More reports of violence against women were lodged with a local gender equality group last month, after an international campaign against sexual assault went viral.

The Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware) Sexual Assault Care Centre said it logged 58 cases last month – higher than this year’s monthly average of 37.

The higher number of reported cases came amid heightened awareness, spurred by the international #metoo campaign, which urged women to come forward with their stories to show how widespread sexual harassment and assault are.

Now, this movement is receiving a fresh boost, in the form of a local campaign by Aware.

The new Let’s Unite campaign aims to get people, community groups and organisations in Singapore to take a stand against violence against women, and pledge for change, Aware said yesterday.

Efforts include talks on employer responsibility in managing workplace harassment, as well as a dialogue that delves into the reality of violence against women in Singapore and what individuals can and have done to end it.

Aware is also urging supporters to overlay their social media profile pictures with the Let’s Unite frame and post a message of support with the hashtag #16DaysSG.

The campaign will run from tomorrow – the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women – to Dec 10, to coincide with the United Nations’ 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence.

Ms Devika Satheesh, who experienced sexual violence as a child, is one woman who will be coming forward with her story to raise awareness about violence against women as part of Aware’s campaign.

“It is not a myth, it is more common than many realise, and it is time we did something about it,” she said.

ST ILLUSTRATION : CHNG CHOON HIONG

Ms Anisha Joseph, who manages Aware’s Sexual Assault Care Centre, said: “When survivors of violence courageously open up about their experiences, we have a responsibility to listen and create a community of support for them that is free of mistrust, blame and shame.”

CALL TO ACTION

It is not a myth, it is more common than many realise, and it is time we did something about it.

MS DEVIKA SATHEESH, who experienced sexual violence as a child and who will be coming forward with her story to raise awareness about violence against women as part of Aware’s Let’s Unite campaign.

She added that the issue of violence against women has to be tackled at various levels, from individual action and community, to religious and workplace attitudes, as well as at the governmental level.

“The Government should take action too, by beefing up existing laws, practices and policies in view of Singapore’s latest Cedaw review, which calls for the training of relevant professionals – from judiciary and police to doctors – to better understand gender-based violence,” Ms Joseph added.

BEING SUPPORTIVE

When survivors of violence courageously open up about their experiences, we have a responsibility to listen and create a community of support for them that is free of mistrust, blame and shame.

MS ANISHA JOSEPH, who manages Aware’s Sexual Assault Care Centre.

Cedaw refers to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, a United Nations treaty which Singapore has signed.



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