By Libby Leyden-Sussler
The 1960s and 1970s ushered in the first wave of anti-rape campaigns, stemming from a second wave of feminism that moved beyond the realm of suffrage and into more personal areas of politics. Issues like sex, sexuality, family structures, and workplace issues came to the forefront of feminist advocacy. Chief among them were the issues of sexual assault and rape.
Today, sexual violence is reported, discussed, and treated with more severity than ever before. Nations and individuals around the globe have stood up and launched initiatives to deliver the message that “rape” is something that will not be tolerated. But it's still not enough.
Policymakers around the globe are arguing that there needs to be education and understanding on the issue in order to stop sexual assault and rape. Here are the most recent campaigns from around the world that are using social media to support anti-rape education and legislation.
The Scotland Police started the “We Can Stop It” campaign targeted at men in an effective attempt to drive home the point that sex without consent is rape. Unlike many anti-rape awareness movements that focus on educating women—the presumed victims of sexual assault—this campaign recognizes that awareness also means educating men, potential perpetrators. The Scotland Police [@policeScotland], which has nearly 46,000 followers on Twitter, launched the campaign online, using social media to promote it.
Brazilian journalist Nana Querioz [@nanaqueiroz] created a Facebook event and Twitter hashtag #NãoMereçoSerEstuprada which translates to "#IDon’tDeserveToBeRaped" in response to a study that was released by Brazil’s Institute for Applied Economic Research (IPEA). The study stated that 65.1 percent of Brazilians either partially or wholly believe that “if dressed provocatively, women deserve to be attacked and raped.”
The Facebook event asked women to pose topless while covering their breasts with a sign with the aforementioned hashtag. Since the protest, the IPEA has come under intense public scrutiny. So much so that organization reevaluated its study, and admitted an error in the results.
In 1998, 18-year-old Israeli Linor Abargil was crowned Miss World, but her fame was vastly overshadowed by the violent rape she had been subjected to just six weeks prior to the competition. Over 15 years later, the now mother of three has helped lead a crusade against sexual violence that has gone global with an international tour and a new documentary Brave Miss World. The film’s website has become a focal point for victims to speak out. More than 300,000 people have already visited the site with many writing about the abuse they experienced.
South African President Jacob Zuma launched an anti-rape campaign aimed at targeting schoolchildren in an attempt to tackle some of the world's highest levels of sexual violence in a country where many are inured to reports of such crimes. There were 65,000 reported sexual assaults in South Africa in 2012, with young women being victims in the majority of cases.
South Africa's statistics agency has estimated that the country's rape rate is the highest of all Interpol countries. The campaign partnered with the Department of Basic Education (DBE) and LEAD SA utilizing the hashtag #StopRape it also asks for citizens to sign an online pledge.
College students in Nova Scotia have released a series of posters in “More than Yes” campaign. The ads feature often-noncommittal words such as "fine," "okay," and "sure" in small type, with the caption below reading: If it's not loud and clear, it's not consent. It's sexual assault."
"The absence of a 'no' doesn't make it a 'yes,'" campaign coordinator Allison Sparling told The Huffington Post. Posters featuring the ads have been put up on several campuses in Nova Scotia, and their messages will be reinforced on social media during times when encounters are more likely to occur, for example on Friday nights, Sparling said.
In January, U.S. President Barack Obama formed a White House Task Force to Protect Students From Sexual Assault, and it released a report of its findings—along with an anti-rape PSA, featuring Dule Hill, Benicio del Toro, Steve Carell, Vice President Biden, Daniel Craig, and the president himself. The video montage will air in movie theaters in May. According to the "1 is 2 Many," campaign, which is coordinating the PSA release with the White House, young women ages 16 to 24 experience the highest rates of sexual violence at the hands of someone they know. The White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault first alerted schools about their responsibilities to survivors of sexual violence in 2011. Under Title IX, schools had to address sexual violence in order to provide equal access to education.
Libby Leyden-Sussler is an editorial assistant at World Policy Journal. [Photo courtesy of StopRapeNow]