June 2, 2009

Silence is the Enemy

Ah yes, people like PZ Myers & Phil Plait remind me that not all male scientists are utterly boneheaded priviledged, uh, boneheads. Why? They both tend to actually take efforts to recognize women in science in a non-demeaning way, and this is how I found out about an interesting project started by Sheril Kirshenbaum. It's called Silence is the Enemy. She blogs about her past sexual assault then tells us what she wants to do about & for it:

Today begins a very important initiative called Silence Is The Enemy to help a generation of young women half a world away.Why? Because they are our sisters and children–the victims of sexual abuse who don’t have the means to ask for help. We have power in our words and influence. Along with our audience, we’re able to speak for them. I’m asking all of you–bloggers, writers, teachers, and concerned citizens–to use whatever platform you have to call for an end to the rape and abuse of women and girls in Liberia and around the world.

In regions where fighting has formally ended, rape continues to be used as a weapon. As Nicholas Kristof recently wrote from West Africa, ‘it has been easier to get men to relinquish their guns than their sense of sexual entitlement.’ The war has shattered norms, training some men to think that ‘when they want sex, they need simply to overpower a girl.’ An International Rescue Committee survey suggests 12 percent of girls aged 17 and under acknowledged having been sexually abused in some way over the previous 18 months. Further, of the 275 new sexual violence cases treated Jan-April by Doctors Without Borders, 28 percent involve children aged 4 or younger, and 33 percent involve children aged 5 through 12. That’s 61% age 12 or under. We read about their plight and see the figures, but it’s so easy to feel helpless to act in isolation. But these are not statistics, they are girls. Together we can do more. Mass rape persists because of inertia so let’s create momentum.

I can't stress how much I advocate speaking up & against rape and sexual assault regardless of where it happens, and I say that as someone who has yet to do so in my own life *sigh* I just want others to feel they can have the courage and strength I cannot.

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