Upstream vs. Downstream

By Martha McCaughey *

It’s amazing what we learn when we read outside our field.  A 2015 article by William Scott (here), reveals that those engaged with sustainable development efforts face many of the challenges those of us doing sexual assault prevention face.

Specifically, Scott and his colleagues feel that they’ve done too much “downstream remedial” work (measures that deal with the consequences of harm) and not enough “upstream prevention” work (interventions to address the underlying causes of problems).  Sound familiar?

Scott describes an N.E.F. report, which “argues for prevention, and says that bottom-up prevention is best, with people and organisations becoming more resilient: building up their own immune systems, both literally and metaphorically, so that they become less susceptible to harm, changing attitudes and capabilities so that they are better able to take positive actions themselves.” Continue reading “Upstream vs. Downstream”

This Is What Women Are Forced To Do To Avoid Street Harassment

By: Tara Culp-Ressler

Cross-posted with permission from ThinkProgress here.

The street harassment that plagues U.S. women in public spaces has far-reaching consequences for those women’s personal lives, according to new survey data released by the international nonprofit Hollaback!.

The survey, which polled more than 4,800 people living in the United States, found that the threat of street harassment results in a heightened level of fear and anxiety that can end up distracting women when they’re at work or school. It also leads many people to change their behavior in ways they otherwise wouldn’t have. Continue reading “This Is What Women Are Forced To Do To Avoid Street Harassment”

A call to knowledge: Let’s gather more data before rushing to action

By Poulami Roychowdhury

In a context like India, where law enforcement personnel are both perpetrators of sexual violence and have limited capacities to enforce legal rights, what should we actually do to counter rape? At the risk of resolving the practical dilemma with a call for academic inquiry, that is exactly what I am about to propose. Before devising more policies and interventions, we need more data and we need better data. The need for data gathering becomes self evident when we examine existing organizational efforts.

Transforming “rape culture” has become an increasingly popular strategy in the aftermath of the Delhi gang rape of 2012. This approach is visible in media commentary about India’s “traditional” culture, satirical videos such as Rape: It’s Your Fault, and awareness building campaigns, such as Breakthrough’s efforts to “make violence against women unacceptable.” I have discussed elsewhere why the cultural turn in organizational efforts is dangerous in post-colonial, developing countries (Roychowdhury 2013). To summarize one of the main issues, cultural interventions are based on a number of assumptions that are tenuously linked to empirical data. These assumptions include the idea that sexual violence occurs because it is culturally “acceptable” and that certain cultures are more violent than others. The limited survey data we have available indicates, however, that on average, Indian women are less vulnerable to sexual violence than women in other countries. According to the Demographic Household Survey, 9% of Indian women have experienced violence versus 18.3% of American women (NFHS 2006). But to what extent these numbers emerge from “cultural” differences largely resides on guesswork. Continue reading “A call to knowledge: Let’s gather more data before rushing to action”