Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Juvenile Facilities

For those that are interested, here's a link to an article describing the current situation in juvenile facilities, where more than 10 percent of juveniles report some form of sexual abuse. Here's a group of people we don't normally think about protecting. But this is out of control. They have rights too, though. NOBODY deserves to not have control.

-Stephanie K

Fighting what are called "Crimes of Passion" in Haiti


By Jessica Ravitz, CNN
January 25, 2010 1:40 p.m. EST
Myriam Merlet was until recently the chief of staff of Haiti's Ministry for Gender and the Rights of Women.
  • Three leaders in the Haitian women's movement are confirmed dead, victims of quake
  • They gave women voices, fought against violence and made rape in Haiti a crime
  • Friends, including Eve Ensler of "The Vagina Monologues," share memories
  • Amid chaos after earthquake, concerns rise about protecting women and girls

"One returned to her Haitian roots, to give voice to women, honor their stories and shape their futures.

Another urged women to pack a courtroom in Haiti, where she succeeded in getting a guilty verdict against a man who battered his wife.

A third joined the others and helped change the law to make rape, long a political weapon in Haiti, a punishable crime.

Myriam Merlet, Magalie Marcelin and Anne Marie Coriolan, founders of three of the country's most important advocacy organizations working on behalf of women and girls, are confirmed dead -- victims of last week's 7.0 earthquake.

And their deaths have left members of the women's movement, Haitian and otherwise, reeling.

"Words are missing for me. I lost a large chunk of my personal, political and social life," Carolle Charles wrote in an e-mail to colleagues. The Haitian-born sociology professor at Baruch College in New York is chair of Dwa Fanm (meaning "Women's Rights" in Creole), a Brooklyn-based advocacy group. These women "were my friends, my colleagues and my associates. I cannot envision going to Haiti without seeing them."

Myriam Merlet was until recently the chief of staff of Haiti's Ministry for Gender and the Rights of Women, established in 1995, and still served as a top adviser. She died after being trapped beneath her collapsed home, Charles said. She was 53.

Merlet, an author as well as an activist, fled Haiti in the 1970s. She studied in Canada, steeping herself in economics, women's issues, feminist theory and political sociology.

In the mid-1980s, she returned to her homeland. In "Walking on Fire: Haitian Women's Stories of Survival and Resistance," published in 2001, she contributed an essay, "The More People Dream," in which she described what brought her back.

"While I was abroad I felt the need to find out who I was and where my soul was. I chose to be a Haitian woman," she wrote. "We're a country in which three-fourths of the people can't read and don't eat properly. I'm an integral part of the situation. I am not in Canada in a black ghetto, or an extraterrestrial from outer space. I am a Haitian woman. I don't mean to say that I am responsible for the problems. But still, as a Haitian woman, I must make an effort so that all together we can extricate ourselves from them."

I felt the need to find out who I was and where my soul was. I chose to be a Haitian woman.
--Myriam Merlet, in her essay "The More People Dream"

She was a founder of Enfofamn, an organization that raises awareness about women through media, collects stories and works to honor their names. Among her efforts, she set out to get streets named after Haitian women who came before her, Charles said.

Dubbed a "Vagina Warrior," she was remembered Tuesday by her friend Eve Ensler, the award-winning playwright and force behind V-day, a global movement to end violence against women and girls.

"She was very bold," said Ensler, who at Merlet's insistence brought her play "The Vagina Monologues" to Haiti and helped establish safe houses for women in Port-au-Prince and Cap Haitien. "She had an incredible vision of what was possible for Haitian women, and she lifted their spirits. ... And we had such a wonderful time. I remember her dancing in the streets of New Orleans and just being so alive."

Magalie Marcelin, a lawyer and actress who appeared in films and on stage, established Kay Fanm, a women's rights organization that deals with domestic violence, offers services and shelter to women and makes microcredits, or loans, available to women working in markets, said Charles, the chair of Dwa Fanm.

Charles remembered a visit to Haiti about two years ago when Marcelin, believed to be in her mid-50s, called seeking help. Hoping to deflect the political clout of a defendant in court, she asked for women to come out in droves and pack the courtroom. Charles watched as the man on trial was convicted for battering his wife.

Her death has been reported through various media outlets, and was confirmed to CNN by Carribbean Radio Television based in Port-au-Prince. Her own daughter helped dig her body out from rubble in the aftermath of the quake, Charles said she learned when she got the call from Marcelin's cousin.

In an interview last year with the Haitian Times, Marcelin spoke of the image of a drum that adorned public awareness stickers.

"It's very symbolic in the Haitian cultural imagination," Marcelin said, according to the Haitian Times report. "The sound of the drum is the sound of freedom, it's the sound of slaves breaking with slavery."

With Merlet, Anne Marie Coriolan, 53, served as a top adviser to the women's rights ministry.

Coriolan, who died when her boyfriend's home collapsed, was the founder of Solidarite Fanm Ayisyen (Solidarity with Haitian Women, or SOFA), which Charles described as an advocacy and services organization.

Her daughter, Wani Thelusmon Coriolan, said in Haiti children bear only their father's surname, but her mother insisted on keeping her maiden name and making sure her two children shared it, too.

"She said my dad was not the only one who created me. She was involved, too," her 24-year-old daughter, who lives and is studying in Montreal, Quebec, said with a laugh.

Even though Wani and her brother no longer live in Haiti (he is in Paris, France), she said her mother was determined to make sure they were proud of their homeland.

"She loved her country. She never stopped believing in Haiti. She said that when you have a dream you have to fight for it," Wani said. "She wanted women to have equal rights. She wanted women to hold their heads high."

Coriolan was a political organizer who helped bring rape -- "an instrument of terror and war," Charles said -- to the forefront of Haitian courts.

Before 2005, rapes in Haiti were treated as nothing more than "crimes of passion," Charles explained. That changed because of the collective efforts of these women activists -- and others they inspired.

She had an incredible vision of what was possible for Haitian women, and she lifted their spirits.
--Eve Ensler, on her friend Myriam Merlet

With the three leaders gone, there is concern about the future of Haiti's women and girls. Even with all that's been achieved, the struggle for equality and against violence remains enormous.

The chaos that's taken over the devastated nation heightens those worries, said Taina Bien-Aimé, the executive director of Equality Now, a human rights organization dedicated to women.

Before the disaster struck last week, a survey of Haitian women and girls showed an estimated 72 percent had been raped, according to study done by Kay Fanm. And at least 40 percent of the women surveyed were victims of domestic violence, Bien-Aimé said.

And humanitarian emergencies have been linked to increased violence and exploitation in the past, she said.

"From where we stand," Bien-Aimé wrote in an e-mail, "the most critical and urgent issue is what, if any, contingencies the relief/humanitarian agencies are putting in place not only to ensure that women have easy access to food, water and medical care, but to guarantee their protection."

Concerned women in the New York area plan to gather Wednesday to strategize their next steps, Ensler said.

And while they will certainly keep mourning, she and the others are hopeful that Haitian women, inspired by these fallen heros and leaders, will forge ahead -- keeping their fight and legacies alive."

-Stephanie K

Not So Funny...

Alright, well I just posted a long rant about this video that got deleted. Sadly. Anyways the sparknotes version is that I found this video on youtube called the "five funniest potential sexual assault convicts". Funny...somehow I don't find anything funny about it...

I know that the girl is jokingly acting disapproving and offended, but clearly there's supposed to be some humor in the sexual innuendos and references to sexual assault. It's just sad that society is still allowing people to minimize the pain of people that are affected in one way or another, whether directly or indirectly, by sexual assault. This stuff is still going on and...It's. Just. Pathetic.

-Stephanie K

Monday, January 25, 2010

Volunteer Continuing Education

This past weekend, SAPAC volunteers took part in their semester Continuing Education. This gives opportunities to returning volunteers to learn about topics related to SA/DV, stalking, and sexual harassment that are not normally taught during training. This semester, volunteers heard presentations about Batterer Intervention Programs and Mail Order Brides.

During the Batterer Intervention Program presentation, the presenter claimed that "a relationship can never be equal" and that "once a man hits his wife, every time they engage in sexual intimacy he is actually sexually assaulting her."

What do you think of his claims? What do you think of batterer intervention programs?

Voice your thoughts below!

Stalking Awareness Month T-shirts

In order to raise awareness about Stalking Awareness Month, SAPAC volunteers are sporting some new t-shirts. Check them out!

Know it. Name it. Stop it.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

NPA Continuing Ed: Stalking

I recently came across this clip from SNL called "Peeper's Insurance" that really upset me. The link to the video is below, as well as some of the highlights:

"We know that you're okay, because we're watching you."
"You pay nothing, but we're still there, ... when you're getting out of the shower."
"Thomas Peeper's Insurance. We're keeping an eye on you."

This reference to "peeping toms" in a comedic arena is in extremely poor taste and is downright offense. SNL makes light of a serious issue, a crime that is very real. Stalking terrifies up to 3.4 million people each year in the US. It is not something people should be laughing about.

This video is creepy as well as being offensive. The spokesman for "Peeper's Insurance" is watching a family, through the windows at night. He watches a girl and boy kiss on the couch. He watches a woman get out of the shower. He watches a woman unplug a drain, which is a thinly veiled reference to a hand job. The man is clearly deriving some sort of sick pleasure from watching these people. I'm not laughing at this.

It is really not okay for a tv show to belittle such a grave issue into nothing more than a joke. This sends the wrong messages about stalking, making it seem amusing and not at all serious. It is insulting to people who have been stalked, and is very triggering. What's worse is that this video was aired during the first ever Stalking Awareness Month. This is a time that is meant to promote knowledge and due regard of this crime. Instead, it is being minimized and trivialized by a major tv show.

In short, SNL, this is not okay.

For more information on stalking and Stalking Awareness Month, check out

-Emily Rion

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Bystanders Don't Try to Stop Rape-Toledo, OH

Check out this link to an article from the Toledo Blade.

Friday, January 15, 2010


The Networking, Publicity, & Activism coordinators are hosting a t-shirt making event this Monday, January 18, from 2-4 pm in the SAPAC Office (715 N. University, Ann Arbor). The t-shirts will become part of SAPAC's Clothesline Project, an installation that is put up at various locations around the U of M campus. SAPAC crisis intervention specialists will be on call.

This event is open to all survivors and allies of survivors of domestic and dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, and sexual harassment.

Please come out to make a shirt and be part of our installation!