„In order to build healthy relationships, we need education closely connected to the problems in the lives of young people, and the involvement of schools is essential” – this is the conclusion of the Gender Equality Festival, after 3 days dedicated to the prevention of gender-based violence by promoting equality between women and men.
Put on your gender glasses: the Gender Equality Festival begins on October 14th!
The Gender Equality Festival challenges you see the world through the pink and blue glasses. What if both women, and men tried to look at the world from the other gender’s perspective? Through theatre plays, film projections, workshops and competitions, the festival encourages young people to defy preconceptions about what is feminine and what is masculine, and learn to get involved in the prevention of gender discrimination and violence. A.L.E.G. has been organizing this event for over 10 years, allowing teenagers to come up with and implement activities targeting other youngsters. The project taking the form of a festival aims at offering teenagers access to education targeted at preventing couple violence and at promoting healthy relationships in which power is divided between the two.
While 1 in 3 women in Europe experiences physical or sexual violence, the states women pay taxes to continue to ensure little or no access to specialised support services. Only 15 out of 46 European countries provide a specialised helpline and more than 47,000 women’s shelter places are missing in Europe. Support centres for rape and sexual assault are not available. Discrimination hinders most vulnerable women from accessing support! “There is a serious underinvestment in specialised support services in many countries in Europe and as a consequence women have nowhere to turn for adequate help. We call on EU authorities, national governments and other interested parties in society to STEP UP investments to stop violence against women!“(Rosa Logar, WAVE president)
In the timeframe 1 Nov. 2014- 14 Nov. 2015, the Caravan „My Body My Own” reached 902 students from 11 different urban and rural communities at risk of violence from Sibiu, Mureș, Brașov and Vrancea counties, during 17 educational sessions for prevention of sexual violence which included screening of the educational film My Body My Own. In each local community the caravan organized meetings for local professionals in order to raise awareness on ways to pro-actively identify cases of sexual violence, ensure a gender-sensitive approach, prevent secondary victimisation and empshasized the importance of ensuring the access of survivors to specialised support services. The pilot counseling center for survivors of sexual violence was used by 135 beneficiaries, of which over 90% women and girls. Of them, 78 chose the option of online counseling services, 51 requested information over the phone and 6 individual counselling. All the persons who contactacted us received information and counseling in order to recognize if they are in an abusive situation, understand the specific forms, causes and effects of sexual violence, learn about victims’rights and how to access these rights. We were able to help 5 survivors with legal aid (of which 3 with free legal representation in court), and 3 with re-imbursement of the costs of forensic certificates as proofs in court. 6 survivors accessed long term psychological counseling. We also helped 5 women with reimbursement of costs with medical services not covered by medical ensurance.
On the 25th of November, the International Day on Combating Violence Against Women, we invite you to join the candle-light vigil „The Silent Witnesses Speak” organized every year by the Association for Liberty and Equality of Gender – A.L.E.G.. The vigil will take place in Sibiu on the pedestrian area Str. Nicolae Bălcescu (the fountain area) between 4-7 pm.
The Gender Equality Festival is not just one of many festivals: it is unique, educational, non-formal and promotes social change for women, men, children and most of all youth. Come and find out what would take for Sibiu to become a more “gender-friendly” city! Here are five events which highly recommend our Festival.
Sibiu is known as a city of festivals. While most festivals have a cultural or a commercial purpose, Gender Equality Festival has a special character as an educational festival, which promotes social change. The main goal is in developing new attitudes and behaviors, especially among young people. Our activities are based on non-formal education methods and the entry is free. This year’s theme is “Sibiu – one gender-friendly city”
The Gender Equality Festival is an awareness campaign organized annually by A.L.E.G. This year we draw attention to gender violence, caused by our prejudices and stereotypes because we learned to see the world this way. We suggest to look at every situation through this gender glasses (with the two lenses, one pink and one blue which added together can help us see the whole picture in our everyday life) . A woman is more than a skirt as a man is more than his force, and gender equality is a better perspective then feminism.
Feminism is the movement which emancipates men and includes a simple equation that does not seek reversal of the power balance, but an equilibrium between forces. And to reach this balance we need men who can’t find justification for violence produced by other men against women and instead we are looking for men who raise their children with the message that real men do not abuse and never find justifications for abuse. A.L.E.G. calls upon the citizens of Sibiu and its partners to change perceptions within the Gender Equality Festival, showing that Sibiu is a gender friendly city that can break the patterns that can emerge from gender violence by interacting in peer.
Our festival is co-financed by the City Council and the Municipality of Sibiu Sibiu, Global Fund for Women and the European Union through the support of the Association Daphne. We want to thank Ille et Vilaine Sibiu, Habitus Library, Israel Embassy in Romania, Geea Caffe, Erasmus Library, Atrium Cafe, Bistro & Art. Media partner: Days and Nights. Sponsor: Simpa
The project ensures a service that is unique in Romania: free psychological and legal assistance, including court representation for people who went through a form of sexual violence. Most sexual violence victims do not talk to anyone about what happened to them and it is very rarely that they get help because of shame and self-blaming. Those who do decide to file a complaint go through re-traumatizing experiences and need to be supported without being judged.
The non-profit Association for Liberty and Gender Equality – A.L.E.G. has been offering support for victims of gender based violence for 10 years and carrying out information and awareness campaigns on gender equality and violence prevention. We have also been involved in lobby and advocacy activities, in an attempt to improve national legislation. In 2014, we initiated the first NGO network focusing on sexual violence: “Breaking the Silence on Sexual Violence”, taking action in cases when the authorities don’t act appropriately. At European level, A.L.E.G. is a member of the coordinating committee of WAVE and a member of ASTRA (regional network for sexual and reproductive rights and health in Central and Eastern Europe).
As of 2015, A.L.E.G. has been accredited as a social services provider and can provide the following services:
– Counseling and therapy for victims of gender based violence
– Educative and awareness raising activities on gender equality and the prevention of violence against women, especially targeted on youngsters The need/problem that the project approaches
Many Romanian women have, at some point in their life, been through some form of sexual violence, be it obscene language or unwanted touches on the street, at school, at their workplace or, even worse, they have been coerced (sometimes by someone they knew) to have unwanted sexual acts. We avoid talking about all these, thus they are hidden aspects of our lives that keep happening: it happens to us and to our daughters as well. According to a FRA study, 38% of Romanian women have been through sexual or physical violence and 24% of them before they were 15 years old.
These are traumatic events that affect all levels of our lives, which is why it is important to be able to talk to a professional about what happened in order to get over the feelings of guilt, self-blame, anger and anxiety or other problems that may come up, such as sleep and eating disorders. In Romania, there is no helpline specialized on violence against women, nor rape crisis centers, as is the case in other European countries. Beneficiaries and target group
Girls and young women from various social environments, pupils and students, women from rural and urban areas will be the main direct beneficiaries. Boys can also be victims of sexual violence, especially youngsters in vulnerable groups, as other those in placement centers. Our service is also used by people other than the victims, who want to find out how to help a friend or a family member in such a situation. We are contacted by about 75 people each year. Project objectives
The project aims at increasing the access of the community to specialized information and support services aimed at getting over traumas associated to violence. Changes that the project will bring to society
An innovative social system trying to cover the lack of specialized services for victims of sexual violence. Our services are free of charge and include:
– Individual psychological counseling, support groups, legal counseling and court representation,
– paying for legal medical certificates or medical assistance (e.g. tests to find possible infections, emergency treatment etc.)
The setting up of a specialized service was possible within the project “My Body, My Own” – Sexual Violence among Youngsters: awareness raising and counseling center, funded through EEA grants 2009-2014, within the NGO Fund for Romania
Supporting at least 30 people affected by sexual violence to get over the trauma and/or to take legal action
350 people from Sibiu, mainly youngsters, informed on the topic of sexual violence prevention and intervention and support methods when someone is abused.
Although 4 out of 20 women in Romania were subject to a form of sexual violence, the issue is still invisible at policy level when it comes to access to justice and services for survivors, and linked to serious impunity for perpetrators. To break away from this silence awarness is needed at all levels, and work needs to be done from top- down – to design survivor oriented policies, as well as at community level with specialized services and prevention campaigns. With funding support of EEA Grants, under the NGO Fund in Romania, A.L.E.G. initiated two projects on sexual violence: a project developing the first network of NGOs on this topic, (Breaking the Silence on Sexual Violence) and a project developing a pilot center offering support to survivors and educational programs ( prevention) in local communities (My Body My Own). Both projects were developed and implemneted in partnership with Stigamot from Iceland, a feminist organization with over 25 years of experience in helping survivors.
Two important events were organized throughout 20-24th of April 2015 in the framework of these projects. One event took place in Bucharest as a public seminar where Breaking the Silence on Sexual Violence Network launched a Call to Action signed by 15 NGOs and targetting the decision makers at national level. For the first time, members of Parliament and of the Government shared their own stories of abuse. Women’s rights also NGOs received the draft law for the ratification of the Istanbul Convention as a sign of active support and committment on the behalf of decision-makers.
Working on change at community level, a second event took place in Sibiu and gathered over 40 social service providers, police officers, teachers and councillors and offered practical workshops and case study work, in order to promote cross-sector cooperation and professional conduct that avoids re-victimization.
Change needs to start from how prevention work on sexual violence is understood and designed and A.L.E.G and Stigamot propose to shift the focus more to boys and men. The amount of guilt we cast on the survivors is equal to the amount of tollerance we have for the perpetrators and itis this that keeps us from moving forward towards elimination of violence against women.