by Denai Brown.
Every year from November 25 to December 10, activists around the world work to raise awareness about gender violence. Defined as violence that results in physical, sexual or psychological harm, gender violence affects millions of women worldwide.
Domestic violence—which occurs in a relationship—is most common. According to statistics, one in four women has experienced domestic violence in her lifetime. Between 600,000 and six million women are victims of domestic violence each year depending on the type of survey used to obtain the data.
City College is doing its part with a series of events organized by the 16 Days of Activism Committee at CCNY. At the kickoff event on November 28 in the Hoffman Lounge, USG president Mishka Montrope spoke about the problem of domestic violence in both men and women.
“Alot of people feel that women are the only victims of domestic violence, but there also are men who are victims of domestic violence,” said Montrope, who used to work at a nonprofit organization that worked on this issue. Statistics show that while 85 percent of survivors of domestic violence are women, 100,000 to six million men may be affected, depending on how it’s measured.
“It’s a very small percentage but I just want to let people know that this is a very real issue that our people in our age group are facing,” Montrope adds. “It all starts mentally. They get you mentally then it progresses physically. One hit is not just oh it was a mistake. You really have to look for the warning signs that are there.”
The event also featured a speak-out open mic session and men and women of all age groups and backgrounds came to express their feelings against gender violence. Students sang songs, recited poems and rapped.
One participant, Jynn, recited a poem. “It’s because I love you, that’s why I have to put my hands on you,” he stated in the poem. He wrote it because his best friend was in an abusive relationship for four years and just got out. Now that friend’s ex is locked up for attempted murder.
Another speaker named Ashley Staughn, a CCNY alum recited a “women’s empowerment poem.”
Organizers also hope the week of events will help make a women’s center a reality on CCNY’s campus. “There isn’t a dedicated center,” says Asantewaa G. Harris, one of three chairs of the 16 Days of Activism Committee. “It’s a wish, an idea.”
The idea originally started with the Dominique Strauss-Kahn scandal earlier this year. The anger the former French head of the International Monetary Fund triggered after allegedly sexually assaulting a hotel chambermaid in New York–and then blaming her–sparked organizers into action.
“A women’s center on campus is going to be a proposed safe space for women of all backgrounds, color and dominations,” says student Stephanie Homme, who’s advocating for the center. “They will come to the center with problems or issues they are facing and be able to express their concerns. They will learn about health issues and solutions.”
Space has proven to be a stumbling block. “There’s no space on campus,” says Homme. “There’s no space anywhere. Money will come from donations and people raising funds but again where is the women center going to go if there is not any space.”
To get involved—and join the push for a women’s center at CCNY—attend any or all of the upcoming events:
- Monday December 5, 2011- A free self defense course in the Hoffman Atrium from 6:30-9 pm
- Tuesday December 6, 2011- Medical issues related to gender violence in the Hoffman Atrium 6:30-9 pm
- Wednesday November 7, 2011 – Men’s roundtable, in the Morales/Shakur center located in NAC 3/201 from 6-8 pm
- Friday December 9, 2011 – Closing banquet in NAC 1/211 from 12:30-2pm