Culture

Condemning Violence and Sexual Abuse at the Border

Last week, the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault, the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, and the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape joined dozens of anti-sexual violence organizations to speak out against the mistreatment of refugees and immigrants held in detention at the U.S. southern border. Around this time last year, RALIANCE also called for an end to the Trump administration’s policy of separating children from their parents at the border and we join our colleagues in opposing this destructive immigration policy.

ANTI-SEXUAL VIOLENCE COALITIONS NATIONWIDE CONDEMN THE MISTREATMENT OF REFUGEES AND IMMIGRANTS HELD IN DETENTION. Demand end to ICE raids and POC community monitoring

The text of the full statement is below and the can also be found here.

State and national sexual assault coalitions across the country are united in condemning the separation of children from family members as well as the violence and dehumanizing conditions faced by people being held in detention. The treatment of adults and children while detained in U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) migrant detention centers under the jurisdiction of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is dehumanizing and therefore unacceptable. It must come to an immediate end.

We represent survivors of and advocates against sexual harassment, abuse and assault throughout the country. Many people coming to the U.S. are fleeing from sexual violence in their countries of origin. As advocates, it is incumbent upon us to bear witness and take action against cruelty.

Whereas there are no less than two immigrant detention centers per state, including Puerto Rico, and 184 centers in the state of Texas, we demand accountability from all officials and legislators for the atrocities that continue within these tax-payer funded detention facilities and camps.

Recorded reports of abuse include the following:

  • Overcrowding
  • Lack of access to clean water and food
  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual assault
  • Unsanitary living conditions
  • Medical neglect
  • Verbal/psychological abuse
  • LGBTQ+ discriminatory behavior

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There have also been reports of systemic and widespread sexual harassment, abuse, and assault occurring in ICE detention facilities across the nation and only 2 percent of complaints having been investigated, in clear violation of the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) standards. According to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) documents, thousands of migrant children have experienced sexual abuse while in U.S. government custody under the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) since 2015.

Reporters have not been allowed to speak with detainees or to record the conditions inside the facilities. Doctors are not able to access important medical records of refugees due to the lack of transparency from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. These agencies’ policies are unacceptable and undermine advocates working to end and prevent violence, who understand that a culture of silence creates a dangerous environment for violence to run rampant and unchecked.

It is imperative that all legislators, local and national, address the humanitarian crisis at our southern border immediately. We demand the current administration completely end the practice of separating children from their parents and minimize the placement of children and families in detention settings that expose them to further traumatization and dangerous living conditions. Additionally, legislators must work together to support policies that reduce obstacles to good-faith asylum claims, and avoid creating new ones.

We ask our supporters to contact their legislators regarding this statement and mention the concerns we have listed. We demand an end to secrecy by all immigration agencies and an end to the inhumane conditions that refugees are forced to endure inside detention centers and camps. We want an end to U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) raids that unfairly target communities of color and funnel more people into the inhumane conditions within DHS detention facilities. We urge all legislators to take a bipartisan, humanitarian position by acting to protect immigrants and refugees within our borders. Human rights, and the dignity of every person, are not partisan issues.

Other actions include supporting and reaching out to the sponsors of crucial legislation such as:

  • The Northern Triangle and Border Stabilization Act of 2019 (H.R. 3524), which requires better treatment of detained children at the border, including by setting standards for CBP facilities and directing the hiring of child welfare professionals.
  • The Child Trafficking Victims Protection and Welfare Act (S. 661), which provides for the safe and appropriate treatment of children in CBP custody by requiring at least one licensed child welfare professional at ports of entry and Border Patrol stations that regularly hold a large number of children. The bill also provides minimum standards of care for children in CBP custody.

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Together, we can prevent the continued sexual harassment, abuse, and assault of all persons regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, or documentation status.

SIGNED: 

ALAS: ALIANZA LATINA EN CONTRA LA AGRESIÓN SEXUAL

AMERICAN SAMOA ALLIANCE AGAINST DOMESTIC AND SEXUAL VIOLENCE

ARTE SANA

ARIZONA COALITION TO END SEXUAL & DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

ARKANSAS COALITION AGAINST SEXUAL ASSAULT

CALIFORNIA COALITION AGAINST SEXUAL ASSAULT

CONNECTICUT ALLIANCE TO END SEXUAL VIOLENCE

COLORADO COALITION AGAINST SEXUAL ASSAULT

FLORIDA COUNCIL AGAINST SEXUAL VIOLENCE

IDAHO COALITION AGAINST SEXUAL & DOMESTIC VIOLENCE 

IOWA COALITION AGAINST SEXUAL ASSAULT

JANE DOE INC. (Massachusetts) 

MAINE COALITION AGAINST SEXUAL ASSAULT

MARYLAND COALITION AGAINST SEXUAL ASSAULT

MINNESOTA COALITION AGAINST SEXUAL ASSAULT

MONTANA COALITION AGAINST DOMESTIC AND SEXUAL VIOLENCE

NATIONAL ALLIANCE TO END SEXUAL VIOLENCE

NEW HAMPSHIRE COALITION AGAINST DOMESTIC AND SEXUAL VIOLENCE 

NEW JERSEY COALITION AGAINST SEXUAL ASSAULT

NEW MEXICO COALITION OF SEXUAL ASSAULT PROGRAMS, INC.

NEW YORK STATE COALITION AGAINST SEXUAL ASSAULT

NEVADA COALITION TO END DOMESTIC AND SEXUAL VIOLENCE

OHIO ALLIANCE TO END SEXUAL VIOLENCE

OREGON COALITION AGAINST DOMESTIC AND SEXUAL VIOLENCE

PENNSYLVANIA COALITION AGAINST RAPE

TEXAS ASSOCIATION AGAINST SEXUAL ASSAULT

VERMONT NETWORK AGAINST DOMESTIC AND SEXUAL VIOLENCE

VIRGINIA SEXUAL AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ACTION ALLIANCE

WASHINGTON COALITION OF SEXUAL ASSAULT PROGRAMS

WEST VIRGINIA FOUNDATION FOR RAPE INFORMATION AND SERVICES 

WISCONSIN COALITION AGAINST SEXUAL ASSAULT

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Aziz Ansari wearing a tuxedo at a red carpet event

Aziz Ansari is back – are we ready for redemption?

Ansari’s fall from grace deepened a crucial divide in the #MeToo reckoning, according to Vox’s Caroline Framke, exposing this duality of the “good feminist ally” who wore his Time’s Up pin proudly who also acted this way. Now the guy who wrote the book on Modern Romance is poised for a comeback. His new stand-up comedy special, “Aziz Ansari: Right Now,” premiered today on Netflix, in which he addresses the sexual misconduct.  

It begs the question in the #MeToo era: Are we ready to talk about redemption songs? 

According to the woman whose story sparked Aziz’s #MeToo spotlight, Ansari texted her later stating: “Clearly I misread things in the moment and I’m truly sorry.” (Babe.net January 2018). Also in this text he discusses his intention, not his impact. Far too often a so-called apology focuses on what was meant or wasn’t meant in the moment but does not acknowledge the harm. This is not an apology.

Inherent in this story is our tendency to want to boil down it all down to “he said, she said,” a dynamic that ignores the fact that people who do these things often make strategic choices to ensure there aren’t other witnesses, as well as all the ways cultural, social, and gender cues play into dating, sex, and relationships. Dating norms and assumptions are shaped by our culture – often not in healthy ways. Ansari took some time away from the spotlight to reflect on this incident.

#MeToo kindled a fire that is burning its way through organizations, industries, and our communities. The anger and pain caused by years of being silenced and ignored are still red-hot. We have yet to really focus on prevention – we can intervene earlier and change behaviors. We have to. There are no throw-away people. There’s no voting anyone off the island. What if they, too, want to have a comedy show on Netflix and want to be back in all of our good graces?  

Here’s a possible ruler – Did you:

Own it. You messed up. Don’t avoid or ignore it – take responsibility for your mistake.

Be proactive and seek help. Asking for help is a sign of strength and growth.

Put in place measures so this doesn’t happen again. Get an accountability buddy. Look at policies in your organization.

It doesn’t go away, but you learn to accept it. You caused harm. This does not define your entire character. Use this information to be better and do better.

What #MeToo started is a cultural revolution and building healthier and safer spaces takes time. It would be easy to focus on individual accountability and forget about community and wider societal accountability. We can also ask Netflix and other corporations and businesses what policies and practices are in place to ensure the artists they work with adhere to the standards and values they have as an organization? For more information about what employees, managers, HR professionals and even Boards of Directors can do, check out RALIANCE’s series of open letters.

Photo by David Shankbone. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported

RALIANCE celebrates 3rd anniversary

Since our official launch on June 28, 2016, there has been a monumental shift in our culture’s understanding of how common sexual harassment, misconduct and abuse are in the United States and around the world. We are encouraged by this progress, but know that there is still much work to do to end sexual violence in one generation.

As we celebrate this milestone, we thought we’d reflect on the progress we’ve made and lessons we’ve learned these past three years:   

We know prevention is possible – and it is happening. Just check out the 62 prevention projects representing over $2.77 million we have supported via four rounds of impact grants!

How we talk about sexual violence impacts how people understand the problem and what to do about it. RALIANCE partnered with the Berkeley Media Studies Group to research how we can all do a better job talking about prevention. RALIANCE’s advocacy toolkit is also helping more people speak with their elected officials about the topics important to them when it comes to stopping sexual harassment, misconduct and abuse.

Sport is part of the solution to ending sexual violence. We launched the first of its kind Sport + Prevention Center and engage in on-going conversations with researchers and leaders in atheltics on prevention strategies and solutions.

Safe environments and strong communities start with leaders. We are proud to support the next generation of change-makers as well as honor leaders in policy work, advocacy, industry, and journalism who leading the way for sexual violence prevention.

We’re grateful to our partners and to all of you. Thank you for being a part of our journey and part of the solution to stamp out sexual harassment, misconduct and abuse once and for all.  

Why it’s Important the 2020 Democratic Presidential Debates Talk About #MeToo

The legacy of #MeToo means candidates must address sexual harassment, misconduct, and abuse as part of their platforms – and, importantly, how these topics will be prevented and addressed within their own campaigns. This week’s first Democratic presidential debate is an opportunity to that.

Time’s Up representatives Eva Longoria, Ana Navarro, and Hilary Rosen recently penned an important op ed noting the significant role of the moderators in these debates to shape the questions posed to the candidates. They wrote, “It’s true that women and people of color share plenty of concerns with white men. But asking those general questions isn’t enough: We need to know how the candidates would approach issues that are of special concern to female voters.”

As the presidential debates kick off, we thought we’d share some best practices for how political candidates can talk about sexual violence prevention and champion safe, healthy and harassment-free workplaces and environments while on the campaign trail:   

Be proactive. Promote a culture of respect and inclusion. In many ways, how campaigns structure and treat their staff sends a message about the political candidate’s broader values and priorities. As the leaders of their campaigns, political candidates and their senior staff are responsible for modeling good behavior and setting norms and standards for a work environment that promotes the safety and well-being of all employees.

Maintain a clear and comprehensive anti-harassment policy. Candidates should put into place transparent policies, procedures, and reporting mechanisms that include training and awareness – not just for how victims may report but on addressing the inappropriate behaviors that enabled this to happen in the first place.

Talk about how all of us can do better to help end sexual violence in one generation. Here’s an example of what a candidate could say: “Sexual harassment, misconduct, and abuse have no place in our workplaces, and it’s on all of us to look out for each other. That starts with training and awareness, but it doesn’t stop there. To end sexual violence, we all must work to build a culture based on mutual respect, safety and equality.”

Pledge to put more funding and resources to support survivors and expand access to prevention education. Addressing the serious gaps in such issues as reducing the rape kit backlog, addressing sexual assault on campuses as well as in our military requires a significant economic investment.

For more tips, check out these RALIANCE resources: What Bernie should have said about allegations of sexual harassment on his campaign and Advice to 2020 Political Candidates and Campaigns.

5 Key Tips for Organizations to Improve Their Workplace Culture

Last week, approximately 100 Google employees, community activists and investors joined together to protest at Alphabet’s shareholder meeting and demanded change from the company on how it handles workplace issues, including sexual harassment and misconduct policies. Google is not alone. Companies and institutions across the country are grappling with these issues. With many thanks to the MeToo and Time’s Up movements, we are finally talking about accountability and prevention and starting to see a true public reckoning with attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs that must change.

So what can companies do to improve their sexual harassment policies and workplace culture?

While all employees have a role to play in the workplace culture, leadership comes from the top and chief executives and board of directors are ultimately responsible for establishing and maintaining an organizational culture where respect and civility are promoted and harassment is swiftly and proportionally addressed.

Here are a few key tips to consider –

Follow the best practices to prevent sexual harassment and misconduct in your organization. 

Identify conditions that place employees at risk.

Maintain a clear and comprehensive anti-harassment policy.

Implement training that works.

Promote a culture of respect and inclusion.

Change requires leadership and accountability.

Read our entire HR Open Letter Medium series published in April 2018 for more insights.

Our open letters addressed specific ideas for how to prevent harm to all the stakeholders in an organization: CEOs and boards of directors, CHROs and human resources executives, managers and supervisors; and importantly employees as the first line of defense. In addition to the best practices listed above, everyone in an organization can be an educated and engaged bystander. Companies can use employee surveys, engage their boards effectively, and boost educational efforts internally. Engaging outside help to review policies and coach leadership about impacting behaviors in the workplace is a wise investment in promoting a healthy work environment and limiting the risk of sexual harassment and misconduct going unaddressed.

Statement on Roy Moore’s announcement to run for the US Senate in 2020

“Roy Moore’s announcement is a direct affront to survivors of sexual violence and the people of Alabama. His attempt to re-enter public life without taking ownership of the irreparable harm he has done should be a reminder that, now more than ever, we need to hold accountable those who use their positions of power to exploit and abuse the most vulnerable in our society.

“Not too long ago, a critical mass of voters in Alabama made a powerful statement: sexual violence and abuse won’t be tolerated from public officials. We are in a watershed moment for sexual violence prevention and survivors and women across the country will be counting on the voters of Alabama to make sure we don’t go back.”.

Read the statement.

Football players in a huddle #RollRedRollPBS Monday, June 17 at 10 PM on PBS

Interview Excerpts: Roll Red Roll Documentary Film Director Nancy Schwartzman

Ahead of today’s debut of the Roll Red Roll  documentary on PBS, Director Nancy Schwartzman spoke with Brian Pinero, former RALIANCE National Project Coordinator, about the film’s efforts to document the aftermath of the 2012 high school rape case in Steubenville, Ohio and shed light on the broader culture that normalizes and enables sexual violence. Below are lightly edited excerpts from the interview. The full podcast is available here.

In August, RALIANCE will also host a special screening of the film and panel discussion during the National Sexual Assault Conference. The panel will include Schwartzman and members of the Pennsylvania sports community to discuss the film and the role sport can play in preventing sexual violence.

Director Nancy Schwartzman on the impact of sexual violence in a community:

I’ve done anti-violence work and I know that a rape is not just between two people. It really ripples out and affects so many relationships – relationships with victim or perpetrators’ family, friends, communities, church, school. It’s a network of relationships and there’s a tear when that happens. [Steubenville] was just a microcosm of all these ripple effects.

On why she wanted to make a film about sexual violence that was not about the victim:

If we are going to change the culture, we have to look at the behavior, we have to look at the perpetrators. We have to look at the culture that enables rape because victims are on such a spectrum. It really makes no difference what a victim of violence is doing, or wearing, or drinking or not drinking. So, shifting the focus and making this film really about the boys and really about the town is new.

On what was exciting about the film reviews:

They were making references to the Kavanaugh hearings, making references to Spring Break and fraternities. I’m like, this is a film about high school football context, and I love that you’re pulling it as wide as it is.

On the need to hold others and ourselves accountable:

What’s powerful about the film and where we all need to go is to less of a call-out culture and to more of a call-in…We’ve all known about something and not done anything. We’ve all participated tacitly because this has been our culture. Our schools, our jokes, our pop culture, our television has enabled us to be desensitized…We’re all part of it, and there’s like a real fear and unwillingness to acknowledge that sometimes people you love can do really bad things.

On the important role that coaches play in prevention:

It really needs to be modeled also by coaches. It’s not fair to put all of this pressure on 16-year-olds. The adults from the top need to be modeling this is what is acceptable on my field and off the field.

On what gives her hope:

[W]e decided making sure that this campaign invites men to join us…We’ve had amazing people like Wade Davis, former NFL player, openly gay, incredible. I want to be around passionate men who are working alongside us to prevent gender-based violence, that gives me hope. The women in my film give me hope. A blogger Alex Goddard, Rachel Dissell, Marianne [Hemmeter]…these are women who made this s— happen…It’s about the critical reviews from all of these men who are like we are so done with this culture. None of the reviews are an indictment of football, it’s much larger…The more allies we can bring in the more hopeful I think it is.

RALIANCE supports women’s right to control their bodies, condemns Alabama abortion ban

Earlier this week, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed into law the Alabama Human Life Protection Act, which would essentially ban all abortions – including for victims of sexual assault and incest – and punish doctors who perform abortions with life in prison. 

This law not only attacks women’s fundamental rights, but it also does nothing to ensure the health and safety of victims of sexual violence. Instead of protecting and supporting victims of sexual assault and incest, it turns its back on them. 

RALIANCE joins women and survivors across the country in speaking out against this attack on women and reasserting their legal rights to access reproductive health options without fear of punishment or retaliation. 

While Alabama is the first to outright ban abortion, we can’t forget that Missouri, Ohio, Georgia and a growing number of other states are also introducing and/or passing laws that further restrict women’s access to legal and safe reproductive care.   

Ebony Tucker, advocacy director at RALIANCE and the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, reflected on how misogyny is at the core of this dangerous trend in a joint op-ed for Refinery29 last month with Shaina Goodman, director of policy for reproductive health and rights at the National Partnership for Women & Families. 

Tucker and Goodman said, “Deciding whether and when to have a child and whether or when to consent to sexual activity are both fundamentally about asserting autonomy over our own bodies. And both restrictions on abortion and the dismissal of sexual assault are about people in power — predominantly men — trying to strip away our dignity and roll back our march toward equality.”

It’s time to come together to speak out against the harmful laws that reinforce abortion restrictions and the pervasive culture that disregards women’s right to control their own bodies. Together we can end sexual violence in one generation. 

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