Today, on Human Rights Days and the end of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, AF3IRM announces a partnership with the National Association of Asian and Pacific Islanders Ending Sexual Violence (NAPIESV) and Balik sa Dagat Bangka Journey to prevent and to provide relief from sexual violence against women in disaster areas. The organizations’ proposed program is multi-layered—it includes active partnership with groups in the Philippines and the creation of mobile sexual violence relief centers.
Jollene Levid, National Chairperson of AF3IRM, asserted, “Like many life experiences, the experience of catastrophe is gendered. It has long-term repercussions specific to women and girls, who already face disadvantaged social positions and circumstances.”
Readiness to deal with immediate sexual violence under catastrophic conditions, said Ms. Levid, is only one aspect of the work. “We need to learn the particular vulnerabilities of women in the post-disaster world.” She added that this should be part of disaster-readiness for any country, especially in this era of a rapidly changing climate system.
The program is intended to build the capacity of local residents to contend with sexual violence and trafficking, in these times of crisis. “We begin with the principle that locals can protect themselves, given the knowledge and skills,” said Ms. Levid. “The program does not start from either a premise of charity or solidarity, but from a premise of learning and working together, over a sufficient length of time.”
The three organizations will work with partner organizations in the Philippines and employ the skills and knowledge of women who have gone through and provided assistance in such areas as Indonesia and Haiti during times of disaster. Ms. Levid stressed, “They come with their experience and with a willingness to learn concrete conditions unique to the Philippines.” Also joining the program are survivors of trafficking, who will provide training on how to strengthen women’s and girls’ resistance to trafficking.
The objective is to create human resources capable of immediate mobilization when catastrophe strikes. “This is in accord with AF3IRM’s principle of empowerment and self-reliance for women and girls. And hopefully, relieve pressure on overseas Filipino workers who are constantly tapped for charity and relief work, pushing them further into debt bondage.”
NAPIESV is a national organization established by Asian and Pacific Islander anti-sexual assault advocates developing a cross-movement analysis, as well as working to build relationships and partnerships to address sexual violence in API communities.
Balik sa Dagat Bangka Journey is a community-building project with a vision of empowerment through cross-cultural collaboration by helping build a Pilipino bangka (outrigger canoe), creating watercraft experiences for urban families, and revitalizing ancient seafaring traditions on the West Coast.