How Menstrual Cups Can Improve Educational Outcomes For Girls In Africa

Menstruation is an often overlooked factor in understanding poor educational outcomes for girls in parts of Africa and other developing areas.  Without access to sanitary products, many girls (and women) are often forced to use items like unsanitary rags, leaves or old newspapers to cope with their periods.  Due to the lack of sufficient sanitation facilities at schools as well as an inability to purchase proper sanitary products, many girls can miss up to 6 weeks of school per year.

Project Dignity is one of several organizations devoted to providing access to sanitary products.  For each box of menstrual cups purchased at participating locations, they promise to provide a free 3 month supply of menstrual cups to a girl in one of these developing areas.  By providing access to sanitary products, projects like this can help increase educational outcomes for girls as well as addressing a public health issue.

RH Reality Check – Menstruation can be a curse

WomenCare Global – Project Dignity


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Anti-Transgender Violence Grows Despite “Star Power” Op-Ed

By now we are all well aware of the transformation of Bruce Jenner into Caitlyn Jenner. If you’re like me your Facebook timeline, Instagram page, and Twitter feed has been inundated with her Vanity Fair layout as well as various captions (both negative and positive) directed towards not only her process of transformation but also the trans-gender community as a whole. We’ve also seen in the news the recent confirmation of Pennsylvania’s news physician general, Dr. Rachel Levine, the highest ranking openly transgender person in that states history. 2015 was a great year for the transgender community, with many mentions and accomplishments by various people.

That is not to say that this is the norm. That is what this article discusses. Just because celebrities and those of high positions are having great success, let us not forget the 9 transgender people who have been murder so far this year alone. Most recently was 17 year old Mercedes Williamson who was found murdered an hour and a half away from her home in Mississippi. In reality, in a report released by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs , “ hate motivated violence against trans-gender individuals rose by 13 percent in 2014” but dropped 32 percent against gays, lesbians, and bisexuals. 20 LGBT individuals total killed in 2014 simply because of hate. Another issue is that of the 13 transgender people killed in 2014 all but one of them was a person of color.

With all the attention that has been giving to recent celebrities including Orange Is The New Black star Laverne Cox, and the seemingly(mostly) receptive audience that this attention has garnered in Hollywood and social media, why are we still seeing an increase in violence against trans-gender and what can be done to prevent it? One thing that has to change is legislation that supports those who commit these heinous crimes rather than efficiently punishing them. In Mississippi for example, hate crime laws do not cover gender identity. This leave members of the transgender community exposed and at risk. Tackling discrimination against trans-people would aid them to do simple things like open a banking account or get a proper ID so that they can get jobs.

With any hope, breakout stars like Caitlyn Jenner and Lavern Cox will bring attention to Trans-issues and help to spearhead serious change in legislation as well as public perception of transgender people as normal people who just want to live their lives in peace and harmony just like everyone else!

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Acquaintance Rape


Acquaintance rape or date rape (as it is also related to) is a sexual assault or rape by someone who the victim knows. Acquaintances can include persons related to the victim, a workmate, classmate, religious leader-virtually anyone who is already known by the victim. Acquaintance rape is used interchangeably with date rape because it can also include someone the victim is romantically or sexually involved with. Acquaintance rape crosses all racial, age, economic, and social lines.
When pinpointing a date of origin for the term Acquaintance rape one has to begin with the studies involving acquaintance rape which began back in the 1950s. This study, which examined police files from 1958 and 1960, showed that half of all those accused of rape were men who knew the women. Diana Russell, an author, first used the term in print in 1978. Then, in 1988, Robin Warsaw published the first book on acquaintance rape called, I Never Called It Rape.
Acquaintance rape is prevalent in many societies including the United States but it is different in different cultures. In Ethiopia, for example, nearly “all sexual violence is perpetrated by the husband or boyfriend of the victim”, according to a 2005 study done by the World Health Organization. In Johannesburg, South Africa, a 1992 study revealed that nearly 80% of rapes by adult women were by strangers. In India, Acquaintance rape is called custodial rape, meaning the man has a higher status than the woman he raped. In the US acquaintance rape usually takes the form of date rape or even gang rape. So, acquaintance rape takes different forms in different cultures.
Just like with the prevalence of acquaintance rape, the reasons WHY perpetrators commit this act is just as varied. Researchers, however, say that there are common characteristics that acquaintance rapists share. These include being able to enjoy sex while the victim is intoxicated, crying, pleading, or even unconscious! Another study found that some common family backgrounds of perpetrators include having fathers who were emotionally and physically distant, extreme hostility towards women and a strong desire to control women, and also have “hyper masculine attitudes”. Still researchers say the primary motivation is sexual gratification and seduction.
The peak age for being a victim of acquaintance rape is late teens to early twenties. The effects of acquaintance rape of date rape in most cases are lifelong. Emotional, psychological effects can impair future romantic and non-romantic relationships. Self-loathing, low self-esteem, depression, unwanted pregnancy, and even suicide are the result of acquaintance rape. However the majority of victims of acquaintance rape do not sustain injuries at all, other than penetration.

One reason for the severe psychological effects of acquaintance rape is due to lack of response from the proper authorities after victims report such violence. Some victims even refuse to come forward due to pre-perceived views as to how they will be viewed by others and even because they feel they will not be believed but called liars. Some researchers have found that jurors are less likely to convict in acquaintance rape/date rape cases than they would if it were a “stranger rape” case. In other cases, even with the overwhelming amount of physical evidence, jurors have been influenced by whether or not the woman used birth control, had pre-marital sex, was scantily dressed or even whether she had engaged in drug and/or alcohol use. In these cases greater responsibility has been placed on the woman for her actions and less on the man and therefore he receives little if any punishment.
There is however hope for victims of acquaintance rape/date rape. As better awareness is brought to this issue more can be done for victims in terms of counseling and treatment both short term and long term. Title IX legislation makes it clear: “The sexual harassment of students, including sexual violence, interferes with students’ right to receive an education free from discrimination and, in the case of sexual violence, is a crime.” This will hopefully have a huge impact on college campuses across the nation in bringing not only sexual violence awareness but also spearheading prevention.
There is an anti-rape movement gaining momentum, especially with recent sexual assault cases around the nation. This movement originally came out in the 1960s/1970s along with the second wave feminism. It has grown over the years and not its goals include fighting sexual violence against women, changing attitudes of victim blaming, and also discouraging women from blaming themselves. Its focus is outreach and support and working towards building a society in which rape (of any kind) doesn’t exist.
Parrot, Andrea (1998). Coping With Date Rape and Acquaintance Rape. Rosen Publishing Group. p. 30. ISBN 0823928616.
Chancellor, Arthur S. (2012). Investigating Sexual Assault Cases (Jones & Bartlett Learning Guides to Law Enforcement Investigation). Jones & Bartlett Learning. p. 167. ISBN 144964869X.
Warshaw, Robin (1994). I Never Called It Rape (Harper Perennial ed.). New York: HarperPerennial. p. 11. ISBN 978-0-06-092572-7.
Reeves Sanday, Peggy (1997). A Woman Scorned: Acquaintance Rape on Trial. University of California Press. pp. 186–194. ISBN 0520210921
“WHO Multi-country Study on Women’s Health and Domestic Violence against Women: Initial results on prevalence, health outcomes and women’s responses” (PDF). World Health Organization. 2005. Retrieved 13 June 2014.
Kumbhare, Arun R. (2009). Women of India: Their Status Since the Vedic Times. iUniverse. p. 136. ISBN 144015600X.
Violence Against Women in South Africa: State Responses to Domestic Violence and Rape. Human Rights Watch. 1995. p. 53. ISBN 1564321622.
Chancellor, Arthur S. (2012). Investigating Sexual Assault Cases (Jones & Bartlett Learning Guides to Law Enforcement Investigation). Jones & Bartlett Learning. p. 167. ISBN 144964869X. Flowers, R. Barri (2000). Domestic Crimes, Family Violence and Child Abuse: A Study of Contemporary American Society. McFarland & Company. p. 85. ISBN 0786408235.
Eriksson, Maria (2011). Defining Rape: Emerging Obligations for States under International Law? (The Raoul Wallenberg Institute Human Rights Library). Martinus Nijhoff. pp. 157–158, 166. ISBN 9004202633.
Ward, Colleen (1995). Attitudes toward Rape: Feminist and Social Psychological Perspectives (Gender and Psychology series). SAGE Publications. ISBN 0803985940

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Rape Culture Wikipedia Entry

Rape culture

Rape culture is used to describe a society that tolerates sexual assault and violence against women. Rape culture is a relatively new term that expresses how our culture perpetuates rape in different parts of our lives. According to Susan J. Douglas (2015), rape culture is more than just our values. It is the way we live our everyday lives and the beliefs that run our media, institutions, religion, work, and entertainment.

There are many ways that rape culture shows in the United States. We can see that higher education is being affected by our rape culture because one in five women are sexual assault victims. Douglas (2015), also said that twenty-six thousand soldiers in the military were sexually assaulted in 2012. TV and video games perpetuate crude behavior that could lead to sexual harassment or assault. All of these examples show that our culture has a tolerance for sexual harassment and rape.

Media is one of the best ways to show our society has a rape culture. Women and even men are seen as objects for sex instead of human beings. According to Pearson (2000), movies and TV shows show that rape scenes are about lust and are seen as sexy rather than violent and about power. If our society cannot overcome the media’s portrayal of rape, sex, women, and men, then rape culture will continue.



According to Skinner (2012), evidence that supports that the United States has a rape culture is the amount of rapes reported versus the amount of arrests and convictions. Forty-four percent of victims are under age eighteen (RAINN). Sixty-eight percent of rapes go unreported and ninety-eight percent of perpetrators go free (RAINN). Most sexual assaults happen on college campuses.



Rape has been seen all throughout history as a violent act of victory in wars. Cyril J. Smith (1974), The Legend of Troy, the fall of Constantinople, and the rape of Nanking are only a few examples of history throughout the world that shows rape has been around for a long time.

The first written laws to prevent rape were written in the Code of Hammurapi which was written in the 17th century. Smith (1974), states that this law prevented men from raping virgin women who were intended to be married and the consequence of breaking this law was death.

The earliest English common law was enforced by Aethelbert of Kent, who was the first king of England in 597.  According to Smith (1974), the consequence for rape during these times was giving the woman at least 60 shillings.

Eventually English common law gave a definition of rape that had not previously been considered. Smith (1974), states that the three key factors were using force, lack of consent, and penetration. If penetration did not occur, then it was not considered rape. These laws made penetration while a woman was unconscious rape as well. These laws also considered a man drugging a woman without her knowledge and then having intercourse is rape.



Anti-rape campaigns have been targeted towards women and how to prevent themselves from being assaulted rather than putting the blame on the perpetrators. This leads to victim blaming and questions about what the person was wearing or how much they had to drink. Skinner (2012) states that in the last ten years the new anti-rape campaigns have been targeted towards men and the role they play in rape culture. MyStrength and Don’t Be That Guy are two of the campaigns that are targeting men to help end rape culture. These campaigns are a step in the right direction, but they lack a feminist approach to promote affirmative consent and to demote violence. The Don’t Be That Guy campaign raises awareness by creating posters that say something like, “Just because you take her home, doesn’t mean you can help yourself.” This campaign focuses on masculine stereotypes that promote men as being “manly” if they protect women. Both campaigns focus on heterosexual couples as the focus of their posters. Both of these campaigns have tried to raise awareness and target men into helping end rape culture, but they still promote heteronormativity. According to Skinner (2012), these campaigns promote male power and privilege over women, so there is still more that needs to be done.

According to Skinner (2012), “Yes Means Yes” and “Communication Is Sexy, So When I Wasn’t Sure, I Asked For Consent” needs to replace “No means No”. Each partner has to give consent throughout the entire time intercourse is going on through words and gestures. Each of these statements allow for all genders and sexual orientations to be considered and not left out in the campaigns.


Skinner, L. (2012, Summer). RAPE CULTURE AND MASCULINITIY. Fuse Magazine, 35, 6-7. Retrieved from

Douglas, S. J. (2014, 07). Rape culture reality check. In these Times, 38, 15. Retrieved from

Smith, Cyril J. (1974). History of Rape and Rape Laws. 60 Women Law Journal. 188. Retrieved from

Pearson, A. (2000, Aug). Rape culture: Media and message. Off our Backs, 30, 13. Retrieved from

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Op-Ed: Substance Abuse and Violence Against Women

Substance abuse is a worldwide problem that many people are struggling with every single day. Not only does this affect their daily lives, but it also affects who they are as a person. Although there may be people who take drugs just for the “fun” of it, many people take them because it provides them with a sense of escape. It is now beginning to be discussed more in literature that women who are victims of domestic violence in their home tend to lean towards drugs when they feel like they can’t do anything to stop the violence. Women like Barbara, “who turned to drugs and alcohol to escape the reality of the violent world she lived” (Rogers et al p.592). Barbara mentions that using the drugs helped the abuse not seem as bad and at times she would  completely forget about it. Sadly like Barbara, there are many other women battling with this same problem.

As mentioned, there are many other women battling with this same problem and a common place these women go to are shelters for battered women. One may think that these shelters are of huge help and that after visiting one of these shelters women will no longer suffer at home, but that is completely the opposite; for most of the shelters anyway. Whenever Barbara decided to finally go to a shelter for battered women the first thing she noticed was that many women (at the shelter) would hide and drink alcohol there as well as leaving to drink alcohol. Now how in the world is that supposed to help them end their substance abuse problem if they just continue on with it? After noticing that the shelter for battered women wasn’t going to do much in helping her end her drug abuse, she later left to a chemical treatment program for 30 days.

Although Barbara knew that the women drinking at the shelter were just trying to hide their pain like her; she wanted something better. At the chemical treatment program she found the resources and support to start a new life (Rogers et al p. 592). After her stay at the chemical treatment program, Barbara returned to African American Family Services were she was hired as an intervention specialist.  A brilliant woman, Barbara knew that it takes some time for a woman to come forth about any intimate accounts about their personal life so she found a better way that would help women open up to her. She began to talk about her story, her problems, and what helped her get through that awful part of her life. This helped women relate to Barbara, making it easier for them to open up to her because they knew that she too had gone through what they are going through.

Like Barbara, other women such as Gloria and Antonia Vann made one very clear point which was that women need to feel comfortable before they can share their personal experiences. This is an issue in many shelters because often times it is a challenge for women to open up because they don’t have that sense of comfort which makes it difficult for them to speak openly about their personal life. As mentioned, many women who are battling with substance abuse go to shelters for battered women and in order to help address this problem there must be trust. When a women speaks out about her personal experiences that makes it easier for other women to relate to her as well as facilitating the process for them to speak out as well. This gives them a sense of strength and courage because they know that they are not alone.

Substance Abuse and Domestic Violence

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Dating Violence for LGBT Teens Op-Ed

According to this article, LGBT teens are at a greater risk to experience all types of dating violence. The goal of this study was to compare dating violence experiences of LGBT teens with experiences of heterosexual teens. The types of experiences being compared were physical, psychological, sexual, and cyber dating abuse. The study also compared the victimization and perpetration by females, males, and transgendered teens. The study compared the differences in both populations seeking help. It is important to find what groups are at a greater risk for dating violence, so prevention programs can be created to target that population.

Factors that increase the risk of dating violence are depression, family abuse, being isolated from peers, and substance abuse. All of these factors are seen in LGBT teens. Not only can teens be emotionally and physically abused, parents have kicked their children out when finding out about their sexual orientation. Sixty percent of LGBT teens feel unsafe at their school.

LGBT teens showed higher rates of all types of dating violence compared to heterosexual teens. Forty-three percent of LGBT students reported physical abuse while twenty-nine percent of heterosexual teens reported physical abuse. Fifty-nine percent of LGBT teens reported psychological abuse while forty-six percent of heterosexual teens reported psychological abuse. Thirty-seven percent of LGBT teens reported cyber dating abuse while twenty-six percent of heterosexual teens reported cyber dating abuse. Twenty-three percent of LGBT teens reported sexual coercion while heterosexual teens reported twelve percent. It was also found that LGBT teens reported perpetrating dating violence at higher levels than heterosexual teens. Transgender teens are at the highest risk for dating violence. LGBT teens were more likely to get help from dating violence than heterosexual teens.

This study supports prevention programs directed at LGBT students, the training of teachers in being aware of dating violence, students leading support groups. More research still needs to be done on how LGBT teens are experiencing dating violence.

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Op-Ed: Femicides and Gender-Based Violence in Central America

All over the world femicides are occurring and gender based violence is constantly being shown through the news, social media, and by word of mouth every day! Femicide is the killing of women for cultural or gender based reasons, it ties closely with hate crime and sexism. Today, violence against women and young girls is ongoing with incredibly high rates in Central America. El Salvador holds the highest rate of femicide or gender motivated killings in the world. Guatemala is not far behind placing third while Honduras follows behind in sixth place. These Central American countries execute violence brutally with some victims being burned with their feet and hands bound together, some are beheaded, tortured, and raped before their death. From the year 2000 there were approximately 200 reported cases of femicide in Central America raising to over 600 reported cases by the year 2011.Domestic violence cases began with around 1500 cases in the year 2000 which increased to over 6000 cases in 2009 and 2010.

The widespread accounts of murder correlate with the widespread impunity. With very little to no help from their government and its officials, people in these countries know they will be exempt from prosecution for several reasons. First, institutions responsible for investigating and prosecuting these cases lack the financial resources leaving them underfunded as well ineffective. There is some help coming in from activists and government officials, but not enough is being done or provided for those facing abuse. Laws and regulations are not being enforced properly or at all for the matter! There are no shelters for battered women, funding for help or support, and what about the abused children with no place for refuge? Child abuse is extremely common with high rates residing in Central America with high numbers of child trafficking victims as well. Extra judicial killings are very common in these countries, they are illegal government sponsored executions of minors. In 2009, 447 cases were reported and had risen to 802 in 2010 and a whopping 1068 in 2011. Again, there are no shelters for these children, no refuges, no government regulation or laws exempting these acts or laws of strict punishment.

In efforts to improve these statistics and provide aid and support to these women and young girls who fall victim to abuse, the CGRS was formed. This group has goals to combat femicide and provide a pathway to protection for gender based violence victims or victims of domestic abuse. Human rights advocates and campaigns have been stepping up to the plate in fighting for women’s rights and a fact-finding mission has been launched to gather information from all perspectives. I think prevention programs, support groups, and by educating younger generations about the ongoing issue will help to push for the positive change Central American countries and their people need.  Safety tips, regulating and overseeing officials at work, or training programs for officials and activists to properly engage in positive change would also be essential. We can’t stand around and let the violence continue to sky rocket. We the people must come together and fight together for equality and justice for all.

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“Why Domestic Violence Prevention Programs Don’t Work”


The news article by NBC talks about how these Domestic Violence Prevention Programs do in fact change the way men look at woman, but it doesn’t change their abusive behavior. Domestic violence is built on sexism and the reason for the abuse is primarily social.The article goes on to say that 1/3 women will experience some kind of abuse from their partners in their lifetime.

I gathered from this article that since sexism is the primary cause of domestic abuse we should be just as, if not more concerned about sexism as much as domestic violence. If one effects the other we should be coming at the problems together instead of separately. Thoughts?

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Obama on Race Relations

The article that I chose was not directly related to domestic violence, but our discussion of race involving the Charleston shooting sparked my interest and that is what led me to this article. The article focuses on an interview that President Obama had with Marc Maron, in the interview the President focuses on the state of race relations and gun policies in our nation. Which is exactly what Dr. Pearce was discussing in our lecture for today. Dr. Pearce mentioned that maybe these murders would finally be the wake-up call we need to beginning discussing race and gun laws in our country, and that is exactly what President Obama did. In the article Obama does acknowledge the positive growth that our country has experienced over the past few decades, but he also acknowledges that we are not done growing yet. He mentions that just because racism is not as overt as it once was it does not mean that it does not exist, as we have seen from all the recent violence in this country. Obama also speaks of the strong grip that the NRA has on Congress as being one of the reasons why gun control is not as strict in this country as it should be. Overall, the interview was pretty interesting and I’m curious to see how the nation will react to his statements. Hopefully this will be a change into a more positive direction for our country!

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OP-Ed: Do College Campuses need to provide Sexual Assault programs?

When you go into college many of us always believed that these years are supposed to be the best years of our lives. What happens if you go out one night, get belligerently drunk, and the next morning you wake up to find that you have been sexually assaulted? This happens all too often on college campuses. Women have found themselves in situations where they have been attacked and raped by strangers or sometimes even acquaintances. In a study done at four different universities it was discovered that around 27% of women reported being a victim of unwanted sexual assault on their campuses.

In an article titled, Sexual Assault Programming on College Campuses: Using Social Psychological Belief and Behavior Change Principles to Improve Outcomes, they discuss the possibility of having a program at every college teaching about rape and the problems of rape on campuses. They found that if students were taught about the culture of rape it could help prevent this from happening on college campuses. Many students come into college with the idea that rape is something that won’t happen to them. It is important for students to learn that they have to be responsible and aware of all the possibilities around them.

This article assesses what the social norms are of college campuses are with dealing with rape. We as students on college campuses should ban together to make it possible for a program to be brought together in hopes to help prevent Sexual Assault. With more education students can understand the risks and what they need to know to help prevent these situations. Males and Females need to understand the concept that “No means No” and that if a partner does not fully consent then the situation should not happen. With these programs we would be able to teach students these concepts in a more personal way.

College Sexual Assault Program

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