Do you know what to do if you witnessed an act of sexual violence? I don’t know much beyond calling the police, but there are a lot of things we can do to stand against domestic and sexual violence.
The University of Hawaii-Maui College Sexual Violence Prevention Project – named “Ponolove” – is inviting the community to support their “Walk A Mile in Her Shoes” event. This Tuesday they are asking men to man-up and don heels (yes, they will provide them) to generate awareness of sexual violence.
“There is a more far reaching impact when men support awareness of sexual violence in the community,” says Angela Nuemann, a Mental Health and Social Services grad student at University of Hawaii. “We have found that there are higher rates of sexual violence during the college years so we are bringing this consciousness to campus in the form of this march.”
By asking men to be the leaders in the fight towards preventing violence against women, the event aims to open communication about gender violence and shed light on women’s experiences with violence rape and sexual assault. Sexual violence remains one of the most under reported crimes nationally. Women aged 16 to 24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence.
A report from the Sexual Violence Strategic Planning Group in 2005 estimated that female victims over the age of 12 report rapes 36 percent of the time, and only 26 percent of sexual assaults are reported. If the offender is a boyfriend or husband that crime is not reported 75 percent of the time.
Those numbers make designating funding for social services difficult. A report by the state Attorney General’s office also identified that the forcible rape rate for Hawaii is now slightly higher than the national average, after being lower for many years.
So far the Maui Fire Department, Maui Police Department, Drug Court clients, students and other groups have said they will attend. Ladies are asked to support by holding signs and cheering the guys on in the high-heeled march.
The march starts at 11am at the UH Maui campus, with performances from Lia Live and Gomega. Makani from Pacific Radio Group will emcee. Organizations manning booths at the event include the Domestic Violence Task Force, Women Helping Women, Child and Family Services, PACT, UHMC Counseling Department, UHMC Educational Opportunity Center, Maui Family Support Services Father Involvement, Department of Health, QLCC Native Hawaiians Men’s Group and the Prevent Suicide Maui County Task Force.
These community supporters will be there to provide information on what to do and how to help in relationship and sexual violence encounters. Participants can also pick up a card, get it stamped by these booths and enter to win fabulous prizes.