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ORANGE THE WORLD ‒ #HearMeToo (Part I)

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The Safe Space Foundation Ghana organises 16 days of activism to end gender-based violence

The Safe Space Foundation Ghana organises 16 days of activism to end gender-based violence

“The #HearMeToo movement has been the single most powerful movement in our generation. Women all over the world are taking up arms, demanding equality and an end to gender-based violence,” says the social activist Eugenia Baffour Bankoh.

“All men and women should be advocates for the movement. The time of women fearing for their lives is up and now is the time for women to get the justice, empathy and equality we deserve. I look forward to a time where every woman feels safe and recognised,” she says.

Gender-based violence (GBV) is the collective, generic term for violent acts committed primarily against women and girls. In other words, with this form of violence, acts are committed against women and girls expressly because they are female or seen as the weaker sex.

Such violence occurs largely because of the role expectations associated with each gender and the unequal power relationships between the two genders.

Although anyone can be a victim of GBV, the focus of this article is on violence against women and girls. Gender-based violence against men does exist, but the primary targets of GBV are women and adolescent girls. Not only are they at high risk of GBV, but they suffer worse consequences than most male victims endure.

Violence against women and girls is one of the most prevalent human rights violations across the world. It knows no boundaries, whether social, economic or national. Worldwide, an estimated one in three women will experience physical or sexual abuse in her lifetime.

Orange the World

The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence is an international event, held under the auspices of the United Nations, which takes place each year. It commenced on 25 November, International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and will run until 10 December, Human Rights Day.

Building on the momentum of global movements and grass-roots campaigns such as #MeToo, #TimesUp, #BalanceTonPorc, #NiUnaMenos, #MetooIndia and HollaBack!, the theme for this year’s 16 Days and the broader UNiTE to End Violence Against Women Campaign (UNiTE) is “Orange the World: #HearMeToo”.

#HearMeToo brings to the fore voices of women and girls who have survived violence, who are acting to defend women’s rights every day. Many of them live far away from the limelight and media headlines. These are faces we may not have seen in the newspapers and people whose stories we may not have read on social media. Now, campaigners are insisting that they must be heard.

Violence against women is endemic, cutting across social status, class, race, country and age groups. Fighting anti-female discrimination and violence is at the core of UN Women’s mandate. There are solutions which can unlock the transformational change the world needs to see. The problem demands a comprehensive approach, including tightening of laws, decisive implementation to protect women and girls from violence, prevention starting at an early age and provision of accessible services for all survivors.

To mark this year’s 16 Days of Activism, this article features stories of some of the brave women and men who are paving the way for a safer, more equal and better world. Join them as they say #HearMeToo.

Ghana: The Safe Space Foundation

The Safe Space Foundation (TSSF) is an organisation which campaigns against sexual violence, with a focus on fighting the menace within communities. It is involved in intervention, prevention, safety education and creation of awareness of sexual violence.

Sexual harassment victims in Ghana are generally stigmatised and the public discourse shuns issues relating to the subject. The Safe Space Foundation creates a safe haven and acts as a voice for the voiceless, teaching the public at large about consent and how to respect individual decisions about sex and sexual activity. TSSF also holds awareness-raising events to prevent sexual violence, help survivors and ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice.

TSSF was founded in October 2017 by Eugenia Baffour Bankoh, a University of Ghana graduate in psychology and English language. She worked as a marketing manager but resigned from her job last year to create and manage the foundation full-time.

“I always expected change and hoped something was going to be done about sexual assault in this country, but after constant news of rape and assault cases, as a rape survivor myself, I knew I had to do something about it instead of hoping someone else might,” Eugenia says.

In June, TSSF organised its first conference on sexual violence, in partnership with the British Council. In recent times it has provided free therapy for victims and devised school outreach programmes to educate young children and teenagers about sexual violence.

It also runs a self-defence programme for women and a safe kids outreach which provides safe spaces for street children. It depends on donations to do its work with the street children, crowdsourcing funds and engaging volunteers who donate both their money and their spare time.

Advocate and listen

Following the United Nations’ launch of “Orange the World”, the foundation has joined the first HearMeToo campaign against gender-based violence. It started with online engagement; TSSF has persuaded users of over 300 Twitter accounts to tag their profile with an OrangeTheWorld logo. On 1 December, the foundation will hold a class on women’s empowerment and self-defence to help raise further awareness of how to empower women and girls. A walkathon on December 8 will help the cause.

The foundation has released a documentary on Accra’s street children featuring the stories of eight homeless youngsters who face rape, abuse and extreme poverty. A fundraising screening (on December 9 at the Serralio bar in Accra) figures in the line of activities. There are online sessions on every one of the 16 days, with interactive engagements to increase awareness of GBV and promote public debate.

“The HearMeToo programme is basically asking everyone to campaign, advocate, listen and give attention to the discrimination and violence women face every day,” Eugenia says. “We want to be heard. It’s time for the violence to end.”

* To donate to The Safe Space Foundation, call 026 626 0400 or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. To report abuse (anonymously, if you wish) text 024 724 3393, or visit thesafespacefoundation.org for more information