One of todays panels, The Many Faces of Violence Against Women & Girls – A Social Work Response, proved just how important social workers are today and in the future. The panel provided a variety of ways to which social worker’s can take action against violence against women and girls.
Rebecca Davis, a professor at Rutgers University, was enlightening sharing with the audience her work and accomplishments thus far. She spoke of the need for culturally appropriate protection mechanisms and the legacy colonialism has left on the residual social welfare model that is needs based rather than rights based. She mentioned the importance of knowing what is happening on the ground to the victims of these violent crimes. Rebecca did give examples such as Malawi’s police victims support units (101 units) whom are trained on child protection and gender based violence. Another example was Niger using peer to peer methods in which these peers share the risks and benefits to leaving home and/or villages to find work. Rebecca provided a broad base of ideas and ways social workers can take action within their practice, as well as how countries are utilizing social work models.
Anasuya Ray, a Rutgers University Doctoral student, focused on women in Afghanistan and how violence is a part of their daily lives. She posed an interesting and thoughtful question stating, “what is the collective view of violence in a place that has seen conflict for four generations?” Historically, Afghanistan’s civil wars has affected women’s rights and brought about gender violence. It is important to note that even though the country is patriarchal there is evidence of men standing up for women and their rights, which isn’t shown in the mainstream media. Anasuya also mentioned the courage and determination of men and women rising above, yet we rarely hear or see this in mainstream media. Anasuya offered ideas for the road ahead in Afghanistan such as policy implementations, cultural considerations and practices. She also mentioned that the people living within the country are interested in moving forward but at their own pace.
Khaliyl Lane presented on the increase of trafficking of women & girls during world sporting events. He mentioned this is a $32 billion business and has been a huge problem during the Super Bowl, World Cup, and the Olympics. During the 2011 Super Bowl, there was 133 underage arrests for prostitution and a 95% increase during the past Olympics. Khaliyl stated there is a demand for cheap labor and that it is difficult to detect human trafficking unless victims come forward. It is also hard to control due to the laws varying by country and the sporting events being in densely populated areas. He did mention that there have been efforts to combat human trafficking through the National Anti-Trafficking Awareness Campaigns by utilizing ads, billboards, and commercials. There also has been collaboration between authorities with anti-trafficking agencies, which can help to prevent these instances in the future.
Rio Comaduran, the last speaker, touched on VAW and girls, and the challenges for social work education. Rio mentioned organizations such as IASSW, WGG, and other NGO committees. The IASSW promotes development of social work education throughout the world, encourages international exchange, provides forums, and develops standards. Rio did give recommendations such as supporting colleagues efforts and cultural exchange, workshops & symposiums, internships in areas of girls empowerment, gender programming, and to support and foster international grassroots and community organizing efforts.
Not only was this panel informative on violence against women and girls, it displayed what social workers do and are capable of doing in the US and abroad. It was inspiring and exciting for me to see what those in, my soon to be profession, were accomplishing as well as seeing social workers come together to support each other and the work that was being done. Anasuya mentioned a quote from a woman she met in Afghanistan before she finished, because it was so powerful I felt it was important to do the same. The woman stated,”If war was not there in Afghanistan, I would be like you. My life would be like yours today.”