January 17th, 2011

Abuse women? Never, say men in Singapore

Singapore, 15th December – Some men do it in just one sentence; others make a little speech; a few of them burst into song. Some stand in front of the camera alone; but the majority are accompanied by their wives, daughters, colleagues, sisters, cousins, or friends. Most speak in English, but Malay, Mandarin and even Thai is also heard.

The 60 or so men who have submitted their videos to The Because I Love Her Project Facebook page say it in many different ways, but all of them say the same thing: “Because I Love Her I pledge to never condone violence against women.”

The Because I Love Her Project, AWARE’s latest undertaking to get men in Singapore to stand up and speak out about violence against women, is AWARE’s contribution to the White Ribbon Campaign, an annual global effort that started in 1991 to get men to take a stand against the abuse of women.

Launched on 25th November, which is the International Day to Eliminate Violence against Women, the online video campaign was initially scheduled to end on 20th December. But the response has been so good that AWARE has extended the deadline and will keep accepting entries for the judge’s selection until 14th February 2011 – Valentine’s Day. A composite video compiling the best of the submissions will be released on International Women’s Day (8th March) next year.

“We’re seeing some very powerful and moving statements being made, and some pledges are really creatively done. That’s why we’ve decided to keep this campaign running for two more months. Our aim is to give good guys a space to voice their protest. From the support we’ve received so far from men of all ages and backgrounds, it’s clear there are many guys out there who would do anything to protect the women in their life from any kind of violence. These men need to be heard and that’s what The Because I Love Her Project is about,” said Corinna Lim, AWARE’s Executive Director.

At the forefront of the campaign are four Champions – outstanding, well-respected men who are acting as spokesmen for the project. The Because I Love Her Champions are US Ambassador to Singapore David I. Adelman, former Nominated Member of Parliament Siew Kum Hong, Reverend Dr. Yap Kim Hao and actor Lim Kay Siu.

Notable videos have been submitted by a wide range of guys, including 12-year-old Utkarsh Mali, who declares his mother ‘the best mum in the world’; a capella group Vocaluptuous who sing a rendition of Nat King Cole’s L.O.V.E to band member Simone and; Kirpal Singh Sidhu and his 3-year-old son, Jasdev, that men should treat women as their equals.

“While women in Singapore have made much progress in many areas, the reality is that far too many still have to deal with violence,” Ms Lim said.

The 2010 International Violence Against Women Survey, conducted by the Society Against Family Violence and NUS, found that one in 10 women in Singapore has been a victim of violence.

The Subordinate Courts report that in 2009, an average of eight Personal Protection Order applications were made by women seeking legal protection from abuse or physical threats. For every protection order taken out, there are scores of others who suffer in silence.

“We know that the majority of men are opposed to this abuse. We call on them to join our campaign and record their pledge,” said Ms Lim. “To not condone violence against women includes not keeping quiet in the face of a culture which makes jokes about rape, date rape, drunken rampages and dominating through fear and intimidation.

“It means not remaining silent when other men brag of their abuses. It means stepping in to help the women in their lives who need their support. It means stepping up and being an everyday hero simply by saying, ‘That’s not funny. That is NOT cool’.”

AWARE is also seeking partners to collaborate with on this project – companies, organisations, schools or groups who want to contribute to the project through videos, sponsorship or other forms of support are all welcome.

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