Attitudes change about domestic violence

From left to right: Cynthia Lee Sinclair leads Senator Kaiali‘i Kahele, Rep. Angus McKevley and Senator Stanley Chang in the White Ribbon pledge – Eliana Christianson

Many people have heard about the new hashtag campaign, #metoo, sweeping social media. It is a grassroots movement that started as a reaction to the prolific problem of sexual harassment in the movie industry and specifically in response to the multiple accusations of sexual harassment and sexual assault by movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.

WCC student Rhea Cascayan said she learned about the #metoo campaign in her English class.

“Now that someone has spoken out, other people can too,” Cascayan said.

Studies done in 2008 by the World Health Organization and the United Nations show that gender inequality is the main cause of violence against women and girls. And while it’s been almost 100 years since women won the right to vote, gender-based violence continues to be a serious problem.

WCC, however, takes a proactive approach.

October was domestic violence (DV) awareness month, and there were many events on campus aimed at educating and reaching out to those in need of help.

Purple is the color for DV awareness, and purple ribbons were handed out to students and faculty and worn throughout the month.

The first event was respect week, part of a University of Hawai‘i system-wide campaign, which stressed that healthy relationships start with respect.

“This is important to me because everyone deserves to have a healthy relationship, and some people do not understand what a healthy relationship looks like,” said Karla Silva-Parks, WCC mental health counselor who planned the events.

There were several tabling events in Pālanakila throughout the month. Brochures from local organizations working in the field of DV were handed out and WCC’s on-site DV counselor Chelsea Stewart was present to answer questions.

WCC’s DV counselor is on campus Mondays and Tuesdays and offers confidential counseling to those in need. Confidential means that you can disclose things to her and she is not required to report it to the authorities unless someone is in immediate danger.

The biggest event on campus was a community forum held in the downstairs atrium of the library. Representatives from five community partners were present: DVAC, the prosecutor’s office’s victim’s services department; Planned Parenthood; Parents and Children; and DV Coalition. They each shared what their agency is doing to combat gender-based violence.

“It was an honor to come out and share with the college the new programs we have and get valuable feedback from students,” said Grace Alvaro Caligtan, community outreach educator at Planned Parenthood.

Immediately following the forum, there was a men’s march. Men’s marches have evolved from just being about raising awareness of male victims to men taking an active stand against DV.

“I am pleased to have marched with like-minded faculty in the Men’s March Against Domestic Violence,” WCC Chancellor Doug Dykstra said. “Just saying so is not enough … it takes the follow-through of a demonstrable action to punctuate the point that we will not countenance acts of violence against women.”

Men who want to get more involved can also join The White Ribbon campaign, which asks men to wear a white ribbon and take a pledge “not to commit, condone or keep silent about violence against women and girls.”

The campaign began in  Canada in 1991 and has since spread throughout the world.

Men can pick up a white ribbon at the circulation desk of the WCC library.


by Cynthia Lee Sinclair, Ka ‘Ohana Staff Reporter