UNODC coordinates activity on gender violence in university environments at the 12th Meeting of the Brazilian Forum on Public Security

Brasilia, 22 August, 2018 - UNODC coordinated, on Wednesday (22), in Brasilia (DF), the round of talks "Gender Violence in University Environments" during the 12th Meeting of the Brazilian Forum on Public Security.

The activity, which was held in partnership with Instituto Caixa Seguradora, brought together young women from Brasilia (DF) and Salvador (BA) to discuss practices of physical, verbal and emotional violence experienced by women in university settings.

Mafoane Odara, coordinator of Combating Violence Against Women at the Avon Institute, mediated the activity. Participants as facilitators were Professor Haydée Caruso, from the University of Brasilia (UnB) and researcher in the area of ​​Public Security, Amanda Bezerra, a student of Pedagogy from the same university, and Joyce Melo, a communication student at the UniJorge Faculty in Salvador. Both students are participants in the youth network of the Youth Ambassadors Programme, an initiative of the UNODC to train young leaders within the context of Agenda 2030.

Issues such as psychological violence against women, security inside and outside universities and patriarchal institutional cultures were addressed during the activity. The issue of mental health among women was also highlighted. According to Amanda Bezerra, one of the founders of the feminist collective  "No Me Calo" ( I do not shut up),  "physical and sexual violence against women only reflects constraints routinely exercised by male teachers and students." She  commented.

The relationship between students and police was widely debated by facilitators and the public. The participants highlighted the distrust of using police units in case of physical violence, due to the low contingent of female police officers, both in patrol and in police stations. In addition, precarious physical structures, such as lack of lighting and collective transportation, strengthen the culture of fear and aggression, segregating the female audience from participating in activities or using public spaces, such as university libraries, at night.

In an interview, Mafoane Odara highlighted the role of student groups as innovative tools for prevention and protection against violence against women within university settings. "Student gatherings have been fundamental in caring for, sheltering women who suffer violence and have made important provocations for the structure to be revised, from the physical structure to the symbolic structure, which is to create spaces where women can ascend and occupy places to talk about the various forms of violence they suffer. " She  stated.

The Avon Institute conducted a survey in 2015 with alarming data on the subject. In the study carried out with approximately 2,000 higher education students from all over the country (60% of the group composed of women), a significant percentage of those interviewed stated that they were afraid of being a victim of violence in university settings (42%), having been intellectually disqualified by being a woman (49%) or meeting colleagues who were (62%). Alarmingly, 63% of the interviewees, victims of some type of violence within the university space, admitted that they had not reacted.

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