Information in English: Roks' events at CSW

Monday, March 4, 6.15 PM, Church Center for the UN

Violence against elderly women – time to break the silence

The existing knowledge about violence against elderly women is limited. But we know that elderly women are exposed to the same types of violence as younger women; physical, psychological, sexual and economic. In 2012, Roks has put a special focus on violence against elderly women. At the beginning of the year, we had two goals. First, to break the silence surrounding this issue, make it visible and start talking about violence against elderly women. And second, to examine our women's shelters experiences of violence against elderly women, and to provide them with information and tools to be better prepared to support elderly women exposed to men's violence.

In our report “Violence against elderly women”, we provide a summary of the existing research and knowledge of the issue, the women's shelters experiences of meeting elderly women, and our suggestions for better support to elderly women exposed to violence, and for better preventative work.

In this event, Roks' vice chairwoman Malin Olsson will provide a summary of our year with focus on violence against elderly women, from putting the issue on the agenda through media, politicians and public opinion, to developing educational materials and methods.

We will show our documentary film “We who survived”, with English subtitles. In the film, older women, women from our women’s shelters as well as professionals from the police, the health care sector and researchers, talk about their experience of violence against elderly women, how it can be discovered and prevented.

After the film, we invite Fiona Neary, Rape Crisis Network, Ireland, who launched a campaign in 2012 about older women affected by sexual violence, to talk about her experience of sexual violence towards elderly women.

Tuesday, March 5, 10.30 AM, Armenian Convention Center

When violence continues in court – family courts, custody cases and protecting mothers

In 2011, Roks, The National Organisation for Women’s Shelters and Young Women’s Shelters in Sweden, arranged a conference on the issue of the children’s perspective in custody cases where the father has exposed the mother and/or children to violence and abuse. Researchers and practitioners from Sweden, the UK and the US showed how family courts and social services who focus on the child’s right to grow up with two parents fail to understand the violence that these children need protection from.

Mothers trying to protect children from further violence and abuse tend to not be heard in custody cases, risk to be deemed uncooperative, and punished for trying to protect their children. Further, in cases of violence against the mother and/or the children, this violence tends to continue when court-decided occasions for access to children are carried out.
In filmed interviews with English subtitles, three moms tell their touching and troubling stories of how they gathered the courage to leave the violent and abusive fathers of their children. However, the violence was not taken seriously in court, which led to continued abuse by the fathers.

Angela Beausang, chairwoman of Roks, invites Jennifer Hoult, Juris Doctor and certified New York State Rape Crisis and Trauma Counselor, for a discussion about how to ensure that children are protected by family courts, and that protecting moms are not punished.

Thursday, March 7, 8.30 AM, Salvation Army

The young women’s shelter movement in Sweden – methods, practices and language to reach out to young women and girls

The young women’s shelters in Sweden have been active in promoting feminism and equality since 1995 when the first young women’s shelter opened in Stockholm. Much has happened since then and there are now approximately 60 young women’s shelters in Sweden. They are all run by young women who work with supporting and empowering to young women and girls, with a feminist analysis as a base for their work.

All though most of them do not provide a temporary home for young women, the young women’s shelters are a form of psychological shelter for girls. This is a place where they are accepted as how they are and surrounded by girls and women who all work for their empowerment and right to live a life free form any form of violence. Being in this kind of environment is empowering in itself. Being in this kind of environment is empowering in itself.

The young women’s shelters do a lot of preventative work in schools. In schools we have the chance of meeting girls and young women who would not come to the shelters themselves.

The young women’s shelters have elaborated methods and strategies to talk to young women about their experiences of violence and what it is like to grow up as a woman in an unequal society. Ways to talk to girls and young women about the violence all women are exposed to and how it limits us, in public areas, in school and at home.

Beatrice Unander-Scharin has been an activist at the young women's shelter in her hometown of Vasteras, Sweden since 2008. She has primarily worked with young women's empowerment groups both in school and at the shelter. She has worked with empowering girls with psychological disabilities and has also led group sessions for girls who have experienced sexual violence. In 2010 she was elected as a board member of Roks, the National Organisation for Women's Shelters and Young Women's Shelters in Sweden.

Beatrice will talk about her experiences of preventative and supporting work with young women. In an interactive session, we invite you to participate in exercises elaborated by the young women’s shelters.

Anna Holmqvist is the press and information officer at Roks, and a former activist at a women’s and young women’s shelter. She holds a master’s degree in political science and has worked as a journalist for several years.

Anna will talk about the importance of language when meeting young women and girls. How do we talk about sexualized violence, men’s violence against women, feminism, the gender-power order, separatism and empowerment in a way that reflects the reality of young women?

Thursday, March 7, 2.30 PM, Salvation Army

Why are policies on prostitution important to combat violence against women?

CEDAW declares that states must take all appropriate measures, including legislation, to suppress all forms of traffic in women and exploitation of prostitution of women (Article 6). Even so, and despite the increasing understanding and agreement that trafficking and prostitution seriously violate women’s human rights, the purchase of human beings for the purpose of sexual exploitation is still not prohibited in all countries.
Since its adoption in 1999, the Swedish model has proven to be the most successful in combatting prostitution. The evaluation of the Swedish law that criminalizes the demand for prostitution shows that street prostitution has been halved since the adoption of the law, and there are no signs that indoor prostitution has increased or that prostitution has gone underground. The law has also changed attitudes and values in the Swedish society.
Roks, the National Organization for Women’s Shelters and Young Women’s Shelters, played an active part in getting the law in place. From 1986 and until its adoption, Roks continued to promote the criminalization of the buyer of sexual services.
In this session, Roks shares our experiences of lobbying and promoting the law that is today known as the Swedish model, and our experiences of the effects of the legislation. Together with panelists from different countries, we discuss policies on prostitution, why it is an important part in the work of combating men’s violence against women, and ways forward.

Speaker: Angela Beausang, chairwoman of Roks. “How the Swedish women’s movement promoted the Swedish law that criminalized demand, and how we see the effects of the legislation today”.

Panel: Jonas Trolle, Stockholm Police Department, Sweden, Gudrun Jonsdottir, chairwoman, Stigamot, Education and Counseling Center for Survivors of Sexual Abuse and Violence, Iceland, Norma Ramos, Executive Director, Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, USA, Agnete Ström, Women’s Front, Norway, Dorit Otzen, Reden International, Denmark.