‘Would you step in?’: Viral video on violence against women garners over 40,000 views in two days
What would you do if you saw a man abusing his girlfriend in the middle of Orchard Road? This is the question that the We Can! campaign poses with a new video, ‘Would you step in?’.
The video is part of We Can!’s social media campaign during the international 16 Days of Activism. It has gone viral since its release on Monday 2 December, with more than 40,000 views on YouTube in just two days.
The video features two volunteers enacting an abusive relationship on Orchard Road, with a man physically and verbally abusing his visibly frightened girlfriend. Many people noticed the incident and stopped to watch, but did not intervene. But we did not go home disappointed: three passers-by stepped up to tell the male actor to stop his actions, and offer help to the “abused girlfriend”.
The main message of the video is that we all have a part to play in ending violence against women. The video focuses on those who intervened, to highlight the value of helping strangers in need, and to encourage others to do the same. This message urgently needs to be heard. The Charities Aid Foundation, which measures the willingness of people to help strangers across 135 countries and economies, ranked Singapore in second last place in its latest index.
The video depicts violence in a public place, but it also emphasises that most violence against women happens at home, and directs viewers to ‘Blk 2511’, a powerful Facebook app that takes users behind the doors of a seemingly peaceful HDB block to uncover stories of abuse. It seeks to communicate that domestic violence is not a private matter.
Intervention is just as important in these cases as it is out on the street, because many survivors of domestic violence cite a lack of support from family and friends as a major reason they were forced to remain in an abusive situation. For example, they may be told that it is their responsibility to placate their abusers, or that they should endure abuse for the sake of their children. Leaving violent relationships can have consequences for matters such as finances and housing, which can only be addressed with support from others.
We Can! asks every one of us to provide that support. On an individual level, we can offer a listening ear or a safe place to stay. We can also intervene to let abusers know that their abusive conduct is unacceptable and correct the misconceptions that they use to justify it. We can participate in changing the social structures and attitudes that enable, legitimise and perpetuate violence. People who wish to
find out more about the changes they can make are invited to participate in one of the ongoing We Can! workshops where these questions are explored in greater detail.
We Can! is also holding an Arts Fest on Sunday 8 December at the Aliwal Arts Centre, organised around the theme ‘The Silence of Violence’, to raise more awareness. Survivors of violence will join activists and artists in sharing stories of abuse and what we can do to end it. If you would like to attend the festival as a media representative, please email your name and organisation to Kokila at [email protected][googlemap]https://maps.google.com.sg/maps?safe=off&q=28+aliwal+street&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x31da19b14610ebc5:0x4aafb63bf02a4467,28+Aliwal+St,+199918&gl=sg&ei=1y2fUrHSC8GPrgeDpYGoDg&sqi=2&ved=0CCoQ8gEwAA[/googlemap]
Frequently asked questions about ‘Would you step in?’
1. Why focus on violence against women specifically?
Violence of any kind is deplorable, regardless of the gender of the victim. However, the gendered attitudes that enable and excuse violence against women have many specific features that differ from societal attitudes towards other forms of violence, so it is helpful to address them separately.
Moreover, recent statistics released by PAVE indicate that spousal abuse is the most common form of family violence and most victims of spousal abuse are women. This is consistent with global patterns in intimate partner abuse (see for example the findings of the World Health Organisation).
Blk 2511, the We Can! Facebook app, showcases a range of stories of violence. Male victims and female abusers are among the characters featured.
2. Does the video trivialise violence against women?
The scenario acted out in the video, like the stories in Blk 2511, has been created based on the accounts of real people who have encountered violence. One of the messages of We Can! is that violence isn’t always black and blue – it can take many forms and verbal abuse is often part of a broader pattern of abuse involving other kinds of violence too.
About We Can! Singapore
We Can! End All Violence Against Women began as a six-year, six-country South Asian campaign in 2004. The movement has since spread around the world. In 2013, Singapore became the 16th country to participate in this global movement.
With the tagline ‘Change starts with me’, the campaign uses interactive theatre, intimate workshops and collaborative projects to question the gendered social attitudes and stereotypes that tolerate violence. The campaign reaches out to individual Change Makers as well as community groups, provoking thought and discussion on the less obvious forms of violence against women.