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Monday, April 18, 2016

How Can Empowerment Self-Defense Address Coercive Sexual Environments?

The patterns of sexual and racial discrimination embedded in US culture result in a coercive sexual environment (CSE) in high-poverty, chronically violent areas, with a lack of strong community connections. A CSE means that women and girls routinely experience harassment, domestic violence, and sexual exploitation (Zweig et al 2015). Advocates recommend using “place-conscious strategies” to effectively address coercive sexual environments.

Place-conscious strategies (Turner et al 2014):
Connect to city, state, and federal initiatives
Integrate efforts across policy domains in a neighborhood
Integrate the work of multiple organizations
Identify shared goals and assess whether or not the goals are being met
Recognize and plan for residential mobility

What does this mean for Empowerment Self-Defense (ESD)?
Empowerment self-defense programs offer important tools for women and girls to understand, prevent, interrupt, and stop sexual violence. Place-conscious strategies in terms of ESD means: 
Find out and connect to existing initiatives to address violence
Work with existing organizations in a neighborhood
Work to have ESD become part of violence prevention efforts
Develop programs which allow people to come when they can

Turner, Margery Austin, Peter Edelman, Erika Poethig, and Laudan Aron with Matthew Rogers and Christopher Lowenstein.  2014. “Tackling Persistent Poverty in Distress Urban Neighborhoods.  Urban Institute.

Zweig, Janine M., Susan J. Popkin, and Mary Bogle. 2015. “Let girls be girls: Growing up too soon in neighborhoods of concentrated poverty.” Urban Wire.

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