THE YEAR FOR WOMEN

Herworld (Singapore) - - FEATURE -

Natasha Ven­nerPack high­lights some of the wins, pos­i­tives and achieve­ments for women in 2018. ● In a first for Sin­ga­pore, three women min­is­ters were named in the April cab­i­net reshuf­fle: Josephine Teo, Min­is­ter for Man­power and Sec­ond Min­is­ter for Home Af­fairs; In­dra­nee Ra­jah, Min­is­ter in the Prime Min­is­ter’s Of­fice; and Grace Fu, Min­is­ter for Cul­ture, Com­mu­nity and Youth. ● Writer J.Y. Yang’s “silkpunk” fan­tasy novella The Black­Tides ofHeaven was nom­i­nated in April for a 2018 Hugo Award for Best Novella.

● In sports, Martina Lind­say

Veloso, 18, won our first gold medal in the women’s 10m air ri­fle, plus a gold in the 50m air ri­fle at the Com­mon­wealth Games in Bris­bane in April. In Au­gust, 49erFX pair Ce­cilia Low and Kim­berly Lim won Sin­ga­pore’s first sail­ing gold medal at the 2018 Jakar­taPalem­bang Asian Games. Para- eques­trian

Lau­ren­tia Tan, 39, scored a sil­ver at the World Eques­trian Games in the in­di­vid­ual cham­pi­onship Grade I event in Sep­tem­ber. Par­a­lympian swim­mer and gold medal­list Yip

Pin Xiu, 26, be­came the youngest- ever Nom­i­nated Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment in Sep­tem­ber. A month later, she won gold in the 50m back­stroke (S4) at the Asian Para Games. ● Ms Florence Chua as­sumed the role of chief of the Crim­i­nal In­ves­ti­ga­tion De­part­ment (CID) in June – the first woman to do so. She also be­came Deputy Com­mis­sioner of Po­lice (In­ves­ti­ga­tions and In­tel­li­gence).

and sex­ual as­sault – and be­fore many peo­ple in my im­me­di­ate cir­cle were com­fort­able with dis­cussing sex­ual ha­rass­ment openly.

We are now liv­ing in very dif­fer­ent times, even com­pared with three years ago. The #metoo move­ment has sparked hope in the hearts of sur­vivors of the preda­tory be­hav­iour that is now slowly be­ing ex­posed as com­mon­place in our so­ci­ety – in ev­ery so­ci­ety. My own fear of speak­ing out is di­min­ish­ing. See­ing so many prom­i­nent voices come for­ward to share their ex­pe­ri­ences al­lows us to feel less iso­lated.

Ev­ery­one want­ing to help should con­sider the fol­low­ing vi­tal points, when sit­u­at­ing them­selves as an ally in the fight against sex­ual ha­rass­ment:

If you see any­one, man or woman, be­ing placed in a po­si­tion where they ap­pear to be un­com­fort­able – whether it is on a train, in the street, in a bar – ask them if they are okay. Show them that you are in a po­si­tion to pro­vide sup­port. Fight­ing sex­ual ha­rass­ment need not be with vi­o­lence. Some­times, a kind ges­ture to­wards the sur­vivor is all that is needed.

If any­one tells you that they have ex­pe­ri­enced sex­ual ha­rass­ment, be­lieve them; do not judge or blame. Re­mem­ber that sex­ual vi­o­lence is never the “fault”

of the re­cip­i­ent. It is not some­thing that sur­vivors should be “ashamed” of. You are there to sup­port, so lis­ten. Don’t push for in­for­ma­tion that the sur­vivor is not com­fort­able giv­ing. Ask what you can do to help, and speak up, but only if you are asked to do so.En­cour­age sur­vivors to seek med­i­cal at­ten­tion if they need it, and to seek as­sis­tance in what­ever way they see fit – whether it’s to re­port the ha­rass­ment to the po­lice, to their su­per­vi­sor, to speak to some­one at the Sex­ual As­sault Care Cen­tre (Aware) or, if they wish to re­main anony­mous, to Hear to Change at www. heartochange.com. Above all, sup­port this per­son’s cho­sen course of ac­tion, no mat­ter what they ul­ti­mately de­cide to do. Even if, in the end, they de­cide to do noth­ing.

Mine should not be a cau­tion­ary tale, al­though per­haps it reads like one at fi rst glance. I feel no shame for hav­ing been the re­cip­i­ent of in­ap­pro­pri­ate be­hav­iour. I am proud of my­self for hav­ing spo­ken up, in the face of con­tin­ued and, at times, al­most over­whelm­ing re­sis­tance. I look back at my­self dur­ing that chal­leng­ing year with gen­tle­ness, know­ing that hind­sight can be a cruel critic, and with the knowl­edge that, at the time, I did ev­ery­thing I was able to do, to shel­ter my­self against an en­vi­ron­ment from which I be­lieved, and which I was told, I was un­able to es­cape.

My ex­pe­ri­ence has taught me a lot about my­self, and even more about the world in which we live. I have met the most in­cred­i­ble net­work of women who have ded­i­cated their lives to help­ing sur­vivors. I have seen loved ones grow in un­der­stand­ing and ac­cep­tance. I now have the tools, and the ex­pe­ri­ence, which I in­tend to share with the world, to sup­port other sur­vivors and, with luck, to change peo­ple’s per­cep­tions of what a “vic­tim” of ha­rass­ment re­ally looks like. I have the ut­most re­spect and ad­mi­ra­tion for all the men and women who have come for­ward. There is strength in num­bers, and ev­ery voice added to the cho­rus em­pow­ers and in­vig­o­rates those of us who are en­gaged in this mis­sion against ha­rass­ment.

We may yet have a long jour­ney ahead of us, but one day, sur­vivors will be able to stand up, with­out fear or shame, and re­port their ex­pe­ri­ence of ha­rass­ment. They will be be­lieved, they will be sup­ported, and their ha­rasser will be brought to jus­tice. It will take an army, but, thanks to #metoo, I think we fi nally have one. The abil­ity of friend­ship among women to in­duce joy and con­fi­dence should not be taken lightly, and it's some­thing we need, es­pe­cially in to­day's cli­mate, asserts writer and host Jemimah Wei.

Three years ago on Christ­mas Eve, I got down on one knee in a tiny Ital­ian bistro, the name of which I no longer re­mem­ber, only that it was dark, can­dlelit, and had ta­bles squeezed too close to one an­other. I pulled out a long speech typed on my Notes app, started and stopped a few times, then aban­doned the doomed speech en­tirely, and asked: “G, it’s been seven won­der­ful years, the next seven I be­lieve will be equally won­der­ful, or more. Any­way, what I am try­ing to say is – will you be my friend for­ever?”

There were tears, gasps, com­pli­men­tary wine, and way-too-amused servers. One of them said: “Now I’ve seen ev­ery­thing.” There was a ring, an eter­nity band in rose gold and sil­ver. We were ex­trav­a­gant in our cel­e­bra­tion of friend­ship that night, and lived like church mice in the

● Croa­t­ian foot­ball fan Pres­i­dent Kolinda Grabar

Ki­tarovic at­tended all but one 2018 World Cup match, fly­ing econ­omy on­herown

dime and of­ten watch­ing from the non-VIP stands to sup­port her team. Just for that alone, Croa­tia de­served to win.

● 40,000 South Korean

women took to the streets in Au­gust to protest se­cretly filmed spy­cam porn, as anger over the is­sue grows. ● For the first time in 38 years, women in Iran were al­lowed into the Azadi sta­dium to watch a live broad­cast of Iran's World Cup match against Spain. ● In­dia re­moved the 12 per cent “pink tax” on men­strual health items in July, which it had pre­vi­ously branded as lux­ury items.

● Iconic '90s news­room com­edy se­ries Mur­phyBrown re­turned to tele­vi­sion in Sep­tem­ber. The feisty Brown was an in­spi­ra­tion and a lodestar for work­ing women.

● New Zealand's youngest prime min­is­ter, Jacinda

Ardern, took her new­born baby Neve Te Aroha to the UN As­sem­bly in Sep­tem­ber. What's more, the travel cost for her part­ner Clarke Gay­ford (Neve's pri­mary carer) was paid for by Ardern, not tax­pay­ers. ● Showrun­ner Shonda Rhimes of Grey'sA­natomy and Scan­dal an­nounced in Oc­to­ber that she was (and still is) the “high­est-paid showrun­ner in tele­vi­sion” – a big # win in an in­dus­try that's mostly dom­i­nated by men.

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