Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Student life: Raising awareness for a global cause

Today we turn the podium over to Brenna Allen (BC13/DC14) for the latest post in our series on students' civic engagement beyond the classroom.

One in three women on the planet will be raped or beaten during her lifetime.

We assume we don’t know many of these women, that our friends, neighbors, sisters and mothers aren’t the victims. Sadly this isn’t the case, and we cannot begin to fight sexual assault until we acknowledge that it is a problem.

And so we acknowledged it. To raise awareness of the problem of sexual assault, a group of five SAIS Bologna students organized a campaign for Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

Rupi Rai quizzes Lulu Farias in the monologue
"I asked a six-year-old girl."
Throughout April, we arranged a series of events to encourage discussion among classmates. Nearly the whole student body participated, either as volunteers for the events or by donating money to the Casa delle Donne, a battered women’s shelter in Bologna.

The highlight was a production of "The Vagina Monologues" featuring a cast of SAIS women. As this was the acting debut for most of us, we rehearsed for several weeks.

Some students couldn’t wait to see us on stage while others were understandably apprehensive considering the nature of the play. In the end, students stuck together, and about 130 of our classmates filled the audience.

It’s not easy to muster the courage to act out having an orgasm on stage, but luckily the audience rolled in the aisles with laughter.

We accomplished what we had hoped for: to get everyone talking about sexual assault, how it has affected us and why this problem needs to be addressed.

Through ticket sales and proceeds raised from a kickball tournament, trivia night and poker game, we raised almost 1200 euros for Casa delle Donne. But just as important as helping bolognesi women in need, we threw a spotlight on a problem that many would rather ignore. Together we took a small step in the fight against sexual violence against women.

Brenna Allen (BC13/DC14)

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