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What about you, do you ask the question?

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25 November 2022 Tags: 16 days of activism, Are you okay?, Campaign, gender-based violence, Sexual harassment

During this year’s 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence, Rutgers talks openly about sexuality, consent and boundaries. And encourages others to do so too. Especially, speaking out when you see sexual harassment taking place. Karin van der Velde, advocate at Rutgers, starts 16 Days off by explaining why asking ‘Are you okay?’ as an active bystander can make all the difference.

You don’t need to look far to find people who are uncomfortable in public. Everyone has had moments where they have felt uncomfortable or seen or experienced harassment. Sexual harassment takes place too often, here at home in the Netherlands and around the world. When we cross the street in the dark and get cat-called or get touched inappropriately as we take the bus to work. When we are told by a co-worker that we look too sexy. When we go to the restroom alone in a nightclub and get groped by a stranger. When we wear something that is considered inappropriate for our gender.

It is time for change.

This is why Rutgers focusses on bystanders  during 16-days of activism against gender-based violence.

We call on anyone and everyone to keep their eyes open and to intervene when they see behaviour that makes them question someone’s safety.

Though the slurs and behaviours people use may differ, the feeling is the same. When you feel uneasy or see something, there’s a chance someone feels unsafe too and you can do something to help them.

When you walk to work today, or take the train, or when you go out for a drink with friends or colleagues, when you see someone feeling uncomfortable, will you ask the question: Are you okay?

We want to create spaces, buses, trains, squares, clubs, schools, offices and any place where people move around, where women, men and gender diverse people can safely exist. And when they do experience harassment, they feel supported by others who stand by them.

Being able to talk openly about sexuality, consent and boundaries. In public spaces, at work, online, at school or at home. That’s our dream. Because only then everyone can enjoy their sexuality.

“Let's break the taboo together, open conversations and build safe spaces that leave no room for sexual and gender-based violence.”
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Are you okay? 

In the Netherlands, Rutgers campaigns against sexual harassment in night life.

Are you okay? Is the simple but effective way to intervene when you suspect someone’s boundaries are being crossed. The coming 16 Days, we’re sharing this message globally. We asked young people from around the world to reflect on sexual harrassment in social situations in their own country. We’ve asked them if they’ve seen someone get sexually harassed? How do they recognise it and what can they do when they see someone’s boundaries being crossed? What do they need to address sexual harassment? And finally: how would it help if bystanders reached out and asked: Are you okay?

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