Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Legal Literacy Programme at HELP University

Left to Right: Ann Chuah, Vicky Alahakone, Meera Samanther, Goh Siu Lin, Marisa Regina
Back row: Jane Pragasam, Tham Hui Ying
The Association of Women Lawyers (AWL) was selected by NCWO to conduct a legal literacy programme for the 1st year law students of HELP University. The one day affair took place last Friday (25th May, 2012) from 11am to 6pm at HELP University's auditorium.

The AWL team was mobilised and the programme outline consisted of the followig topics:

a) Sex and Gender (Meera Samanther);

b) Violence against Women (Ann Chuah);

c) Sexual Harassment (Goh Siu Lin and Jane Pragasam);

d) Domestic Violence (Vicky Alahakone and Tham Hui Ying);

e) Feminist's Perspective of Law (Meera Samanther).

For her session on "Sex and Gender", Meera organised 2 groups of students
and directed them to list down the characteristics of a male and female

The objective of this exercise is to break the stereotypes we all have in our minds about men and women. Women could also possess "male" characteristics. For example, women could be arrogant, sexist, ambitious, strong, driven whereas men also have "female" characteristics such as, be caring, gentle, nurturing etc.

Compartmentalising women and men into traditional stereotypes, socialises us to behave a certain way.
If women are perceived as weak, this may sometimes lead to acts of violence against women being committed. What we were trying to do was to break entrenched cultural norms and perceptions about women and say that women too can be powerful, articulate, strong etc.

Ann and her session on "Violence Against Women".

Promoting AWL.
Jane Pragasam and Goh Siu Lin jointly delivered a
presentation on "Sexual Harassment".

Our target was to convey the issues of Sexual Harassment ("SH") in the most easily digestible form. 

We began by a massive group massage as you can see in the photograph below. Everyone laughed and giggled, thinking it was a big joke.

We then asked, "Who enjoyed the massage?"... huge show of hands.
"Who didn't"?? - two to three hands shot up.
"If you didn't, why didn't you say so?"

This exercise was to illustrate one point. SH is SUBJECTIVE. Whether it is offensive or welcome is to be seen from the perspective of the recipient of the unwanted attention.

The Domestic Violence session was interactive.
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Vicky's idea was brilliant. She illustrated in a very powerful way, three common examples faced by DV victims.

Domestic Violence Session presented by Vicky Alahakone and Tham Hui Ying

The students were given three scenarios and accompanying scripts. They were requested to read out their respective lines.

A short post-mortem would follow the skit and the students were asked to identify what forms of DV was taking place. Eg:

a) Physical;

b) Sexual;

c) Financial;

d) Psychological.

The students were taught the typical dynamics which occur in the cycle of violence of Domestic Violence.

The 1st year law students of HELP University with lecturers and the AWL team, at the end of the programme.

It was a fun and enriching experience for the AWL team and we hope to be able to conduct similar programmes for other educational establishments to educate and empower their students of their rights.

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