Photo credit: Elisa Berdica

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

Violence can strike any woman, at any age. It stops at no place in the world and at hardly any position. It can occur in the private sphere or at the workplace - or it can strike women arbitrarily ... simply because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Violence has many faces. It may show in the language chosen, in comments and remarks, in jokes or in open confrontation. It may occur psychologically in the form of threats or intimidation. Or as physical or sexualized violence. It may show in the form of (multiple) discrimination in the public space or at public institutions. Violence occurs in personal contact, but also increasingly online.

Since 1981, every year on November 25, worldwide initiatives have been calling attention to the observance of human rights with regard to women and girls.

Historically, the date is based on the date of the 1960 assassination of the three Mirabal sisters, members of a renowned lower-middle class family and political activists in the Dominican Republic. Therefore, the United Nations General Assembly designated November 25 as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

Photo credit: Andreas Bayerl

On the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on November 25, 2020, the professional advisors of the University of Mannheim will be available to you throughout the day to help you with any issues related to sexual harassment! Please feel free to make an appointment (ZOOM/phone call) with the person of your choice by e-mail. 

You will also find support from the ASTA equal opportunity commissioner.

Who can I contact in case of sexual harassment?

Ute Pfründer, Dipl.-Psych. ✉︎
Alexandra Raquet ✉︎
Prof. Dr. Georg W. Alpers ✉︎

Training program in self-defense: The “Aktiv-Seminar Selbstverteidigung für Frauen Grundkurs” (basic course in self-defense for women) is offered by the university. The association Förderverein Sicherheit in Mannheim e. V. (SiMA) also offers courses in self-defense.

The conference of equal opportunities commissioners at universities and academic institutions LaKoG has launched the campaign „Zieh einen Schlussstrich“ (“Draw a line”) against sexualized discrimination and violence at universities in Baden-Württemberg.

In her presentation, Tanja Kramper, managing director of the local crime prevention association Kommunale Kriminalprävention Rhein-Neckar e.V., informs you about the most important facts about violence in the region and provide tips on dealing with dangerous situations.

The Ministery of Science, Research and Arts of Baden-Württemberg (MWK) has ordered Michaela Spandau from Stuttgart as a lawyer in charge of sexual discrimination, sexual harassment and violence for the facilities in the MWK business unit.


Definitions

The University of Mannheim wants all members of the university to treat each other with respect and appreciation. Therefore, the Code of Conduct of the University of Mannheim governs interaction and cooperation at the university.

  • Sexual harassment

    The Code of Conduct of the University of Mannheim defines sexual harassment as follows:

    “Sexual harassment is any conduct of a sexual nature that is unwelcome by the victim and that has the purpose or effect of violating the victim's dignity. This includes for example:

    aa) comments of sexual content, in particular offensive remarks, comments or jokes about a person, their body, behavior or private life,
    bb) unwelcome display or visible installation of pornographic pictures, regardless of their form (e.g. calendar, screen saver, poster),
    cc) gestures or non-verbal comments of a sexual nature,
    dd) unwelcome sexual requests and/or coercion to sexual acts,
    ee) unwelcome physical contact of a sexual nature,
    ff) sexual discrimination, harassment, and violence, in particular by a person of authority taking advantage of a subordinate at the place of work or study.”

  • Cyber violence

    Various terms are used to describe different harmful forms of harassment, bullying, defamation, coercion and slander of people in digital ways over the Internet and via smartphones. The assumption of another person's identity in order to act on their behalf represents a further danger.

  • Cyberbullying

    Over a longer period of time, individuals or a group of offenders use cell phone or Internet applications to deliberately harm a victim.

    There is an asymmetrical balance of power involved as the victim can hardly defend him- or herself against the actions of others. Cyberbullying is independent of time and place and can take place 24 hours a day using smartphones. Unlike classic bullying, cyberbullying takes place with a very high level of publicity. Cyberbullying can occur in various forms.

     

  • Cyberstalking

    Victims are harassed through undue, threatening, or insulting digital contact or even defamation in chats, blogs, and social networks. The monitoring of the victim's Internet activities, tracking of smartphones, and identity abuse also show parallels to classic stalking.

  • Cybergrooming

    Victims in the age group between 10 and 15 years are being contacted by adults online on Instagram, TikTok and the like. This way, a basis of trust is established under false pretenses and emotional dependency is purposefully created in order to tempt young people who are not yet media literate to sexualized actions on the Internet. This can be followed by blackmailing and possibly even physical abuse.


Contacts

In order to be able to react correctly in emergencies, it is important to keep the relevant steps in mind. For protection in the event of an acute threat, call the police at 110. They also offer clear and concise information for victims on various topics and inform you about the most important emergency measures.

  • Immediate help in acute threatening situations

    • The Gewaltambulanz Heidelberg
      for injury documentation and securing evidence after violence is available around the clock via telephone at 0152-54 64 83 93.
    • The Violence against Women support hotline is available at 08000 116 016 or online.
    • Weisser Ring offers online services and a support hotline for victims at 116 006.
    • Support hotline for victims of sexual abuse for both adults and adolescents at 0800 22 55 530.
    • Important emergency contacts compiled by the German Prevention Congress (Deutscher Präventionstag, DPT)
    • Frauen- und Mädchennotruf Mannheim
      (emergency hotline for women and girls); telephone: 0621 - 10033 or team(at)maedchennotruf.de
    • Luisa is an offer of help for women in the party scene of Heidelberg, Mannheim, and Ludwigshafen, who can turn to the staff with the question Ist Luisa hier? (“Is Luisa here?”) to get immediate and discreet assistance in unpleasant situations.
  • Assistance in case of domestic violence

    • Assistance in cases of domestic violence provided by the City of Mannheim
    • The Stronger than Violence initiative (Stärker als Gewalt - häusliche Gewalt erkennen) provides information, advice, and information on the legal backgrounds.
    • Fraueninformationszentrum (FIZ) Mannheim (women's counseling center)
      Protection, help, and counseling for women and their children who have experienced domestic violence; telephone: 0621-37 97 90, e-mail: fraueninformationszentrum@t-online.de
    • Mannheimer Frauenhaus (women's shelter of Mannheim e.V.)
      Protection, help, and counseling for women and their children who have experienced domestic violence; telephone: 0621-74 42 42, e-mail: fachbereich-frauen@frauenhaus-fiz.de
    • Frauen- und Kinderschutzhaus Heckertstift Mannheim
      Protection and shelter for women and their children who have experienced sexual, physical or psychological violence; telephone: 0621-411068 or via the free support hotline 0800 1008121; e-mail: heckertstift@caritas-mannheim.de
  • Trauma counseling

    • BEKO Rhein-Neckar
      Expert advice for people affected by a highly stressful event. Such stressful events include, for example, burglary, fraud, violence, accidents, suicide of a close person or other misfortunate incidents. The information and counseling service is free of charge and ideologically neutral. Upon request, advice is offered anonymously.
    • Psychological Counseling Center Frauen und Mädchennotruf
      In addition to providing help in acute cases, the psychological counseling center provides counseling for sexually abused women and girls, supportive caregivers and professionals. It offers counseling and trauma therapy, legal information, parent talks, etc. at 0621 10033 or via email team(at)maedchennotruf.de
    • Trauma- und Opferberatung Seehaus e. V. Sinsheim
      Appointments can be arranged free of charge at the trauma and victim counseling center of Seehaus e. V. Sinsheim: claumann@seehaus-ev.de or jloewen@seehaus-ev.de or via telephone: 07261-94 35 521.
  • Counseling for children and teenagers

    • Nummer gegen Kummer service for children and adolescents: 116 111
    • Psychological Counseling Center Frauen und Mädchennotruf
      In addition to providing help in acute cases, the psychological counseling center provides counseling for sexually abused women and girls, supportive caregivers and professionals. It offers counseling and trauma therapy, legal information, parent talks, etc. at 0621 10033 or via email team(at)maedchennotruf.de
    • LuCa Heidelberg e. V.
      Gender-sensitive work with children and young people on the prevention of violence, eating disorders, youth employment assistance, etc. 
    • Childhood-Haus Heidelberg
      Point of contact for children and young people who have suffered physical or sexual violence; telephone: 06221 56 -32430, e-mail: Childhood-Haus(at)med.uni-heidelberg.de
    • Juuuport platform of the State Media Authority of Lower Saxony (Niedersächsische Landesmedienanstalt, NLM)
      Trained, voluntary scouts between 14 and 18 years advise young people who have had bad experiences on the Internet.
  • Consulting for individuals disposed to commit crime

    • Jedermann e. V. Mannheim
      Counseling for perpetrators, offenders, and individuals disposed to commit a crime. Contact via mobile phone and WhatsApp: 0179-4883083, 0179-308238; e-mail: info@jeder-mann.de
    • The Behandlungsinitiative Opferschutz (BIOS-BW)
      initiative offers therapeutic assistance by telephone for people who fear that they might commit a crime. Especially people who have sexual fantasies about children or people who have a tendency to commit violent crimes can use this free of charge and anonymous service by calling the nationwide free hotline: 0800 70 222 40
  • Further counseling services with different, specific focuses

    • PLUS. Psychologische Lesben- und Schwulenberatung Rhein-Neckar
      Psychological counseling center for LGBTTIQ people and their relatives, also on the subject of violence and the prevention of violence; telephone: 0621-33 62 110, e-mail: team(at)plus-mannheim.de
    • pro familia Mannheim
      Advice on pregnancy, contraception, sexuality, partnership and family, special counseling services for young people; telephone: 0621-27720 
    • AIDS-Hilfe Heidelberg e.V.
      Counseling and information on HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. For anonymous advice by phone please call 06221-19 4 11; otherwise, please contact us via e-mail: info(at)aidshilfe-heidelberg.de
    • Counseling centers of the local police authority on various topics regarding victim protection and crime prevention.

Initiatives


Studies

Locations such as deserted parking garages, poorly lit streets or parks may well become places of assault and rape. However, people from the social proximity (e.g. relatives, partners, friends, colleagues, etc.) pose a greater threat to women: according to the Gewalt gegen Frauen (Violence against women) study conducted in 2004 by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (Bundesministeriums für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend), every fourth woman experiences violence in her relationship, i.e. by her partner.

Violence against women in figures:

Some large studies provide scientific evidence with similar results:

  • European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA)

    In 2014, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) conducted a Europe-wide study on experiences of physical, sexual, and psychological violence against women.

    In general, it can be seen that violence against women is widespread in the EU and that Germany ranks in the medium to high range in comparison with other countries. 24% of the women surveyed in Germany stated that they had suffered stalking since the age of 15. 60% of the participants in the survey have experienced at least one form of sexual harassment.

  • Studies of the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth

    Two representative studies by theFederal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (Bundesministeriums für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend, BMFSFJ) provide a general insight into the issue of violence against women in Germany (2004) and specifically the life situation and stresses and strains of women with impairments and disabilities in Germany (2011).

    Selected results from the 2004 survey:

    • 42% of women have experienced psychological violence
    • 40% have experienced physical and/or sexualized violence since the age of 16
    • every fourth woman experiences domestic violence in her relationship, i.e. by her (former) partner
    • 13% of women have experienced some form of sexualized violence prosecutable by law since the age of 16
  • Quantitative and qualitative study in the higher education context

  • Study of the Lesbian Counselling Centre Berlin and LesMigraS

    In 2013, the Lesbian Counselling Centre Berlin and LesMigraS conducted a quantitative and qualitative study on violence against lesbian and bisexual women as well as transgender or transsexual people in Germany, who are particularly likely to be affected by discrimination (only available in German). The results are supported by an analysis of the Federal Antidiscrimination Agency (Antidiskriminierungsstelle)  on the experience of discrimination in Germany based on sexual identity (2017) that used both quantitative and qualitative data.

    Trans people are particularly often affected by sexual discrimination and violence.

  • Dealing with sexual harassment at the workplace

    The study Umgang mit sexueller Belästigung am Arbeitsplatz (Dealing with sexual harassment at the workplace) shows that over an individual’s entire working life, approximately one in four to five women and one in twelve to fourteen men experiences sexual harassment in the workplace context.

  • Domestic violence during the restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic in spring 2020

    A first major German study on the period of the lockdown conducted by the Technical University of Munich and published in early June 2020 shows:

    • 3.1% of the women surveyed experienced physical violence;
    • 3.6% suffered sexual violence;
    • 3.8% experienced psychological violence, of which 2.2% were not allowed to leave the house without permission and in the case of 4.6% the partner controlled contacts with other people - including digital forms of contact.
  • Plan International survey on digital violence

    In the State of the World's Girls Report 2020 concerning online harassment from Plan International, 14,000 young women and girls from 22 countries were surveyed:

    •  58% experienced threats, insults and discrimination on social media worldwide
    • 70% of the German respondents said they had experienced such harassment on social media
    • 50% of girls stated they were more likely to be harassed on social media than on the streets
    • Worldwide leading platforms in terms of harassment are Facebook (39%) and Instagram (23%)
  • Cyberbullying and cybergrooming

    Two studies among young people on unreported cases of cyberbullying and cybergrooming conducted in 2011 by the Institute for Interdisciplinary Research on Conflict and Violence (Institut für interdisziplinäre Konflikt- und Gewaltforschung, IKG) Bielefeld on the one hand and as part of the Forsa survey “Cybermobbing - Gewalt unter Jugendlichen“ (Cyberbullying - Violence among Young People) on the other hand revealed different prevalence rates of victim and witness statements. This can be attributed to the fact that the Forsa survey examined the lifetime prevalence of cyberbullying, whereas the IKG study determined a three-month prevalence.

    • IKG study (survey using open-access online questionnaires for the period from February to July 2011 among pupils aged 11 to 24 years):
      • 14.1% of the schoolchildren stated that they had been victims of at least one form of cyberbullying (harassing and defamatory behavior, cyberstalking, or sexual harassment) in the past three months. 15.1% of female pupils and 12.8% of male pupils claimed to have been victims.
      • 12.6% of the pupils surveyed were themselves offenders in at least one form of cyberbullying in the last three months. 13.2% of female pupils reported that they had committed cyberbullying themselves as did 11.9% of male pupils. However, on average, male cyberbullies are more likely to commit different acts of bullying.
    • Forsa survey (telephone survey among pupils aged 14 to 20 years):
      • 32% of the young people surveyed have been victims of cyberbullying.
      • 8 % stated that they had committed cyberbullying as offenders.
      • 78% of the pupils surveyed know a victim of cyberbullying.

Break the silence!

Still, many of those affected by violence do not (yet) use the opportunity to seek help or advice. However, together we can break the silence, address the issue of violence, and draw attention to available offers of assistance.

Please feel free to contact the professional advisors of the University of Mannheim to make a confidential appointment to discuss any concerns you may have in connection with sexual harassment.