Every year in April, Peace Corps Vanuatu joins the other Peace Corps countries around the world including the United States to raise awareness on the topic of Sexual Assault.

The goal of Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) is for individuals and organisations to raise public awareness about sexual harassment, assault, and abuse and educate communities on how to prevent them.

April 2023 marks the official 22nd Anniversary of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

The theme of Sexual Assault Awareness Month 2023 is “Drawing Connections: Prevention Demands Equity”.

The theme is based upon understanding the premise we can trace a line from sexual violence to systems of oppression, and we can’t end sexual violence without also ending racism. Drawing Connections: Prevention Demands Equity calls on all individuals, communities, organizations, and institutions to change ourselves and the systems surrounding us to build racial equity and respect.

Systems of oppression such as racism, sexism, classism, heterosexism, ageism, ableism, and others contribute to higher rates of sexual harassment, assault, and abuse. So often, we are unaware of how historical conditions have shaped our lives and how we move throughout the world, specifically, forms of privilege with the many identities we each hold. As such, we recognize that it will take ending all forms of oppression to end sexual violence worldwide.

Discussions about racial issues, racism, equity, and inclusion are often avoided due to feeling uncomfortable and risks. Being uncomfortable is okay – but to address the social exclusion, unequal access to resources, disproportionate exposure to harm, and unjust prejudice that people of color face, we must show up with courage and humility. We can help create change if we take the time to hear, understand, and recognize one another.

Drawing connections between ourselves, history, and the world around us is necessary for changing the future.

Sexual violence is an umbrella term that includes any type of unwanted sexual contact — including sexual assault, harassment, and abuse.

Forms of sexual violence include:

• Rape or sexual assault

• Sexual harassment

• Sexual abuse

• Unwanted sexual contact/touching

• Sexual exploitation and trafficking,

• Exposing one’s genitals or naked body to others without consent,

• Nonconsensual image sharing

• Words and actions of a sexual nature against a person’s will and without their consent

This April, Peace Corps Vanuatu will be engaging in different community awareness throughout this April to target communities on Efate.

Learn how to draw connections between various forms of oppression and the underlying causes of sexual assault. In addition, explore how certain groups of people are at higher risk for sexual violence and how those same people are also the most impacted by inequitable systems and oppression in our society. We’re asking you to join us in building equity and respect within our communities, workplaces, and the future our youth hold – as it is crucial to making real, large-scale, and lasting change.

For in person assistance or information, please contact: Vanuatu Women’s Centre, contact number 25764, Help Line number is 161 or walk into the Vanuatu Police station to the Family Protection Unit.