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#RedMyLips: What you need to know

A listicle on what you need to know about wearing red lipstick to create awareness about sexual assault

ROUGE: Not only women can wear lipstick during April. Men can spread awareness too

ROUGE: Everyone can help spread awareness fot Red My Lips. Photo: Tebogo Tshwane

April is not only a mark of a new quarter it’s also  Red My Lips campaign month.

Red My Lips is an annual global awareness and action campaign that asks people to wear red lipstick as a show of solidarity with those who have been sexually assaulted.

The campaign aims to demystify the myths around sexual assault and sexual violence while combating the victim-blaming that occurs when someone has been assaulted, which ultimately leads to the silencing of sexual assault survivors.

The Wits Gender Equity office will be hosting a number of events to commemorate April 21 which is the official Red My Lips Day.

Wits Vuvuzela spoke to Charlene Beukes who is an Investigation and Advocacy Officer at the Wits Gender Equity Office and this is what she had to say about the main tenets of the campaign:

  • What is sexual assault?

Any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature.

  • Who can be sexually assaulted?

Sexual assault is not limited to a heterosexual female being assaulted by a heterosexual male. People in the LGBTI community as well as men can also be victims of sexual assault.

“At our office we prefer to use gender based harm, because it’s more inclusive. Anyone and everyone can be a survivor of sexual assault,” said Beaukes.

  • What is victim-blaming?

Victim-blaming is statements or questions about what a victim of sexual violence did or didn’t do, which places the responsibility of being assaulted or being unable to prevent the assault on the victim.

Victim-blaming takes responsibility away from the perpetrator by implying that their decisions were made for them by the person that they assaulted

  • How can people combat the myths around sexual assault?

People should acknowledge that everyone is an individual and what people choose to do with their bodies is their choice.

It is also important for people to acknowledge that they have a limited understanding of the types of sexual assault and peoples lived experiences are different and that their being different does not invalidate them.

It is also important to listen with the intent of acknowledging someone’s experience without trying to put yourself in their shoes

  • Why you need to know about consent?

The Red My Lips website states that consent is a clear and not a coerced “YES” from whoever you are having a sexual encounter with. And just because someone doesn’t say the word “no”, does not mean an encounter is consensual.

Each sexual interaction is a new encounter which means that consent needs to be obtained on a continuous basis.

Originally published on April 6, 2016, in Wits Vuvuzela here:  http://witsvuvuzela.com/2016/04/06/redmylips-what-you-need-to-know/

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