Categorized as: education

Divas In Defense in Kuwait

2017 was a great year for Divas In Defense®. We had so many wonderful opportunities but nothing compares to our trip to Kuwait. We were contacted by Balsam International to join their ‘Be Strong Campaign’ to end violence against women. We eagerly joined the call to serve and our Director of Training, Vanessa Parker, and our Girls Can Fight Too Program Director, Skye Walton, headed to Kuwait for a 14-day training tour.

Balsam Al-Ayoub created Be Strong a few years ago to empower women and girls in Kuwait. She founded Balsam International that provides empowerment courses and workshops throughout the area.  Balsam Al-Ayoub is an Olympic Fencing Champion, Fashion Designer, TV host and a woman on a mission to empower women and girls in the Middle East. Her ‘Be Strong Campaign’ for 2017 was sponsored by the United States Embassy in Kuwait, United Nations Women Campaign to End Violence Against Women, Kuwait Sports Club, Agility, Derby and Ali Abdulwahab Al-Mutawa. Our training took place during the UNiTE Campaign’s observance of the 16 Days of Activism to End Violence against Women (25 November – 10 December). 

While in Kuwait we facilitated classes for over 600 women from over 32 nationalities in just 14 days. During this training, we hosted Six 3-Day Certification Programs at the Kuwait Sports Club in Kaifan. We also facilitated classes at American Academy for Girls, Al-Bayan Bilingual School of Kuwait, American University of Kuwait and the Al-Sidra Center for breast cancer survivors. We also had the honor of facilitating a class at the Kuwait Women’s Police Academy. The women and girls of Kuwait left our classes feeling Fierce & Fabulous. We cannot thank Balsam, Nicky and her team enough for their hospitality and determination to end violence against women.

Here are just a few pictures from our trip. We hope to return again soon inshallah.

Welcome to Kuwait Balsam International-Divas In Defense

Our Welcome to Kuwait Cake. The desserts in Kuwait were amazing!

 

Prep before our first class Balsam International-Divas In Defense Kuwait

Getting ready for our first class

Skye Walton Balsam International Divas In Defense in Kuwait

Skye rocking her Be Strong/ UN Women Campaign to End Domestic Violence T-shirt

 

Al-Bayan Bilingual School Balsam International-Divas In Defense Kuwait

Al-Bayan Bilingual School

 

Skye training at the American Academy for Girls of Kuwait.

American University of Kuwait Balsam International-Divas In Defense

American University of Kuwait

Al-sidra Balsam International-Divas In Defense Kuwait (1)

Al-Sidra Breast Cancer Survivors

 

FM 99.7 Kuwait Radio

FM 99.7 Kuwait Radio. We interviewed on The Drive Back with Maha and Yousef. Great times and great music.

 

Womens Police Academy Kuwait Balsam International-Divas In Defense Kuwait

Kuwait Women’s Police Academy

 

Bazaar Magazine Event 2 Balsam International-Divas In Defense Kuwait (1)

Skye and I at the Bazaar Arabia Magazine honoring Balsam as one of the 10 Best Dressed Women of Kuwait. We are wearing dressed from Balsam’s clothing line.

 

Bazaar Magazine Event 3 Balsam International-Divas In Defense Kuwait

Balsam and her business partner looking fabulous.

Skye and Nicky at the Bazaar Magazine Best Dressed Kuwait Event

Last 3-Day Certificate Class at Kuwait Sports Club

 

Last class celebration Balsam International-Divas In Defense Kuwait

Skye celebrating our last day of training. We trained over 600 women from 32 nationalities in just 14 days.

Sightseeing in Kuwait City

 

Going away dinner from Balsam and her mother, Fatima Al Omani. Both of these women are amazing and an inspiration to all women.

Trick Or Treat, Safely!

As the leaves fall and the weather gets cool one of the most festive, crazy and creative holidays is quickly approaching. It is loved by the young and old, the at home- costume doers along with the over the top house decorators. If it isn’t for the bags full of candy or the mystery of “who is behind the mask” you cannot help but enjoy some part of Halloween.

This post will be packed of little Tricks and Treats to keep you and you family safe next weekend.  With every one running around getting that last eye ball to glue on  or finding the ‘just right shade of white face paint’ we at Divas In Defense do not want you to forget that safety is key to a successful evening.

Before you or a group of your Lil’ Ladybug or Fireman friends head out; make sure you have completed your check list:

  1. Have route already planned out.
  2. Make sure designated watchers are assigned.
  3. Costumes are properly fitted with reflector tape or some type of light that can be seen by drivers and walkers.
  4. You can even make your own waterproof informational tattoo. All you need is a sharpie and clear nail polish!

Costumes – Beware! Of people in mask or face covering costumes. They are not only cool to scare but they are an easy way to disguise a person real intention.

Candy – Check your kid’s candy and ‘When in doubt, Throw it out!!! For adults this rule applies as well, check those party favors and punch bowls.

Pets- You will want to keep your cats indoors especially the unofficial mascot of Halloween the Black Cat. Some may take this opportunity to really bring harm to your for legged friend.

Fierce & Fabulous Divas 21+ – With so many goblins and ghouls roaming the streets on All Hallows’ Eve, things can get a little scary. Here are some Uber tips so you have a safe night with treats and no tricks.

  1. Make sure driver ID, type of car and plate matches.
  2. Pre dial 911 – so you can hit send ASAP
  3. Call someone beforehand, while in the car and once you have reached your destination.
  4. Place a business care or matchbook in your purse to ensure you return to your correct hotel.

Halloween can be a fun time of year for both children and adults alike. Whether you plan to get decked out in an elaborate costume and attend a haunted bash, take the kids trick-or-treating, or stay home and hand out goodies to all the ghosts and goblins who appear on your doorstep, the usage of these little tricks and treats will ensure everyone has a safe and fun Halloween.

Back to School Safety & Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking (DMST)

As much as parents are COMPLETELY ecstatic of children returning to school, safety is a primary concern. Recently in Vinings, Georgia, a smart middle school girl thwarted an attempted abduction. The story reported by @11alive as follows:

11 Alive (http://www.11alive.com) reported “A Campbell Middle School girl was walking home Tuesday afternoon when she said a black SUV approached her. The white male driver allegedly tried to lure her into his vehicle.

“She became suspicious when he wasn’t able to answer her questions. Instead, she ran to a nearby home for help.”

Her quick, intuitive thinking helped her return home safely. In this case, her life was at stake!

Did you know:

In December 2013, the FBI expressed they had more than 7,000 pending investigations involving child exploitation, including sex trafficking of minors and child pornography.

According to FBI statistics, Atlanta ranks among the top 14 cities in the United States for domestic minor sex trafficking. And some 300 girls across Atlanta are lured into trafficking every month.

Facts show this was a possibility of Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking (DMST), especially here in the Atlanta area. I’ve had training from StreetGrace (www.streetgrace.org) whom I HIGHLY recommend for their diverse knowledge on the topic.

View the USDOJ’s Infographic on Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking of Minors in the U.S.

Learn more about Divas In Defense programs here. In addition, read about our On Her Own: Teen Self-Defense Workshop which covers preventive and informative material on bullying, social media net-iquette, cyber safety, identity theft, domestic minor sex trafficking (DMST), dating violence, sexual assault and harassment.

Here are a few tips to share with your children to be safe:

  • Bus riders are the safest children.
  • Develop a “safe” word for your children, as well as a “not safe” word.
  • Establish a “check-in” system for latch-key children.
  • Encourage your children to travel in groups.
  • Teach your children the importance of not texting while walking.
  • Practice awareness techniques with your children daily.
  • Register your children for self-defense classes.

Here is the National Human Trafficking Hotline Number: (888) 373-7888.

Women and Children Used for Target Practice

Shooting children and the elderly is a universal “NO! NO!” An American law enforcement supply company is letting police departments purchase unusual products for target practice.

For only 99 cents per sheet, Law Enforcement Targets Inc. lets customers order life-like posters that show that people of all walks of life could be potential threats to police officers. Among the targets available in their “No More Hesitation” series for shooting practice are enlarged photographs of a pregnant woman, children holding hands and a high-school aged girl.

In every image, the suspect is shown holding a gun, meant to force officers of the law to act without hesitation in even the most unusual life-or-death scenarios. In a statement, the marketing team at Law Enforcement Targets explained the thought process involved in selling realistic targets that let people open fire on young children and the elderly alike.

“The subjects in NMH targets were chosen in order to give officers the experience of dealing with deadly force shooting scenarios with subjects that are not the norm during training,”
the statement begins.

“I found while speaking with officers and trainers in the law enforcement community that there is a hesitation on the part of cops when deadly force is required on subjects with atypical age, frailty or condition.”

In my opinion, the targets may cause the officers to be desensitized to people of those specific walks of life. The last thing that this country needs is desensitization of those in authoritative positions.

911 Fails to Locate GPS Signal

On a clear afternoon, Shanell Anderson delivered newspapers in Cherokee, GA, a few miles from Fulton county. Shanell’s car ran off the road into a lake. Unfortunately, Shanell became trapped in her car, so she called 911 from her cell phone for help. She told the 911 dispatcher exactly where she was, including the lake name and the streets intersecting. With all of the information Shanell gave, the dispatcher was unable to locate her coordinates. It took the police 19 minutes to locate the pond and an additional 29 minutes to find Shantell’s car where she laid unconscious.

I’m sure you are wondering why the police were not able to locate Shanell quicker. 911 uses a computer aided dispatch called GIS (Geographic Information System). GIS stops at city lines, which is why the dispatcher was unable to locate Shanell. Even though Shanell was not in Alpharetta county, her cell phone signal was sent there. This disabled Alpharetta county’s map ability.

It is important to know that cell phones don’t transmit GPS signals to dispatchers, they have to extract the GPS signal from the cell phone. The Senate and Congress are progressively working to improve this defect. It is also import that we are always conscious of our location and close landmarks, so if this situation was to arise we will be able to provide the dispatcher with as much information as possible.

 

“It’s On Us” To Stop Sexual Assault

Lately, it seems like every time I turn on any news station, there is another college fraternity being suspended for allegations of some type of sexual assault. Recently the University of Virginia has suspended all fraternities and parties associated with the fraternities following a Rolling Stone Magazine article that describes one student’s account of being gang raped and her annoyance with her school to hold her attackers responsible. President Teresa A. Sullivan wrote in a statement to the university community. “Rape is an abhorrent crime that has no place in the world, let alone on the campuses and grounds of our nation’s colleges and universities.

How can we, the female society, willing fill out applications to our dream schools and most of the social clubs are on suspension or investigation for sexual assault. I wanted to know, what are college administrations and our governments doing to protect us on campus from sexual assaults?

Well here is the answer. The Obama Administration launched “It’s On Us” Public Awareness Campaign this year. This campaign has been formulated:

• To RECOGNIZE that non-consensual sex is sexual assault.
• To IDENTIFY situations in which sexual assault may occur.
• To INTERVENE in situations where consent has not or cannot be given.
• To CREATE an environment in which sexual assault is unacceptable and survivors are supported.

“It’s On Us” I believe is a pledge that all schools and colleges can implement to make a big difference on how the female student body.

When a victim can have the support of her school and that her allegations will not go unheard, that is already a strong unified campus that I would want to be apart of.

While on winter break sign your Young Diva for Divas In Defense “On Her Own” Workshop December 20th, 2014:

Take the “Its On Us” Pledge Here:
http://itsonus.org/#pledge_open

“UVA Suspends Fraternities after Report on Gang Rape Allegations.” CNN. Ralph Ellis, 23 Nov. 2014. Web. 23 Nov. 2014

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Street Harassment the Uncomfortable Walk

Before reading those stories, and posting, I accepted it as the norm to get harassed all the time.” (Hollaback participant, 2012) –

Now we all can admit that hearing “That I Notice You” whistle or look might actually brighten up your day, but what can you do if it progresses into an uncomfortable situation: whistle blowing, hisses and the stares. Many do not understand what is the ‘Big Deal”. Non-contact unwanted sexual experiences were the most common form of sexual violence experienced by both women and men.

Event though the assailant is not being physical public harassment is still pretty close to your Personal Safety Zone. The assailant might not even notice they are speaking the language of Sexual Terrorism. It could all be apart of their Social Anxiety Defense Mechanism stemming from low self-esteem.

Street Harassment on College Campuses
Recently the company behind the Hollaback! App collected 282 undergraduate, graduate and part-time college students and 44 college administrators on campuses from the urban, suburban and rural U.S. to find out how harassment exists in spaces of higher education.
• Students are being harassed on their college campuses (67% of students experienced harassment),
• Harassment is limiting student’s ability to benefit from education,
• Current campus systems and processes are insufficient.
• Over 99 percent of women report facing some form of street harassment.
• 95 percent of women report being the target of leering or excessive staring at least once.
• More than 37 percent of women have had a stranger masturbate at or in front of them at least once in public.
• Nearly 57 percent of women reported being touched or grabbed in a sexual way by a stranger in public.
• Over 77 percent of women said they were the targets of kissing noises from men.
• About 62 percent of women say a man has purposely blocked their path at least once.
• About 27 percent of women report being assaulted at least once in public by a stranger.

“But I found myself forcing myself to bring it up and to tell people about it and to, even like, people I wouldn’t normally tell this to, like my Dad… Hollaback cultured my feeling that this should be shared.”
The only way we can become a fighting voice for all of those who cannot.

Sources: http://www.ihollaback.org/
SOURCES: Stop Street Harassment, Feministe/Patrick McNeil, Center for American Progress

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Like many of our Divas and especially our Atlanta Divas; who attended our Kicks & Flicks for this movie, I could not stop hearing about ‘No Good Deed’ and its plot.
As I sat with my mom in the theatre the question – Can this really happen? Popped up scene after scene.
We’ve all done it: answered the door, when we know we are not expecting anyone. Thank goodness for most of us, it is usually your friend, neighbor or postman. But what if they are not
In the first 10 minutes I saw a billion steps the main character played by Taraji P. Henson did absolutely wrong:

Here is a brief list just incase you missed the signs:
Open door for someone she wasn’t expecting.
Continue conversation with stranger then informed stranger that she was home alone
Left door unattended.
Invited stranger into the home.
Alarm pad not in use!!

The Divas In Defense team has put together a few hints so we can all avoid being caught on the wrong side of home invasions.

Know Thy Neighbor
The reason behind this is three-fold. Firstly, if you know the people who live around you, then you can tell much more easily if someone there is out of place. Also, in the event of an emergency, it’s a good idea to have at least one of your neighbor’s phone numbers (if not more) to reach out for help.

Stay Secure
There are many levels of prevention. There are the simpler measures (get a dog, which make for great deterrents; make sure doors have peep holes, and use them; make sure all locks are functional and that any outside fences are in good condition) to the larger ones (get an alarm that actually alerts a security service; install security cameras–even ones that are visible to any possible perps) to the really big guns (panic room, anyone?). Which of these you should employ ultimately depends on your personal circumstances, but all (or nearly all) of them are worth investigating.

When Precautions Fail

There are further measures you can take in the event someone does breach your home.

Have a pre-meditated escape plan: Know how you will quickly and safely evacuate you and your family from the house. Make a Meet Up Place!

Learn self-defense: This is not only from a physical stand point from the self confidence you gain from becoming Empowered over your own body. Attackers play on a victim’s vulnerability.

Let them take your stuff: They’re only there for your girl’s jewelry and expensive electronics…let them have at it! All of that stuff—ALL of it—is replaceable. You and your loved ones are not.

Don’t let them take you: As bleak as it sounds, whatever may happen to you wherever they take you will be far worse than what happens in the house. Be it by negotiation or by force, do not let home invaders take you or your loved ones.

Was this movie extreme, ehhhh I say yes but it was done correctly. It gained attention of everyone. The roles played by all characters can easily be reverse. Man home alone with his kids then a stranger knocks…

Women Rule The World

This year has gone by crazy-fast.  Wasn’t it just yesterday that we welcomed the year 2014, yet it’s already halfway over?  Quite a few newsworthy events happened recently, putting the spotlight on women and female empowerment.  First, on May 23, our country was shocked by the actions of a young man, who will remain unnamed.  The gunman opened fire in the Delta Delta Delta sorority house at University of California, Santa Barbara killing two innocent women.  After writing a lengthy manifesto and posting misogynistic rants on his YouTube channel, he made it clear that the rejection he faced from women over the years angered him.  This man targeted women simply because they were women.

In light of the shooting there’s much controversy surrounding the winner of this year’s Miss U.S.A pageant.  Miss Nevada, Nia Sanchez, was asked why college campuses are so eager to dismiss reports of sexual assaults that occur under their watchful eye.  In response, Sanchez stated that women should learn to defend themselves. Reasonable response, right? Many people are attacking her response, however, because it is believed that we shouldn’t blame women for being assaulted, but rather make harsher laws for the perpetrators.  While both sides have excellent points, females of all ages should certainly take the initiative to protect themselves first.  There are lots of things women and girls can do to educate themselves on self-defense. While Nia Sanchez is a 4th degree Black Belt, simply learning the basics is a huge step in the right directions.Taking a self-defense class or purchasing a can of pepper spray is a great first step!  After all, women are very, very close to ruling the world.

Three Safety Tips to Defend a Home Invasion

There’s no place like home!

Time and time again we chant, “Lord, let me make it home safely.” What if the same dwelling you find solace in is compromised? What would you do? Yesterday, an intruder armed with a machine gun entered the home of Oscar-winning actress, Sandra Bullock. After spending over an hour in her home, she managed to stay safe. See more of the story from CNN here.

Here are a few preliminary steps you can take to ease the stress of an intrusion:

  • 1. Have an evacuation plan in place. Knowing what you are going to do before you have to actually do it, makes life simpler. If you and your family (housemates) practice what to do in case of an invasion, fire or natural disaster, it can minimize the stress of finding everyone should there be an emergency. Have a place INSIDE the home to meet or escape to if someone breaks in. In addition, a place OUTSIDE the home in case of fire or following a natural disaster assists with an adequate head count. Put in place and practice often.
  • 2. Put that OLD CELLPHONE to use! If you, like most of us, change out your cellphone every couple of years; it’s likely you have an “extra” around the house. If a cellphone has had service at least one day, it is permanently registered with 911 and is able to make calls to emergency operators. It is recommended for you to keep an old phone in the “panic room” for access. Having to worry about finding your phone may not be as easy if you are in fear.
  • 3. Arm yourself with a “household” weapon if you don’t own a gun, stun gun or pepper spray. You can order some non-lethal weapons such as stun guns, pepper sprays or door stoppers and alarms from Divas In Defense. Something as simple as a stick or aerosol spray can act as your last line of defense if need be. Keep a weapon in your panic room and be prepared to use it. Instruct your family or housemates on the location and proper use of the weapon as well.
  • As self-defense teaches, preparation and awareness is a majority of the battle. Visit Divas In Defense to register for self-defense training.

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