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Take Back the Night Week to raise awareness about sexism, sexual violence

Ohio University's 32nd celebration of Take Back the Night Week begins April 18 and will help students address topics such as sexism, sexual violence and assisting survivors of sexual violence.

The week will also feature Aishah Shahidah Simmons, an award-winning African-American, feminist, lesbian, independent documentary filmmaker based in Philadelphia. Simmons is also a television and radio producer, published writer and international lecturer and activist.

As an incest and rape survivor, Simmons spent seven years producing, writing and directing "NO! The Rape Documentary." This groundbreaking documentary explores the international reality of rape and other forms of sexual assault through the first person testimonies, scholarship, spirituality, activism, and cultural work of African Americans. The documentary also explores how rape is used as a weapon of homophobia.

Simmons will first talk to women at the Women's Center's weekly Brown Bag Lunch on Wednesday.

"It's a more intimate setting and we might have conversations that may or may not come up during the screening later," said Lindsey Daniels, the Women's Center survivor advocacy program coordinator. "The efforts to inform and empower women haven't been across the board. This documentary addresses how women confront men and the constant struggles they encounter." 

A public screening of her movie will be shown later on Wednesday, followed by a discussion.

"Being able to hear from a sexual violence survivor, a bystander or a friend, it connects us. We can hear the statistics and hear the information in class, but putting a face to the story makes it a more significant," Daniels said. "This is a public health and societal issue. We all need to work together to stop it from happening. This perspective allows voices to be heard that traditionally aren't."

On Tuesday, April 28, the Women's Center will host a photo shoot to end Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

"It's a poster campaign where women will pose with a timepiece and will encourage themes such as, "It's time to… stop violence against women… voice your opinions' and so on and so forth," Daniels said. "We're going to continue this effort through the fests in May to encourage people to engage in bystander intervention."

These are some of the upcoming events:

Monday, April 18

•    The Take Back the Night Week kick-off event will be at 7 p.m. in the Baker University Center Front Room. It will feature performances from Allison Woods and Kaitrin McCoy. The event also will include making posters for Thursday's march and rally.

Tuesday, April 19

•    The Women's Center will host a self-defense workshop for women with Cheryl Cesta at 7 p.m. in the Women's Center. The men's self-defense workshop will be held at 8:30 p.m. in Baker 239. The event is free and open to the public.

•    A survivor name burning ceremony will be held at 9 p.m. on the lawn at Howard Park near Voigt Hall and Hudson Health Center. Survivors of sexual violence will be encouraged to burn the names of their attacker or abuser in an effort to empower them.

Wednesday, April 20

•    The Women's Center, located in Baker University Center Room 403, is the site of a Brown Bag Lunch with filmmaker Aishah Shahidah Simmons, who produced and directed 'No! The Rape Documentary." The event is free and open to the public.

•    The Women's Center will host a screening and discussion of, "No! The Rape Documentary" with filmmaker Aishah Shahidah Simmons at 6 p.m. in Baker University Center Theatre. The event is free and open to the public.

Thursday, April 21

•    The Women's Center will host a presentation about sexual empowerment and sexual insecurity in college aged women at noon in the Women's Center. The presentation is by Mallory Long, Kristina Rose and Arianna Illif.

•    The Take Back the Night Rally and March will start at 7:30 p.m. in the Scripps Hall Amphitheater. There will be speakers and performances by singing group, Title IX, followed by the march. 

Take Back the Night Week is coordinated by Student Senate's Women's Affairs Commission, the Women's Center, SAC, the Survivor Advocacy Program, PAGE, the Sexual Assault Prevention Club, and the Office of Off-Campus Living.

For more information, click here.