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‘Hey, over here!’

I have been curious - what state of mind does an attacker get in, which leads him to do sexual violence against a woman on the street? How might we reach this guy and change his mind at that moment?

Photo of Cansu Akarsu
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The idea is quite experimental and it may lead to several different solutions applied in low-income urban areas. In order to start, let’s focus on a specific setting: a bus. And let’s put our ourselves in the shoes of a potential attacker.

Sam is a married man with two kids. After a long day of work at the food market in the city center, he is on his way back home, where his family lives together with his mother in a suburban slum. He is thinking about his boss who is delaying to give his weekly allowance.

The bus ride is long and boring. Oh and look at that, this woman is next to Sam. Does she want some attention - hm, nice boobs! Look at those moves, simply ignoring Sam! She would never be with a guy like Sam, or would she?

Meanwhile Sam is distracted by an interesting question he reads on the bus: ‘Who is your childhood hero?’ He starts thinking of an answer, an idea follows the other while the long bus ride continues. This was Sam’s attention is directed to a different thing than the woman.

The distraction questions can be developed with experts' input, also to steer the potential attacker to a more positive series of thoughts about women, such as "What as the wisest thing your grandmother said to you?"

Explain your idea in one sentence.

‘Hey, over here!’ aims to reach an attacker before a violent attempt and redirect his attention to another place.

What is the need you are trying to solve?

Prevention of violence against women and girls in urban low-income settings aims to have a long-term impact to create behavioral change in men. The need is to fully understand the potential attackers and distract them.

Who will benefit from this idea and how would you monitor its success?

The benefit will be on the attackers to change their minds, and eventually on the potential victim women and girls. The idea(s) can be applied in a pilot location, and the impact can be monitored through individual women's feedback and through a decrease of sexual assault in this particular location.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Bettina Fliegel

Hi Cansu.
Interesting conversation here generated by your idea! To go in a different direction with the same final question - how might we reach this guy and change his mind at that moment? - have there been any public health campaigns on buses in India that bring awareness around STDs, particularly HIV, and the possibility of getting it in an attack? I like the way you are focusing on positive distractions/ images - so in this case rather than go with a direct approach - "You can get HIV if.." - perhaps an approach which enables a person to care for him/herself - "Safeguard your health. Practice safe sex. You cannot tell by looking who is infected with HIV. Unprotected sex with a stranger can kill." (use some visuals of all types of women - the wider the range of appeal the better) A message to that effect, but shorter, with more punch. Maybe if this image is plastered on the buses, if need be in multiple languages, the guy will have second thoughts before he attacks.

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