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Tonne of Support for Shetland Rape Crisis & Smalls For All

Shetland Rape Crisis, with the support of Aith Charity Shop, the Why Waste? Shop in Lerwick, Dunrossness School, and Unst Leisure Centre and School, has received donations of over 1000 bras and almost 300 pairs of pants to give to the Scottish Charity, Smalls For All, this January.

During the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence late last year, Shetland Rape Crisis launched a collection campaign under the theme #Generation Equality. This brought in donations from all over the Isles to be sent to Smalls For All, who collect and distribute underwear to help women and children in Africa and the UK.

Peterson UK Ltd has also offered to ship the bras free of charge to the Aberdeen, and Northern Isles Freightway will deliver from Aberdeen to Smalls For All on the Mainland.

Ana Arnett, Advocacy & Support Worker at Shetland Rape Crisis, said: “The response we’ve had from folk all over Shetland, from Unst right down to the south end, has been absolutely incredible and we’d like to say a huge thank you to all who donated, the shops that gathered the donations, Petersons UK Ltd and Northern Isles Freightway for their generous shipping work, and to everyone who shared and promoted the campaign.”

Bravalanche! Lavinia Schmidt, Prevention & Activism Worker counts the donations.

Bravalanche! Lavinia Schmidt, Prevention & Activism Worker, counts the donations.

For women and girls living in poverty, or who have been displaced and have to live in camps, or who are in hospital suffering from medical conditions like obstretic fistula, underwear is quite often a luxury that isn’t easily available.

The donations will make a direct difference in the lives of these women and girls, enabling girls to access education from which they may have been otherwise excluded due to clothing restrictions, and women to have clean and hygienic underwear supporting them to heal in hospital.

The donations, alongside Shetland Rape Crisis’ call for gender equality and an end to gender-based violence, may evoke in the minds of some readers images of “bra-burning feminists” - a myth the team is keen to dispel.

Lisa Ward, Service Manager at Shetland Rape Crisis, said: “The research clearly demonstrates that, although anyone can experience or perpetrate sexual violence, an unequal distribution of power between groups significantly increases the risk of perpetration by the dominant group against the group with less power, and this is no less true in Shetland.

“We support people of all genders, but our stats continue to show that gender inequality is a major ongoing concern in our community, greatly increasing the risk of sexual violence against women and girls, as well increasing risks for other groups who hold less social power such those in poverty, people with learning disabilities, and children.”

“Campaigns such as this one are an important part of raising awareness of these facts, as well as making an immediate material difference in the lives of women and girls experiencing extreme marginalisation.”

The myth of bra-burning as a feminist ritual began with a single protest at a Miss America contest in 1968. While some bras were set on fire at the protest, it only happened briefly, and the bras were included amongst a large number of symbolic items such as magazines and detergent, aimed at protesting the treatment of women in the society of the time.

According to author W. Joseph Campbell in Ten of the Greatest Misreported Stories in American Journalism, “Invoking bra burning was a convenient means of brushing aside the issues and challenges raised by women’s liberation and discrediting the fledgling movement as shallow and without serious grievance.”

Lisa added: “Gender inequality and other significant social inequalities are no shallow issue and we are not immune to their effects. Shetland Rape Crisis works every day helping people in our community deal with the very worst consequences of these societal structures and beliefs. We believe in a future free from this kind of violence, and these donations give us hope that Shetlanders believe in the same and will join us in working towards this future.”

Lavinia Schmidt, Prevention & Activism Worker at Shetland Rape Crisis, elaborated: “While many myths around feminism, rape and sexual violence are still prevalent in our communities, lots of people, especially young people, are pursuing what they think is right.

“Whether this is fighting for gender equality, LGBTQIA rights or enabling measures counteracting climate change, there is energy and a desire for change in this movement. It is great to see this, and we hope that this spark can be kept alight and ignited further during this year of #GenerationEquality.”

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Sexual violence is any form of sexual contact that you don’t freely agree to. This includes everything from sexual harassment (either in person or digital), unwanted touching and sexual comments, sexual assault, rape, and the sharing of intimate images against your will.

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