Fairfield University recently started an initiative called “My Red Lips” to participate in the United Nations “16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence” to show support for the women and girls who have survived violence. 

From Nov. 25, the “International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women” until Dec. 10, “Human Rights Day”, the Fairfield University Community can participate by posting a photo of them in red lipstick. 

The photo must be in black and white, with only the red lips remaining in color and participants must be holding an affirmation in support of survivors. 

This campaign is initiated by Salaha Kabir and Geanella Suarez, the two campus advocates provided by the Center for Family Justice.

They state that the idea for the campaign came about from a desire to engage students and not just emphasize the importance of having conversations around sexual violence, but see their campus advocates not just as a system of support, but those who “call for inspiration, alliance and empowerment.”

“‘My Red Lips’ came from the desire to highlight empowering voices to create a shared narrative and space for healing.” Kabir and Suarez responded in a statement to The Mirror, “The campaign provides participants a space to be creative, reflective, join as allies to act, and be a voice for hope.”

They also stated that “My Red Lips” was inspired by the International Organization “Red My Lips” that was designed to “raise visibility and awareness about the realities and prevalence of sexual violence, while combating rape myths and victim-blaming.”

The group runs annual global awareness and action campaigns where supporters wear red lipstick all throughout the month of April, which is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. 

Since their event happens in April, and Kabir and Suarez wanted to participate in the U.N. Women’s “16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence” they used the initiative of both “Red My Lips” and “16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence” to create their own campaign, with the hope that students will participate. 

“Violence doesn’t discriminate.” They add, stating the importance of having this campaign on campus, “It affects everyone. College students face violence too. It can be in the form of a professor, supervisor, peer, colleagues, or a partner.” 

They state that sexual violence on campus is prevalent and that statistics show that women ages 18-24 are at a high risk of sexual violence and incidents often go unreported. 

When Kabir and Suarez would hold tabling events, they discovered that many students weren’t aware they had campus advocates and didn’t know sexual violence services were available to them. 

“Sometimes students have less awareness of campus resources, less confidence in knowing where to seek assistance, and less of a sense of community when it came to sexual violence.” Kabir and Suarez add, continuing, “It’s important for students and the whole campus community to be part of the conversation and act in the prevention and education efforts, so they are informed but can also inform others about resources when they don’t know where to start.” 

They continue that students need to be the ones to “begin the conversation and create spaces for open communication to raise awareness about sexual violence on campus.” 

Students should encourage their fellow students to speak out and “Students showing support means emphasizing the importance of starting a healthy on-campus dialogue between students and faculty to ensure that we are all part of a healthy campus culture.”

They add that all photo submissions can be emailed to skabir@centerforfmailyjustice.org or gsuarez@centerforfamilyjustice.org and/or DM on Instagram to the account @cfjcampusadvocacy. 

They even say that they can edit your red lip photo to the black and white specifications if you just send them your photo. 

Kabir and Suarez also add that if students want to get more involved after sharing their photos, they encourage them to become a “red lips advocate” by encouraging other members of the community to participate in the “My Red Lip” campaign. 

“Students can bring the campaign initiative back to their clubs, meetings, classes,

gatherings, and events to be part of the ripple effect as they encourage and motivate friends and peers to take a stand.” They add, “It’s all about taking part in starting and continuing the conversations around sexual assault on campus.”

They state again that student involvement is important to the campaign as “We want students to collaborate with us and welcome us into their safe spaces, so we can start

safe and important conversations around sexual violence.”

If students are wondering what resources the campus advocates provide, they offer free and confidential services for short-term counseling, safety planning, medical/hospital accompaniment, and support, referrals/resources, and support with Title IX hearings/law

enforcement and court proceedings. 

They are available during Mondays and Thursdays from 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. in the Health and Wellness Center in Jogues Hall or they can be reached by email at skabir@centerforfamilyjustice.org, gsuarez@centerforfamilyjustice.org or you can directly message their Instagram account. 

They add that if the hours listed above do not work, they can work around any schedule by using calendly and/or Instagram DM.  

“Advocates are here for you and stand with you. We believe you and support you.” Kabir and Suarez add, continuing, “We work with you to make sure you’re receiving the support you need, so use us as a resource when you need support or even if you just have questions or want to collaborate.”

Finally, they add that as campus advocates, they understand that there are many factors discouraging college victims from coming forward.

“Having to relive the event is difficult, being in a space where you’re dividing yourself between believers and non-believers is traumatizing, and staring at a culture that blames victims is disheartening.”

But, they add, “Just know that you are not alone! Campus advocates are here to support you. We believe you, so don’t hesitate to reach out and speak out.”

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