Rebecca Gerome

Rebecca Gerome (Colectivo Dignidad Humana - IANSA): Rebecca is French-American. Rebecca completed her undergraduate studies at Columbia University, where she majored in History and concentrated in Human Rights. She received her Master’s degree at Sciences Po in Paris in International Affairs, with a specialization in International Public Management and International Law. Before her fellowship she worked at Aide Médicale Internationale and also worked for an NGO in Quito, Ecuador on street children. After her fellowship, Rebecca wrote: “I have more confidence at public speaking especially. I used to dread it and now feel very comfortable speaking Spanish to large audiences. I can now work in this language, make phone calls, give presentations, network, email networking.”

Introducing the “Disarming Domestic Violence” campaign

04 Jun

“An adaptor. All I need is an adaptor.” It’s getting dark, my body is aching, I’m feeling weak from hunger and fatigue and I’m making a racket with my suitcase rattling behind me on the metal footbridge at Canary Wharf, in London. People are giving me looks. I’m just hoping a shop with adaptors will magically appear in front of me, or perhaps more likely, an internet café, but everything is closed already. I look at my cell phone and realize that it’s already 8:34 and I’m supposed to meet Meijinder, who I’m staying with, in a half an hour. I had planned to sit in a café and write my first blog post for the fellowship training that starts tomorrow morning. Except that my computer ran out of juice. And, because London is only two hours away from Paris, I forgot that the British always have to remind everyone that they’re an island, even with their own “special” power outlets.

This summer, I’m going to Cali, Colombia as an Advocacy Project Peace Fellow to work with Colectivo Dignidad Humana, a member of the Women’s Network of IANSA, an international network of about 1000 civil society organizations working to reduce gun violence. A couple hours before my little hustle trying to find an adaptor, I am discovering the warm, friendly and busy IANSA headquarters in London a day before training starts. I have the privilege of sitting down for a quick briefing with the IANSA director, Rebecca Peters, who just travelled to Colombia a few weeks ago, and the Advocacy Project director Iain Guest.

Because NGOs in Colombia have been fixed on the war and opposition to Uribe, Colombia’s president, guns are only just becoming worth discussing in their own right, explains Rebecca. Many people don’t realize that the main cause of death in Colombia is not the war, but the use of guns in crime, including domestic violence. Statistics on the number of guns in Colombia and registered gun users are very hard to find, especially because the government considers guns a “military issue” deserving secrecy. As for domestic violence, there isn’t much reliable data either. Most victims don’t report it, for various reasons: they’re afraid, they don’t trust the police, they don’t know who to talk to or they think it’s a normal part of life. The general attitude is to treat domestic violence as a “private matter”.

IANSA headquarters

IANSA headquarters in London

I’m one of nine AP fellows helping IANSA launch a new campaign called “Disarming Domestic Violence”. My job will be to collect information, stories and anecdotes, make video-interviews, take pictures and publish press releases on armed domestic violence in Colombia, which is currently not very well documented. This blog is a central part of my fellowship and one of the key ways in which I will help disseminate the story of Colectivo Dignidad Humana.

Why is it important to start a campaign on armed domestic violence specifically? In the home, guns not only increase the chances that a woman will die, but they are used to subjugate, intimidate, threaten and sexually abuse women. Guns also make it much harder for a third person to intervene and for a woman to escape. “A woman can run away from a fist or a knife, but not a gunshot”, explains Sarah Masters, IANSA’s Women Network coordinator.

It’s now Thursday night. I never managed to find an adaptor, but I was able to write this post on Meijinder’s computer this morning just before training started. After a very full day of training, I’m exhausted again, but very happy and excited to work with such a great team of people at IANSA and AP.

Posted By Rebecca Gerome

Posted Jun 4th, 2009


  • Sarah

    June 8, 2009


    Interesting post Rebecca…I can’t wait to see how this whole project pans out for you. I think social media is a great tool to use to spread messages but I don’t think that you have an easy task before you considering the setting and the subject….and that is a really cool challenge. My best advice, as someone who blogged for a long time, is to collect as much information as possible but find ways to dose out your information in small portions. It seems that blogs that update more frequently with medium sized posts tend to be the most successful and draw bigger audiences. As you begin your adventure in Columbia I think you’ll find yourself inspired by a huge variety of things and I think you’ll be able to effectively find ways to link them all back to your core subject/goal. (Just like you did in this post actually!)

    I’m excited to follow you during this project. It isn’t really like anything I have ever seen you do before but at the same time it compliments everything you have done very well.

  • Nancy Workman

    June 25, 2009


    This project sounds very intense. I have often been saddened to read in the newspaper about incidents in New York of women who’ve been killed by ex-husbands and ex-boyfriends despite separating from them and taking out orders of protection.

    In my recent experience on a jury in a murder case, one of the jury members, who works for a homeless advocacy organization, mentioned that what separates families in which lethal domestic violence happens from ordinary families is not the fact that fighting occurs or the content of the fights–because all families fight, and they all tend to fight about the same issues–but essentially two things: 1) the abuse of drugs/alcohol and 2) the presence of weapons.

    Good luck, and stay safe!

    On another note, I’m about to visit France for the 1st (!) time–on Bastille Day. Apparently I should expect to be kept awake by singing firemen. . .

  • Greg

    December 19, 2009


    It’s widely known that Latin men are extremely jealous and very hot-tempered. Anything could trigger their anger, and the outcome is far from certain. However i don’t feel that the actions of a few should warrant the punishment of all of the good people of Colombia. Their right to self defense should not be touched. Why not take this fight to some muslim countries which allow the murder of a woman by way of “honor killings”. Oh, i almost forgot, we’re trying to change public opnion about muslims by not reporting on violence committed by muslim men. Sorry!

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