In the "Positioned and visible" project, Peps Gutsche and Simone Wibbeke from the InPuT department are developing a protection concept for dealing with sexualized discrimination, harassment, violence and anti-feminist attacks.
Sexualized discrimination, harassment and violence also take place at universities. According to the UniSAFE study on gender-based violence in academia, which was conducted at 46 participating universities and research institutions in 15 European countries, almost one in three university members experience sexualized harassment in the university context. The fact that women in particular are affected by sexualized discrimination, harassment and violence (SDBG) is reinforced at ASH Berlin by the fact that women*, trans*, inter and non-binary people make up the majority of all member groups, especially among students.
As many ASH academics also deal with questions of gender relations and discrimination mechanisms in their research, they are repeatedly confronted with anti-feminist attacks. A well-known example of this was the debate surrounding the sexist and patriarchal nature of the poem "avenidas", which was displayed on the south façade of ASH Berlin from 2011 to 2018. In the context of the so-called "façade debate", both ASH Berlin as a whole and individual academics were repeatedly the focus of anti-feminist hostility. In parallel with the increasing liberalization of gender policies and criticism of discrimination, racism and sexism, anti-feminist mobilizations are also becoming more prevalent in society as a whole.
Despite regular cases of SDBG and increasing anti-feminist attacks, most universities in Germany, including ASH Berlin, do not yet have structured procedures and support processes for those affected. However, anti-feminist attacks and, in particular, experiences of sexualized discrimination, harassment and violence have long-term consequences. Women*, trans*, inter and non-binary people are disproportionately affected. This leads to psychological stress if there is a lack of support from the environment and the organization. Feelings of fear and insecurity on campus can in turn lead to certain places being avoided. Those affected may experience a drop in performance or even drop out of their studies, leave the academic system or change employers.
Orientation towards proven methods from the development of protection concepts for children and young people
In order to counteract SBDG and anti-feminism at ASH Berlin and support those affected, Peps Gutsche and Simone Wibbeke from the InPuT department developed the project "Positioned and visible - ASH Berlin's protection concept for dealing with sexualized harassment, discrimination and violence and anti-feminist attacks", which is being funded by the Berlin Equal Opportunities Programme for a total of four years.
"We have adopted the term protection concept from the field of child and youth welfare, which is intended for institutions and organizations that work with children and young people, such as daycare centers, schools or sports clubs. In educational organizations, protection concepts should protect children and young people from sexual abuse, but also define clear structures and procedures for the prevention, intervention and processing of cases of sexual abuse," explains Peps Gutsche. "And beyond the terminology, we have also used well-known and proven methods from the development of protection concepts for children and young people," says Simone Wibbeke. "We will therefore first carry out a risk analysis with regard to SBDG and anti-feminist attacks for ASH Berlin. These analyses are a first step and an elementary component of protection concepts."
In the risk analysis for ASH Berlin, potential risks are to be examined as part of a participatory (research) process. Both (social) spatial factors - such as routes and premises at the university locations - as well as social and digital aspects of interaction and communication between and by university members are examined for their risk potential. This is followed by a risk assessment, from which the need for action is derived and prioritized. In the next step, the protection concept is developed in a cooperative and participatory process, which includes measures and operationalization steps in the event of incidents, as well as naming contact persons and processes. Finally, the measures and structures of the developed protection concept are implemented. The entire process of developing and implementing the protection concept is supported and flanked by accompanying training and workshops for all members of the university. The training courses are intended in particular to raise awareness of the topic and help to make it discussable in the university context.
Peps Gutsche and Simone Wibbeke provided information about the project at the university's public kick-off event on April 19, 2023 and engaged in an initial exchange with participants on how to deal with SBDG and anti-feminist attacks at the university. The basis for the development of the protection concept will be that all members of the university can participate in the process and that the various groups at ASH Berlin are represented in the development. There will be repeated opportunities and formats for this, such as the kick-off event, in training courses and workshops or in working groups yet to be formed.
Peps Gutsche and Simone Wibbeke will regularly issue invitations via the various ASH Berlin information channels and are also happy to receive suggestions, ideas and questions as well as interest in participating at schutzkonzept@ ash-berlin.eu.
Further information can be found at: www.ash-berlin.eu/studium/beratung-unterstuetzung/schutzkonzept
Simone Wibbeke is Deputy Women's* and Gender Equality Officer and Gender Equality Officer. Peps Gutsche is a consultant for anti-discrimination and the protection concept at ASH Berlin