About the Author: Masami Tanaka is a Vice Consul for Economic Affairs at the U.S. Consulate General in Hong Kong.Editor's Note: In support of the "16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence" campaign that follows from the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, we're bringing you stories from embassies and consulates on how they took up the challenge of countering violence against women.
Consulate General Hong Kong commemorated the UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women with a lunchtime session on "Situational Awareness and Self-Defense for Women" on November 23. This session also kicked off our post's new Women's Initiative. In my role as post's Federal Women's Program Coordinator, I began the session by explaining that violence against women includes not only physical and sexual abuse, but also psychological and economic abuse, and that it cuts across age, race, culture, wealth, and geography. The audience -- American and locally-employed male and female Consulate staff -- was surprised to hear that up to 70 percent of women experience physical or sexual violence from men in their lifetime.
ConGen Hong Kong's Assistant Regional Officer Tim Dalton spoke to the audience about the reality of violence committed against women in the United States, Hong Kong, and in Asia. Using real-life examples, he told women how they could reduce their chances of becoming a target of crime. Dalton told women to trust their instincts and be aware of their surroundings, and he reminded the audience that, when traveling, they should not assume their destination is as safe as Hong Kong. Post's U.S. Marine detachment members helped out in demonstrating to the audience how to break free from an attacker. Marine Sergeant Heather “Nicki” Kaufmann demonstrated three basic, but useful, self-defense/escape movements against an attacker who might be much larger than the target. Audience members asked many questions and expressed an interest in more hands-on sessions to practice the three movements. ConGen Hong Kong plans to schedule follow-up session in January.