Three years of A.N.D: What we’ve achieved so far

By Jennifer Robinson

It has been just over three years since the launch of Attacked Not Defeated and our contributor and ally to the charity Jennifer Robinson reflects on the progress made so far and exciting things to come.

August 2012: “I’ve had this idea.” This was the very beginning, the first time Phoebe shared her idea to launch a charity to provide comprehensive care for rape survivors and to detach stigma from sexual assault. This was the beginning of a long and challenging journey and the realisation of the hard work that goes in to starting a charity from scratch. The actual process of making a difference can be really boring at times with lots of paperwork!

January 2013: AND was officially launched at the White Lion in Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire, with the launch event raising almost £5,000. This was the first time Phoebe spoke publicly about her personal experience and her desire to provide a voice for survivors of sexual violence in Kampala. The generosity of all who took part meant that Attacked Not Defeated’s work could really get started. Around this time we started thinking more about social media and how to communicate our message.

February 2013: AND staged a flash mob in a major shopping centre in Kampala, as part of the One Billion Rising global campaign to end violence against women.  Over 30 women from all over the world danced, choreographed brilliantly by Eddy Isingoma.

April 2013: In April 2013, Phoebe met the talented and passionate Ugandan lawyer Shafir Yiga, who subsequently became the charity’s advisor and advocate. He drafted AND’s official Constitution and has been assisting us ever since, using his experience and knowledge to support our development.

May 2013: AND’s official website was launched, providing an invaluable platform for us to share our progress and allow people to donate directly.

August 2013: A sponsored cycle ride from Aylesbury to Africa raised over £2,000 towards our cause.

Phoebe Tansley and friend Emily Fulda with local residents in Kampala, Uganda

Phoebe Tansley and Emily Fulda with Phoebe’s extended Ugandan family in Iganga, Uganda

December 2013: Work began on our documentary Shattered Glass – (see top of page) which involved speaking to survivors and high profile activists from Uganda and the wider world. An eye opening film highlighting key issues surrounding sexual and gender based violence in Uganda.

Another exciting December milestone was the beginning of our partnership with The Clare Foundation. The collaboration meant that we were able to begin operating, fundraising and really planning the future of the organisation.

“I founded the charity on pure unadulterated passion, and the first year was definitely a big learning curve for me. I had moments where I thought how am I going to do this? But I have never lost sight of what I want to do and my vision. I just always try to remember that change has to start with one person.” Phoebe Tansley

September 2014: Phoebe hosted a black-tie fundraising event called The Pearl Ball. This was to screen the newly finished Shattered Glass documentary and was accompanied by a three course African-fusion dinner and an auction. This wonderful event raised £8,319.52, which was enough to run the charity for a year.

The Pearl Ball fundraising event help fund the running of the AND charity for an entire year

The Pearl Ball fundraising event help fund the running of the AND charity for an entire year

January 2015: After a successful feature interview with news-site This One Time, Phoebe launched the AND blog to continue the charity’s contribution to the discussion of sexual violence and gender issues. With a committed and inspired pool of individual writers from across the globe, the blog covers topics from tampon tax to arranged marriage in the 21st century and aims to engage supporters on the issues that we are tackling.

February 2015: Our first paid employee – Vivian, started working as our Country Manager. She oversees the day-to-day running of the organisation and keeps all of us in line. It was very exciting for us to have someone who was actually paid to work for AND, to dedicate time to it and ensure that it grows.

April 2015: In one of our most exciting milestones, Phoebe was interviewed for the institution that is Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio 4. When it aired, not only did her interview generate over £2,500 of private donations in just 48 hours, but she spoke beautifully, calmly and eloquently about her personal experiences and her efforts in supporting survivors of sexual violence in the UK and Uganda.  I count listening to her interview among one of my proudest moments in my three years with AND.


Click on the image to listen to the interview on iPlayer (21 min 30 seconds in)

Vivian Kukunda - Country Manager for Attacked Not Defeated

Vivian Kukunda – Country Manager for Attacked Not Defeated

The Present: Country Manager Vivian Kukunda gives us some insight of day to day operations in Uganda.

Personal Safety Initiatives: We are working to empower women to protect themselves through the use of the personal alarms, self defence classes, and self awareness workshops. We do not believe that the onus should be on the woman to physically overcome an attacker, but we feel strongly that assertiveness and a strong sense of self are the best protective factors a person can be equipped with. In the future we hope to also look into safe, subsidised transport.  In March 2015 we carried out a focus group to pinpoint the safety concerns of women in Kampala. We have also worked with FitClique Africa -the first exclusively women’s gym in Uganda- and ACODEV to conduct a workshop on increasing the safety of sex workers who live and work in Uganda’s border town of Kasese in Mpondwe-Lubhiriha.

Young Men’s Workshops:  Under the YMW program, we are developing

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

workshops that will contain various discussions and activities around the topic of gender based violence, equality, rights, responsibilities, conflict resolution and respect. We strongly believe that in order to create positive change on SGBV matters, it is essential to involve men to inspire change. Before this is done, AND is conducting a baseline study in form of focus groups, to gage attitudes of boys in Kampala aged 15-18. So far we have carried out focus groups in partnership with Action for Fundamental Change and Development and Old Kampala Secondary School. The information we are gathering from these focus groups is going to shape the curriculum for the workshops we are starting at the end of the year.

The Future

When terrible things happen, the concept of moving on tends to revolve around ‘getting back to normal’. Going back is never an option but you can choose how to move forwards. Anger is a deeply unhelpful emotion, but a powerful motivator. I was and am still angry about what happened to my friend, but I am proud of the grace and strength she has demonstrated in the time since.

So now we have reached the third birthday of Attacked Not Defeated; her vision to change so much for so many. As Phoebe herself noted in her February post on our blog, while it may not be apparent to others, she had many luxuries at her disposal in the aftermath. What if you have to go back to work? What if you don’t have insurance to cover your medical costs? What if you have never been told that you have a fundamental right as a human being to not be raped?

Many, many women and young girls in Uganda are raped every day. Almost 60% of women here will experience sexual or domestic violence between the ages of 15 and 49 [p.242 Uganda Demographics and Health Survey, 2011]. This is a very widespread problem and we are by no means the only people tackling it; we understand that we cannot stop rape from happening.

What we CAN do is tackle the attitude which leads to sexual and gender based violence in the first place. We can provide a service which will not blame anyone for what has happened to them. We can provide a secure refuge, an understanding and sensitive approach to clinical care, and ongoing advice and support.

Sometimes all it takes is a reassuring hand on the shoulder, to let someone know they are not alone.

If you’d like to help us to be there for women in need of support or help us fight the root causes of sexual violence in Uganda – please donate via our website and spread the word on social media.

Book Review: Asking For It by Kate Harding

By Soffi James

Full book title: Asking For It The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture and What We Can Do About It

Rape culture is probably a term you’ve come across. It’s probably also a term that you’re not sure what to make of. You are not alone; author Kate Harding (pictured above) cringed when she first came across the term 10 years ago. In her seminal book Asking For It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture and What We Can Do About It, Harding testifies, “it sounds so extreme at first that I confess even I, a proud feminist, initially balked at the term. Rape culture? Isn’t that overstating things just a smidge?”

But as she researched the subject more, she realised that rape culture was the only way to describe what she discovered. Kate Harding decided to create a guidebook of sorts, to explain the phrase, depict potent examples and offer up some solutions. And Harding has managed to deliver one of the most comprehensive, accessible and surprisingly funny feminist texts of the decade with wit and empathy.

‘Asking for it’

Much of Harding’s book is focused on victim blaming, a term that comes hand in hand with rape culture. She describes rape as the ‘perpetratorless crime’ with blame shifted to the victim; be that because of their clothing, attitude, or blood-alcohol levels, ultimately removing responsibility from the perpetrator.

Harding deconstructs the myths surrounding blame culture into seven different categories:

1. She asked for it.

2. It wasn’t really rape.

3. He didn’t mean to.

4. She wanted it.

5. She lied.

6. Rape is a trivial event.

7. Rape is a deviant event.

This book highlights how irresponsible and dangerous these myths are. Our cultural inability to accept that the action of rape is at the hands of a rapist, means that sexual assault has shifted into an “abstract threat for women, the way climate change is a threat to earth.”

Extending that metaphor; blaming the victim of rape is the same as blaming earth for the harm we have caused it. Puts it into perspective, right?


The alarming rise of rape culture

Between 2013/14 there were 64,205 reported cases of sexual assault in the UK. These numbers were the highest recorded by the police in 11 years. Whether rapes are happening more often or whether victims are becoming more open to reporting it is hard to say.

Harding explores the role of the media, popular culture and the internet in the facilitation of rape culture and the provocation of sexual assault. Her discussion of #GamerGate, pick-up artists like Neil Strauss and men’s rights activist groups (MRAs) combine to paint a persuasive picture of how the internet has played its role in rape incitement.

What we can do about it

Encouragingly, Harding admits that the internet is also providing a platform for open discussion about sexual assault. The explosion of online feminist discourse, as well as the growth in anti-rape activism on ad-spaces and computer screens, has created a continuous public dialogue.

In the section ‘What We Can Do About it’, Harding offers ideas and suggestions on how we, as a society, can take steps to eradicate rape culture. This is where Harding comes into her own. What is refreshing about this book is that she offers real solutions, including education campaigns, challenging it on social media and confronting rape culture within your own social circles.

The fact Harding’s no-nonsense break-down on rape culture is being noticed, is good news. The downside is that we continue to have a major problem with rape and until we don’t need cultural critics like Kate Harding to unpack the swirling mixture of cultural influences that affect that way we think about assault, Harding has proven herself to be the best person for the job.

Open letter to Roosh V, ‘pick-up artist’ campaigning for the legalisation of rape

By Phoebe Tansley

roosh v

Roosh V states in order to stop rape, we must legalise it. Read his deluded proposal here

Attacked Not Defeated CEO, Phoebe Tansley writes on open letter to Daryush Valizadeh also known as Roosh V, an American anti-feminist writer and self-titled ‘pick-up artist’ authoring books on how to get women into bed. Recently a campaign was launched to remove his publications from Amazon, on the basis that he not only teaches readers ‘how to rape’ and advocates for the legalisation of rape, but also admits to having committed sexual assault himself.

To Daryush,

Let me introduce myself; I’m Phoebe. I’m an advocate for the prevention of sexual violence, a feminist and a survivor of rape. So according to your beliefs, I am living in denial, I’m a pain in the arse and I’m a liar. Hi!

I founded an organisation in Uganda three years ago to support women who have been sexually assaulted. I believe in education and empowerment and open discussions about gender based violence and how it can be stopped. Therefore I read your proposal to legalise all rape occurring within a private setting, with an open mind.

My reaction is a combination of repulsed incomprehension, exasperation and fascination.

Although you openly admit to having raped various women in your series of ‘Bang’ books, you don’t seem to appreciate the reality of what you have done. It seems to me that you view rape as a label more than an act. It’s ruining your fun. According to you, if women would just accept that they are going to have sex if they enter onto private premises with a man, then rape would seldom happen. Am I right or am I right guys?! *Raises hand for a high-five* *Left hanging, awkward silence, proceeds to smooth hair over*. Carrying on…

I have encountered the objectification of women in many instances, but your own twisted take on it is stunning – profound even. Not only do you fail to acknowledge that we as human beings have the cognitive ability (and human right – those pesky things) to make choices about our bodies and the verbal capacity to express those choices, you also disregard the fact we are one of the only mammals on earth who have sex for pleasure.

Roosh V believes that if a women is intoxicated, she is unverbally agreeing to have sex. Image source: SAVE Sexual Assault Voices of Edmonton Campaign

You make a flippant comparison between a woman choosing to visit a man’s apartment to somebody walking through a shady neighbourhood. You say that a person walking alone at night is asking to be mugged by choosing that particular route and therefore equally a woman who chooses to enter a private premises is surely consenting to sex. You go on to state that society doesn’t ‘teach ghetto kids not to steal’ so why is society trying to encourage you not to rape?

I’m afraid it just doesn’t hold up.

Your rationale is obsolete because BREAKING NEWS; we generally do as a society uphold a strong belief that stealing is wrong – maybe you missed the memo. The point you are making is actually the complete opposite of what anti-violence campaigners like me use as a basis to change attitudes. Let me break it down for you:

If you were mugged on the street, or had your home broken into while you were sleeping, we would not blame you. We would not say you ‘asked for it’ by walking down the street or by forgetting to close your kitchen window. We would direct blame fully onto the perpetrator because they committed a crime. In these cases, accountability is mostly very clear cut. The change in narrative that occurs when the crime is of a sexual nature (and I use that term in a technical sense rather than a descriptive one), is illogical, conducive to victim-blaming and massively damaging. has gathered almost 200,000 signatures petitioning Amazon to stop selling Roosh V's books advocating rape has gathered almost 200,000 signatures petitioning Amazon to stop selling Roosh V’s books, advocating rape

I want you to take responsibility for yourself and for your role as somebody whose written and verbal expressions are accessible to the masses, but I know that’s an ambitious aim. You claim that the sexual and gender based violence experienced by one in three women in their lifetime is ‘preventable’, if only women would stop putting themselves in situations where they could be assaulted. Are you then saying that men are not capable of controlling themselves? Don’t you think that is insulting to the very men you are trying to influence?

Take time to reflect on the concept of consent and that when it is not enthusiastically given, or CANNOT be given, lives can be shattered as a result.

Even if you feel no empathy for the women you are sexually violating, ultimately your behaviour is going to get you nowhere apart from on the sex offenders list. And if, as you say, sex is just ‘what you do’ then why not have a go at exercising respect – for yourself as well as your sexual partners.

To sign the petition to stop Amazon selling Roosh V’s ‘Bang’ books, click here.