Girl, Talk: A VR-powered campaign created by NTU students to tackle campus sexual harassment in Singapore
Let's talk about it
While the prevalence of technology has made it seemingly easier and accessible for sexual predators to commit offences and crimes, there are always two edges to a sword. And a group of NTU female students has tapped on that to create a digitally-charged campaign titled Girl, Talk — for their final year project. A riff on the frivolous saying of 'girl talk', Girl, Talk aims to empower female undergraduates on responding to sexual harassment.
In a pre-campaign survey, the team found that many female undergraduates were unsure on how to respond when caught in an uncomfortable situation. Of the 190 students who were surveyed, only 32% of respondents were confident of responding in a difficult campus harassment situation, and just 17% of respondents knew where to find information about coping with and responding to campus harassment.
At the crux of the project is a VR simulation — designed with various scenarios based off real-life accounts from survivors who encountered associated situations. The first prototype was developed in support with local company Hiverlab and made its debut during Girl, Talk's launch earlier this January at The Moon. Over 50 female undergraduates tried on the VR headset, that placed them in scenarios of either being a bystander or victim. Whether it be receiving suggestive comments or unwelcome propositions for sexual favours from acquaintances, which were similar to real-life role play methods that have traditionally been used for sexual harassment prevention training in the workplace. Users would have to respond during the simulation, which takes into account emotions and reactions without compromising on their personal comfort and safety.
But beyond the final year stint, Girl, Talk remains as a supportive platform on creating safer, conducive spaces on campus to spark conversations, engage experts, and share resources when it comes to the issue of campus harassment. In numbers, come strength. The motivating community over at Girl, Talk addresses everything from what harassment looks like, overriding any self-blame or guilt, to equipping ourselves with knowledge, reading resources, and even self-defense techniques. And with the campaign's well-rounded approach of validating every single form of response in the case of a somewhat unfortunate incident, the silver lining from all of this is to reduce the negative impact on the survivor. Hopefully, this could trickle down to a decrease in harassment incidents as well.