ThirdLove Bras Offer ‘Support’ to The Unmentionables

By Genevieve Westrope, Managing Director

It’s not often we hear stories of life-saving bras. But, in refugee camps around the world, having access to a bra can often do just that—by significantly reducing instances of sexual violence against women. This is because, like anywhere else, there exists an argument that women are more or less deserving of assault based on what they do or don’t wear at the time of the attack. Women who choose to wear short skirts or cleavage-baring tops are ‘asking for it’, and in a notorious incident at a Canadian university, a police officer suggested that women should consider their fashion choices if they did not want to be assaulted.

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Obviously, this is hugely problematic. Actually, I-have-no-words levels of problematic. No one is deserving of sexual violence, no matter what choices they make or what clothes they wear. But what’s even more unsettling is that women in refugee camps are being assaulted because they don’t have the choice to wear a bra or not. They just don’t have access to them. Why? Because intimate apparel, for men, women, and children, are some of the most overlooked and underprovided items in humanitarian response. We are all acutely aware of the consequences when there is a lack of food, water or shelter in times of crises, but there are consequences to a lack of bras and underwear, too. Feelings of shame or discomfort, and the potential for hygiene-related rashes or bacterial infections are just the beginning. The reality is, for women we’ve spoken to across Uganda, Kenya and Greece, the consequences can be much worse.

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With this always at top of mind, we’ve teamed up with ThirdLove, who has committed to providing thousands of displaced women around the world with bras—and choices. They’re not just donating a really high quality product that is already beloved in North America, they’re providing women protection, a feeling of safety and confidence, and the opportunity to be more independent. Having the ability to choose—bra or no bra, lacy or leopard print, push-up or sports--is the basis of empowerment. So, the opportunity to pick out a brand new bra and wear it whenever, wherever is empowering and life changing.

A quick Google search with the words ‘stigma’ and ‘no bra’ reveals that this discussion is far from over. Women’s bodies--in refugee camps or otherwise--will be policed whether or not they wear a bra, but we’re working to ensure that they’re not violated because of it. As I sit here in my perfectly fitted, worryingly comfortable ThirdLove bra, I’m optimistic that this is achievable.

Daniel Berberi