16 Things You Didn’t Know About Incest/Child Sexual Abuse And How To End It

We are pleased to welcome a guest “16 For 16” article from the RAHI Foundation. Established in 1996, RAHI is a pioneering organisation focused on women survivors of Incest and Child Sexual Abuse (CSA). RAHI’s work includes support and recovery through the distinctive RAHI Model of Healing, awareness and education about incest/ CSA, training and intervention, and research and capacity building – all established within the larger issue of social change.

In this article, they provide an overview of what incest/child sexual abuse is and the steps we can take for prevention and intervention when we recognise it in our communities.


Child sexual abuse is the abuse of a child involving sexual activity by a more powerful person. When this person is a member of the child’s family or close enough to the child’s family to qualify as ‘as if’ family, the abuse is called incest.

Incest/child sexual abuse (CSA) is veiled in silence. Like all forms of abuse and harassment, we want to believe ‘it doesn’t happen here’, but the reality of incest/CSA is far grimmer and made up of uncomfortable truths. Incest/CSA is more common than we realise, and usually perpetrated by someone loved, respected and trusted by the child. They can have damaging consequences on the child which can continue into adulthood. However, its scars are not permanent, and victims and survivors of incest/CSA can heal from their abuse, leave their past behind, and lead rich, fulfilling lives.

Incest/CSA is also shrouded in myths and misconceptions, which none of us are immune to falling for. Here are 16 things you didn’t know about incest/CSA.

*NB: We use the term ‘victims’ for children who have been sexually abused and ‘survivors’ for adults who were sexually abused when they were children.


Part 1: Get The Facts About Incest/Child Abuse

Recognising & Ending Incest/CSA #1: It’s more common than you think. Incest/CSA is the epidemic no one speaks about. A government-led study on child abuse in India in 2007 revealed that out of a sample of over 14,000 children, 53.3% had experienced some form of sexual abuse in childhood. RAHI’s own research, detailed in Voices from the Silent Zone (published, 1998 – you can order a copy over email), found that amongst 600 English speaking middle- and upper-class women in cities in India, 76% had experienced sexual abuse in childhood out of which 40% was incest.

Recognising & Ending Incest/CSA #2: It mostly takes place in families. Media reports on incest/CSA usually portray it as an act committed by a stranger. However, the majority of cases of CSA are cases of incest with the perpetrator being a member of the child’s family, or someone close to and respected by the child’s family.

Recognising & Ending Incest/CSA #3: Abusers are not monsters. As much as we would like to believe that abusers are different from us and place them in the guise of ‘monsters’ or ‘mentally ill,’ the truth is that abusers are more like us than they are not like us. It is impossible for us to identify an abuser unless we know that he is abusing.

Recognising & Ending Incest/CSA #4: Victims and survivors find it difficult to disclose what has happened to them. Disclosure is especially difficult for children who may lack the language to speak about what happened, may have been threatened by the abuser or may fear not being believed if they do disclose. Survivors of incest/CSA may only speak up about their abuse years after it takes place. Some may never reveal it at all. It takes an enormous amount of courage to speak about one’s own abuse.

Recognising & Ending Incest/CSA #5: The majority of cases of incest/CSA are unreported. The rate of reporting of incest/CSA cases is even lower than the rate of disclosure. Fear of social stigma, the complexity of the victim’s feelings for her abuser and the daunting process of navigating the criminal justice system all contribute to the hesitation to report abuse.

Recognising & Ending Incest/CSA #6: Survivors of incest/CSA may remember the abuse months, years or decades after it happened. Survivors may suppress memories of their abuse and how it made them feel. Some may not even recall having been sexually abused. However, these memories may be triggered by events or experiences that take place later in the survivor’s life.

Recognising & Ending Incest/CSA #7: Incest/CSA has a long term impact on a woman’s emotional, mental and sexual health. Survivors of incest/CSA deal with comments like ‘It happened so long ago – it’s no big deal’ or ‘ just get over it’. However, when left unchecked, the impact of incest/CSA manifests in adulthood in the form of low self-esteem, relationship issues, eating disorders, self-harm or other destructive behaviours, and more.

Recognising & Ending Incest/CSA #8: Recovery is possible. Survivors do not have to live with the effects of incest/CSA all their lives. Counselling that focuses on recovery and healing from the abuse empowers a survivor to acknowledge what happened and decide to act to reclaim their lives. Through the healing process, survivors are able to move beyond the abuse and build fulfilling lives for themselves.

Part 2: Things You Can Do About Incest/CSA

Incest/CSA can be identified and prevented. It is the responsibility of the adults in a child’s life to identify signs of abuse or distress and take action. Here are 8 things you can do to prevent incest/CSA:

Recognising & Ending Incest/CSA #9: Accept and believe that incest/CSA could happen in your own family or home. While we want to believe that incest/CSA doesn’t or would never happen in our family, by denying the possibility that our own home could be unsafe for a child we make the space even more unsafe. When we believe that incest/CSA is as likely to happen in our own homes as anywhere else, we can take the necessary precautions to create safe spaces for children and decrease the risk of incest/CSA happening.

Recognising & Ending Incest/CSA #10: Seek help for your own abuse, if any. If you are a survivor of incest/CSA yourself, it is possible that the impact of your own abuse is affecting your behaviour. Survivors may show overprotective or overcautious behaviour that may end up hindering children’s development rather than enabling their independence. When you have resolved the issues around your own abuse, you will be better equipped to take the steps needed to prevent incest/CSA .

Recognising & Ending Incest/CSA #11: Watch out for signs. While children may not be able to disclose that they are being abused, certain behaviours or signs, such as inappropriate sexual behaviour with other children or writing stories about sex or abuse, indicate that the child is facing sexual abuse. More general symptoms such as frequent illnesses, withdrawal and isolation, and eating disturbances are also signs of distress in a child.

Recognising & Ending Incest/CSA #12: Educate yourself. Read about incest/CSA on the Internet and follow organisations working on the issue on Facebook and Twitter. If there is an organisation near you working on incest/CSA you can volunteer with them or see if they are holding any workshops and training programmes that you can attend (you can reach out to RAHI Foundation for information by writing in to info@rahifoundation.org). When fighting to end incest/CSA, a sound education on the subject is the most formidable weapon in your arsenal.

Recognising & Ending Incest/CSA #13: Talk to children about sexuality and boundaries. Children should grow up knowing that sex is not something to be embarrassed or ashamed about. It is up to us to teach them their rights and tell them that it’s OK to say ‘no’ – even to an adult. Children should also know who they can go to in case someone does something to them that makes them feel uncomfortable.

Recognising & Ending Incest/CSA #14: Create a safe space for children. Make sure you create an environment in which children and their opinions are valued and respected. In a safe space, a child is not fearful of approaching an adult or wary that she might be reprimanded or punished for saying what she feels. A child that is involved and treated as a vital part of the community – whether it is within the home, school, or any other setting – is more likely to be able to tell a trusted adult if she is being abused.

Recognising & Ending Incest/CSA #15: Talk about it. Since so many cases of child sexual abuse are cases of incest, bringing incest/CSA into everyday conversation challenges the very foundation of the family unit, making it an issue people are reluctant to talk about. This, of course, makes it all the more necessary to talk about it. Talk about incest/CSA as you talk about current events with family and friends, take part in online campaigns and conversations around the issue, and if you have any influence in the media (especially social media), make it a part of your agenda to include the topic in your public conversations whenever possible.

Recognising & Ending Incest/CSA #16: Know how to react. In order to prevent incest/CSA from recurring you need to know what to do when a child discloses their sexual abuse to you. The most important thing to do is to believe the child. Reassure her that she did the right thing in coming to you and that the abuse was not her fault. When you take action, make sure you tell the child what action you are taking. If she feels you are talking about the abuse behind her back, she will feel like she did something wrong. Involve the child and respect her feelings when deciding on what course of action you will take.

The Pixel Project Selection 2017: 16 Notable Facebook Pages by Anti-Violence against Women Organisations

Since it was founded in 2004, Facebook has become a social media powerhouse with over 1.94 billion monthly active users as of June 2017. Facebook has grown from a basic social connection website to a life platform. It is used to find, connect and catch up with friends, to read the news, to conduct business, to shop, and to learn.

Facebook is also used to find causes, organisations, and events that are important to us and to advocate for various issues. Now Facebook users can learn about and support global issues from their own homes. Violence against women (VAW) is one of the global human rights issues finding supporters on Facebook. Now, a story about VAW can be read, watched, or heard via Facebook by millions of people around the globe. They can follow organisational news, participate in grassroots campaigns, and donate right from their mobile phone or computer.

More importantly, more than a billion Facebook members worldwide can now locate anti-VAW organisations’ Facebook pages to learn about VAW or quietly get VAW victims and survivors the help they need should they be unable to speak on the phone or otherwise physically get help. Every little bit helps!

This is our sixth annual list of 16 recommended Facebook pages which we have selected because of their unique approach to fighting all kinds of VAW. To make it as representative as possible the selection covers a wide range of countries across different continents. So choose a couple to ‘like’, or better yet ‘like’ them all, get informed, and take action.

Introduction by Rebecca DeLuca and Maria del Rio; Written and compiled by Maria del Rio with additional content by Regina Yau.


Recommended Facebook Page #1: Afghan Women’s Writing Project – Afghanistan

The Afghan Women’s Writing Project reaches out to women teachers in the United States and engages them, on a volunteer rotation basis, to mentor Afghan women online. The aim of this project is to encourage women to share their stories from their unique perspectives, as sharing is itself a healing process and also a way of helping other women understand their own issues and problems. The blog aims at raising awareness while protecting the privacy of the courageous women who contribute to it. The importance of this blog is four-fold: it helps women feel proud of their stories and heritage, it educates people about Afghan women’s lives under the Taliban and their current issues, it is a method to document their present lives, and it promotes a positive link between Afghans and Americans that goes beyond what they have heard of each other’s countries.

Recommended Facebook Page #2: Edinburgh Women’s Aid – Scotland

At the Edinburgh Women’s Aid they believe that our society should be free from domestic abuse and that women and children deserve to live their lives without fear or violence. With over 40 years of experience, they provide practical and emotional support to women, children and young people at risk of domestic abuse and raise awareness by providing emotional and practical support to survivors. More importantly, their motto is to never judge anyone that reaches out for help, respecting women and their personal choices and providing them with resources.

Recommended Facebook Page #3: EVE Organization for Women’s Development – South Sudan

EVE Organization for Women Development was founded by South Sudanese women from many Sudanese Universities who came together to help transform the lives of women in South Sudan. Because of political instability, they focus their work on women’s peace and security, and socio-economic stability. However, they have gone further and are pushing for women’s participation and inclusion in decision-making and peace processes, as they understand women need to be part of the negotiations in order to achieve positive impact. They focus their community work on issues of utmost importance in South Sudan: fostering school attendance and promoting girls to go back to school, societal perception of women and their roles in the community, economic empowerment, and training and awareness for capacity building.

Recommended Facebook Page #4: Kvenréttindafélag Íslands (The Icelandic Women’s Rights Association) – Iceland and the Nordic countries

This non-governmental organisation (NGO) in Reykjavík, Iceland works on combating online VAW (including revenge porn) and has been fighting for women’s rights and gender equality since 1907. In spite of Iceland being the best country for gender equality (according to the Global Gender Gap Index), not a single territory on this planet has achieved full equality. Founded by Bríet Bjarnhéðinsdóttir, a woman who fought for suffrage rights, its focus now is on increasing women‘s representation in parliament and other leadership positions in big organisations. They also elaborate reports for the Icelandic parliament and other ministers and lobby to make gender studies a mandatory subject in secondary schools, and raise awareness about harassment and violence against women online. Moreover, they celebrate women‘s history in Iceland and support women‘s culture and women artists all year round by hosting open meetings, conferences, seminars, and other events.

Recommended Facebook Page #5: Liberty from Violence – Australia

Liberty from Violence is the newest of the chosen organisations for this year, aiming not only at raising awareness against gender violence, but also fundraising. The money raised will be used to fill in the gaps in the survivors’ paths, and they are doing so by researching current available resources in Wagga Wagga, Australia, and matching them with the current needs of the survivors. There are three programs: providing support for survivors of domestic violence (women, mothers with children and youth); supporting local refugees to help them settle, and providing funds for emergency relief purposes for survivors of domestic violence so that they don’t have to return to a violent home.

Recommended Facebook Page #6: Namibia Women’s Health Network (NWHN) – Namibia

Namibia Women’s Health Network (NWHN) is a community-based organisation, with a group of fourteen women who registered with the Ministry of Health and Social Services in 2007 to empower those infected and affected by HIV and AIDS in Namibia. They currently work with civil society organisations and the national and local governments to address the issues faced by HIV positive women in Namibia. The network currently connects 1400 members across the 13 regions of Namibia to disseminate accurate information on sexual reproductive health, prevention of mother to child transmission, cervical cancer, etc. Moreover, among other services, they guide women on organisations fighting gender-based violence and sensitising community members, policy makers, and traditional leaders on issues affecting women living with HIV.

Recommended Facebook Page #7: Nisaa Institute for Women’s Development – South Africa

They host numerous campaigns online, with the aim of raising awareness and educating people on forms of violence against women. Currently, the organisation is running a campaign on sexual consent called “Consent is Sexy!” Their unique approach is their two-fold strategy: consent not only in more casual encounters but also the importance of consent in marriages. They also host a radio program with 30-minute episodes centered on issues faced by women in their community, with the aim of encouraging open and honest talks about gender and violence against women while educating the listeners. Their third campaign is about date rape but tackles issues beyond consent such as HIV/AIDS, dating tips and support strategies for the rape survivor.

Recommended Facebook Page #8: Red Thread Women: Crossroads Women’s Centre – Guyana

Founded in 1986 (and available on Facebook chat) the Red Thread is a grassroots organisation that works with women to better their life conditions, bridging the gap between differences to transform their status. They work with women and children who have suffered the consequences of unequal distribution of power in their society and provide them with tools to help them change the power differences from within their relationships. They approach topics of world-wide interest from a local perspective: from the gender pay gap to fighting all kinds of violence against women, to foster unity and defy fights inside society.

Recommended Facebook Page #9: The RAHI Foundation –– India

RAHI, a non-profit organisation based in New Delhi, India, is a one-of-a-kind organisation in the country: it works with adult women survivors of incest and childhood sexual abuse, and offers services by providing individual and group services for survivors aimed at their psychological, emotional, sexual and spiritual recovery. Moreover, it also works with girls who have experienced child sexual abuse, works to raise awareness about incest and other forms of child sexual abuse, and offers advice to other organisations that want to start support groups in other parts of India. Furthermore, whenever they have a person online, Facebook chat shows the following message: “RAHI Foundation is active now. Start a conversation” so that visitors can chat.

Recommended Facebook Page #10: WAVAW Rape Crisis Centre – Canada

The WAVAW Rape Crisis Centre focuses on ending all forms of violence against women by challenging the status quo and the way we think about and look at things. They provide support and healing therapies to help survivors of sexualised violence and help them develop leadership for prevention of future violence. Moreover, they promote legal, social, and attitudinal changes to dismantle systemic oppression of women that perpetuates violence. Moreover, they welcome all Facebook users to engage in conversation with them, however, they are also very strict: any hateful, women-blaming comments are deleted and the user will be banned from their Facebook page.

Recommended Facebook Page #11: Women’s Aid Leicestershire Limited – England

Women’s Aid Leicestershire Limited provides free and confidential support to survivors of domestic abuse and sexual violence on their journey to empowerment and also to prevent future violence. When necessary they provide survivors with safe shelter, and they also offer counseling for women and children survivors of domestic violence and sexual violence.

Recommended Facebook Page #12: Women Against Violence Association – Jordan

WAV’s mission is not only to address all kind of violence against women, but also to promote the ways in which women and their roles promote building healthy societies. Moreover, due to Jordan’s geopolitical situation, WAV also has a special chapter on terrorism, from clarifying concepts to exposing motivations to helping prevent attacks. WAV is trying to reach as many survivors as possible through different activities such as publishing articles and other stories, communication strategies, and conferences. Both their Facebook and their website are in Arabic with limited information in English.

Recommended Facebook Page #13: WomenPowerConnect – India

WomenPowerConnect is a non-profit NGO that works to foster women’s empowerment and gender justice. They work to ensure the effective implementation of gender-friendly legislation and the active participation of women in policy outcomes regarding women’s representation in Parliament, budget, prevention of sexual harassment at the workplace, and fighting sex- selective abortions, among other issues. In order to achieve their objectives, they have formed an alliance of over 1000 women’s groups and individuals from all over India to work together raising awareness about women’s issues and therefore influencing legislators and policy makers to create and implement gender friendly policies.

Recommended Facebook Page #14: Women’s Refuge New Zealand – New Zealand

Women’s Refuge is the largest NGO in New Zealand dedicated to the prevention of domestic violence, with a network of 45 affiliated women’s refuges in the country. They also offer women and children a helpline, where they answer almost seven calls every hour. Centred around building a country free from domestic and family violence, they aim to empower women and children to live free of domestic and family violence through social change fostered by education and advocacy. They also have a new program, named Whanau Project, that helps domestic violence survivors at risk of re-victimisation or further attacks to upgrade their homes with state of the art technology to help them safely stay at their place.

Recommended Facebook Page #15: Women Under Siege – International

This journalism project investigates and writes about how sexual violence including rape, was and is being used as a tool in genocide and conflict in the 20th and 21st centuries. It was created by Gloria Steinem, and building on the investigations of Sonja Hedgepeth and Rochelle Saidel (who wrote about sexual violence against Jewish women during the Holocaust and the studies of Danielle McGuire who wrote about sexual violence against black women in the USA). The project started with the intention of understanding our past so that we can prevent our societies from making the same mistakes and with the hypothesis that the gender-based violence that happened in Bosnia and Democratic Republic of the Congo’s conflicts could have been prevented from happening. They have a special chapter documenting sexual violence in Syria through a live crowdsourced map at: https://womenundersiegesyria.crowdmap.com

Recommended Facebook Page #16: The “Women Won’t Wait” Campaign – Latin American Region

This bilingual campaign is hosted in Spanish and English to reach Latin American women across borders. It’s an international coalition of women’s organisations that fosters inclusivity and diversity among its members to gather together talent, perspective and energy to promote a general switch in how societies perceive HIV/AIDS and gender-based violence. The campaign researches the links between gender-based violence and HIV/AIDS and to help break the circle with the aim to help empower women and girls with HIV/AIDS to reduce their vulnerability, by working to change policies and societal views on the issue.

16 Self-Care Ideas for Anti-Violence Against Women Activists and Advocates

To be an activist or advocate working to bring about positive social change in communities worldwide is to have one of the most rewarding jobs in the world as one is helping to usher in and build a kinder, more just and more equitable world for all. However, change is also difficult and slow to bring about, frequently requiring long hours at work, dealing with individuals and communities that are entrenched in their ways, and a long-term single-minded commitment to the cause. This makes social justice work daunting, stressful, exhausting and sometimes downright dangerous.

Activists and advocates working on women’s rights and issues face a particularly uphill battle due to a combination of job hazards: not only are women’s human rights activists and organisations some of the most severely underfunded in the world but female women’s human rights activists and advocates also frequently receive everything from death threats to rape threats as a routine job hazard. Some are murdered or raped in order to silence their changemaking efforts. For those who remain alive and fighting on, the potential for burnout is particularly high due to a combination of overwork, financial stress and constant harassment from the patriarchal establishment.

To counteract and stave off burnout while carrying on fighting the good fight, activists and advocates need to take care of themselves but many struggle to do so because of the overwhelming demands on their time and energy by the cause.

Nevertheless, self-care doesn’t have to be an insurmountable obstacle, nor does it require lots of time and money. In fact, one of the key ways to integrate self-care into your routine is to make it part of your daily rituals. So here are 16 ways you can care for yourself wherever you are, without disrupting your everyday life. This list is by no means comprehensive and not every suggestion may fit every activist or advocate, but we hope it’s a good starting point.

Introduction by Regina Yau; Written and compiled by Elizabeth DeHoff and Regina Yau


Part 1: Back To Basics

Self-Care Suggestion #1: Sleep Is Sacred

Countless studies have found that inadequate or poor sleep can throw everything else in your life off-kilter. One recent report indicated that even just 6 hours sleep is not enough. Try to stick to a regular bedtime and practice good sleep hygiene including making sure you have at least 30 minutes of quiet time to wind down before bedtime. Disengage your mind from work if you can. If you have a smartphone, tablet or laptop, banish screens from your sleeping area for at least an hour before you go to sleep – or use apps that gradually shift the light on your screens from blue (which keeps you awake) to orange (which signals your brain to slow down).

Self-Care Suggestion #2: Nourish Yourself

A big part of staying healthy while on the job is to eat as well as you are able to within your budget and circumstances. Eat fresh food and home-cooked meals whenever you can – learn the basics of cooking if you don’t already cook for yourself. Choose wisely if you have to eat out. And to keep your energy and concentration levels constant and optimal, try not to skip the main meals of the day. At the very least, take your lunch hour – both to have some food as well as some mid-day breathing space from work. Going on a diet? Make sure to get professional guidance from your doctor or dietitian to ensure that you’re getting the nourishment that you need.

Self-Care Suggestion #3: Bathe Your Cares Away

Whether you start or end your day with a shower or bath, you can integrate elements that soothe your senses: a fragrant soap, candles, a hair treatment, soothing music. If you’re going to be in the shower anyway, you might as well make it a pleasant experience. In the evenings, warm showers can also help with relaxation. In addition, regular baths help ensure your personal hygiene is on point and one less thing to stress about.

Self-Care Suggestion #4: Get Moving

You don’t have to run a marathon in order to benefit from exercise. Even as little as 10 minutes a day can boost your mood and improve your cardiovascular health. When you’re at work, take a break every hour to walk up and down a flight of stairs or walk briskly around the block. Ideally, you should aim for 45 to 90 minutes of physical activity per day, but you don’t have to do it all at once – it can be easier to approach if you break it up into smaller blocks. Even if you don’t have time for a full-on workout, you can set aside five or ten minutes to stretch every morning and evening. Your body will thank you! If you’re not sure how to get started, search YouTube or Vimeo for instructional videos.

Self-Care Suggestion #5: Get Out and About

Exposure to sunlight can boost your mood along with your Vitamin D levels. Try to get at least 10 minutes per day. Be sure to wear sunscreen and cover up, though – too much sun is the opposite of self-care! If you live in a place where you don’t get much sun, consider buying a SAD light, which mimics the positive effects of sun exposure indoors.

Take it a step further by searching for ways to connect with the natural world while getting your daily sunshine quota. Do you walk or bike to work? Detour through a park on your way. Do you spend most of your time at home? Cultivate a garden or even just a potted plant – any flower shop will be happy to sell you something low-maintenance if you have no talent for greenery.

Self-Care Suggestion #6: Get That Check-Up

Due to their hectic and overextended work schedules, one of the ways in which activists and advocates inadvertently slip up on their personal healthcare is to not go for their annual medical check-up. If you have done this in the past, try this: call your nearest clinic or general practice at the beginning of the year to set up an appointment for your annual check-up in January or February so you can get this done before the year gets underway and you get too busy. Alternatively, if you know your doctor well, ask them to send you a text message or email reminding you of your annual check-up. If you are a woman, remember to also schedule and attend an appointment to check your breasts and have a pap smear – it’s better to catch any health issues early.

Self-Care Suggestion #7: Define and Defend Your Day Off

With the lives of women and girls literally at stake, anti-violence against women activism is basically a round-the-clock job and many activists typically work a 7-day week, whether it’s helping women escape their abuser while he’s away one weekend, building a case against a rapist or handling intensive time-sensitive online petitions. Working non-stop for weeks or even months on end can result in burnout, so set aside one day a week to rest and recharge. If your schedule is irregular or includes shift or cyclical campaign work, make sure that you take at least a couple of days off per month. Set the date(s) then defend them from colleagues who ask to swap slots or any work matters that intrude on your time off.

Self-Care Suggestion #8: Curate Your Consumption

Today’s fast-paced hyperconnected social media-driven world is a double-edged sword. On one hand, social media provides opportunities for activists and advocates to campaign, educate, fundraise, and connect to the wider world at a keystroke. On the other hand, social media can batter everyone with a deluge horrible news, especially when high-profile VAW stories such as the Weinstein and Cosby cases or VAW-related hashtags such as #metoo and #notokay go viral. While it’s imperative for activists and advocates to stay aware of developments in order to respond accordingly, make sure you carve out some news-free time to avoid the information overload and unwarranted emotional and psychological stress from a negative news cycle. Curate what you watch for entertainment too – for example: if you work for rape crisis services, try to avoid watching movies and series or reading books where rape is featured as it may compound the secondary PTSD you face from work.

Part 2: Beyond The Basics

Self-Care Suggestion #9: Meditate (or Get Spiritual)

Meditation requires no special skills, and you can do it anywhere: at home, at work, on the bus or train, in bed. New to meditation? Free or low-cost apps and websites like Headspace can guide you through the basics. If you don’t fancy meditating but are religious, try dedicating even a few minutes a day to quiet prayer to clear your mind and focus your faith, especially when times are tough on the work front – regardless of your religion you will benefit from having a moment each day to just breathe and connect with your spiritual side.

Self-Care Suggestion #10: Harness the Power of Music

Humans have used music as an emotional outlet or a way to regulate emotions for centuries. Make a playlist of music that soothes you, or look for mood-based playlists on services like Spotify or Pandora. And don’t be afraid to sing along if the urge hits you! If you do perform music, be it playing a musical instrument, singing, or even DJ-ing, be sure to work time into your weekly schedule to do so be it private violin practice time, singing with the local choir or DJ-ing at the local club.

Self-Care Suggestion #11: Get Artsy or Crafty

Creativity can be a satisfying outlet even if you aren’t particularly skilled. You don’t have to make a quilt or crochet a pair of socks – the main idea is to create something even if it’s small or flawed or simple. Ready to level up? Channel your emotions into your crafts by making a naughty cross-stitch or clever protest signs.

Not a fan of crafts? Then tap into your inner artist – write, sculpt, dance, paint. As with crafts, your art can act as an emotional safety valve that will help you express your stress, fear, sadness, and anger safely and effectively.

Self-Care Suggestion #12: Learn Something New

Take a few minutes each day to learn something new – your brain will be too busy processing the new information to dwell on things that are bothering you. Try an app like Duolingo, which will teach you a new language in a fun way, or take a free online course via Khan Academy.

Self-Care Suggestion #13: Animal Magnetism

Spend some time playing with a pet if you have one or watching cute animal videos if you don’t. Interacting with animals boosts the chemicals in your brain that trigger feelings of contentment. If you have some time to spare, see if your local animal shelter needs volunteers to take their dogs for walks! Bonus is that this ties in very neatly with Self-care Suggestion #4 and #5 to get enough exercise and to get fresh air and sunshine outdoors!

Self-Care Suggestion #14: Look Good, Feel good

Do something fun for your appearance – whatever form that takes for you! Treat yourself to a haircut. Paint your toenails a funky color. Pick up some cheap yet chic lip gloss from the drugstore. Wear a skirt that makes you feel awesome about yourself (or your favorite pair of Doc Martens, or your sharpest suit, or your geekiest T-shirt). This isn’t about dressing up for other people – it’s all about YOU. Treat yourself!

Self-Care Suggestion #15: An Indulgent Cuppa

Sit down and enjoy your favorite drink. Coffee, tea, wine (in moderation) – any beverage that calms you can be turned into a ritual of enjoyment and luxury. Close your eyes and luxuriate in the taste, smell, texture and temperature. Enjoy something warm when the weather is chilly; indulge in a cool drink when it’s hot outside. If you’re feeling sociable, share the experience with a friend or your partner. Stopping for a relaxing cup of coffee or tea at some point during the day is also a way to mark a few minutes of time out from a hectic day.

Self-Care Suggestion #16: Small Random Acts of Kindness

Brighten up someone else’s day! Buy coffee for the person behind you in the queue, write a thank-you note to someone who inspires you, offer to watch a neighbor’s kids for a few hours so they can take a break – the goal is to do something nice for another person… within reason. Don’t martyr yourself. Kindness can be self-care as long as you set reasonable limits on it.

Most of all – be kind to yourself… because that is what self-care is all about.

The Pixel Project Selection 2017: 16 Notable Anti-VAW Activists and Organisations You Should Follow on Twitter

In a hyperconnected world that is increasingly dominated by virtual communities and online news, social media has become a major influencer on and driver of how we understand activism and politics in this day and age. This has been made possible by organisations and individual activists taking to social media to expand on their anti-Violence Against Women (anti-VAW) work, putting it to work for the cause in different ways. Among the many social media platforms available, Twitter is a go-to for many people to get news updates, to find out the opinions of specialists working in a particular area about the latest happenings, and to share or engage with discussions online.

Using Twitter, anti-VAW organisations and individual activists and advocates are now able to raise awareness about issues happening in their own community in a way that is accessible  worldwide to anyone with an internet connection. Consequently, Twitter has become a helpful tool – acting as a free impromptu newsfeed for anybody wanting or needing to keep up-to-date with the anti-VAW work of various organisations and activists globally. With just a quick search for the hashtag – #vaw, for example –  a user can be acquainted with a lot of what people are doing in this area in various parts of the world and also contribute/engage in various ways with the cause.

With that in mind, The Pixel Project presents our 2017 Twitter selection to make your task easier by helping you sort your search. We narrowed down the many incredible organisations and individuals involved in the cause to end violence against women to the 16 listed below. These are organisations, grassroots groups, and people who will keep you informed simply because they share the passion to create a better tomorrow for girls and women everywhere.

Introduction by Rebecca DeLuca and Adishi Gupta; Written and compiled by Adishi Gupta.


Twitter Follow Recommendation 1: Against Violence & Abuse (@AVAproject) – United Kingdom

AVA Project is an independent charity that aims to put an end to gender-based violence and abuse in the UK. It is a survivor-centred organisation driven by and according to the needs and comfort of survivors. The AVA Project’s Twitter account regularly posts updates about its work and also about the work by and information from various other anti-VAW organisations in the UK and beyond.

Twitter Follow Recommendation 2: Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women (@GAATW_IS) – Thailand

GAATW is an independent network of anti-human trafficking non-governmental organisations from around the world. It works with trafficked and migrant women around the world and is is committed to galvanising change in the economic, political, social and legal systems and structures that contribute to the persistence of trafficking. GAATW’s Twitter account informs its followers about their latest events and programmes while disseminating useful information and articles about human trafficking worldwide.

Twitter Follow Recommendation 3: Global Network of Women’s Shelters (@WomensShelters) – International

Global Network of Women’s Shelters aims to unite the women’s shelter movement globally in order to put an end to violence against women and their children. Their Twitter account updates its followers about its global conferences about ending VAW, and useful information about the various kinds of violence women are subjected to, its effects on survivors, and the ways to combat it.


Twitter Follow Recommendation 4: Her Zimbabwe (@herzimbabwe) – Zimbabwe

Her Zimbabwe is a digital media publishing platform that aims to share and foreground the stories of Zimbabwean women. It publishes Zimbabwean women’s stories and voices across various categories and is a great platform to learn about their stuggles in dealing with different kinds of structural violence, including those rooted in patriarchy and racism. Her Zimbabwe’s Twitter account shares updates not just about their published articles but also about articles and information from various other platforms.

Twitter Follow Recommendation 5: Mama Cash (@mamacash) – Netherlands

Mama Cash is an international funding organisation that supports women’s, girls’ and trans people’s human rights and social justice movements around the world. Diversity is at the heart of its values and thus it supports and promotes initiatives for and by women from different sexualities, ethnicities and professions. Mama Cash’s Twitter timeline keeps its followers updated about anti-VAW news and activism by various organisations and individuals around the world. They also use their Twitter account to announce any upcoming grant application opportunities for organisations to apply for so that they can carry on with their work to fight VAW without running out of financial resources.

Twitter Follow Recommendation 6: Mona Eltahawy (@monaeltahawy) – Cairo

Mona Eltahawy, the author of “Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution,” is a public speaker and New York Times columnist focused on Arab and Muslim issues. Named one of the “150 Fearless Women of 2015” by Newsweek magazine, she is fierce in her fight against Islamophobia, violence against women, and control on women’s sexuality, and many other human rights issues. Her Twitter account is an excellent resource for  women’s rights activists and their supporters who are looking for incisive feminist commentary.

Twitter Follow Recommendation 7: Nighat Dad (@nighatdad) – Pakistan

Nighat Dad is the Executive Director of the NGO, Digital Rights Foundation in Pakistan. She is an accomplished lawyer and a human rights activist. She works at a policy level on a wide range of issues like Internet Freedom, Women and technology, Digital Security and Women’s empowerment. Ms. Dad was included in Next Generation Leaders List by TIME’s magazine for her work on helping women fight online harassment in 2015 and was awarded the Dutch government’s Human Rights Tulip awards last year.

Twitter Follow Recommendation 8: Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women (@OCTEVAW) – Canada

OCTEVAW is a nonprofit, non-partisan coalition of organisations working in the areas of feminism, anti-racism, and LGBTQ+ rights with the aim of ending gender-based violence. Its work ranges from advocacy to public education to movement-building. It does so by closing down the gaps between frontline service providers, policy makers, and the justice system via collaborating to address problems, develop educational programmes, and serve the community through political action and advocacy. Their Twitter account is a useful resource for survivors to find crisis helpline numbers and for updates on the anti-gender-based violence work of the various members of this coalition.

Twitter Follow Recommendation 9: PCVC (@pcvc2000) – India

PCVC is a nonprofit service provider for women in India who are affected by violence. They offer a wide range of services to survivors, including crisis management, legal advocacy, support and resource services. Their mission is to help rebuild lives damaged by abusive family relationships. They do so by facilitating the process of self-empowerment for women survivors of family violence. PCVC’s Twitter account regularly posts news updates related to incidents of VAW across the country, about their crisis helpline numbers and their anti-VAW work with the survivors.

Twitter Follow Recommendation 10: Rashi Vidyasagar (@mizarcle) – India

Rashi Vidyasagar is a criminologist by education and feminist crisis interventionist by training. She has provided emergency psycho-social support to survivors of sexual and domestic violence and has worked with both the Indian health and the criminal justice system to make them more survivor-centric. At present, she leads multiple teams of social workers across states who provide psycho-socio-legal support to survivors of violence in police stations. On Twitter, she talks about the role of the state in responding to and preventing violence against women and connects women asking for help with organisations who can provide help.

Twitter Follow Recommendation 11: SAFE Ireland (@SAFEIreland) – Ireland

SAFE Ireland is the national social change agency working to end domestic violence in Ireland through the use of innovative and strategic methods to transform society’s response to cases of gender-based violence. While it started out as a network of service providers, SAFE now works in close collaboration with with forty domestic violence services across communities in the country. SAFE’s Twitter account has updates about its various anti-VAW activities and useful information from other anti-VAW organisations.

Twitter Follow Recommendation 12: Sisters Uncut (@sistersglasgow) – Scotland

Sisters Uncut is a feminist group standing united with all self-identified women against domestic violence and all the other types of violence they undergo on an everyday basis. It strongly believes that safety is not a privilege and focuses on women having to live in domestic abuse situations. It is an intersectional feminist organisation and understands that every woman’s experience of violence is affected by her race, class, disability, sexuality and immigration status. Sisters Uncut’s Twitter account focuses on tweeting out informative posts on its anti-VAW work in the form of interactive posters as well as updates from various other anti-VAW organisations.

Twitter Follow Recommendation 13: The Establishment (@ESTBLSHMNT) – United States of America

The Establishment is an intersectional feminist media publishing platform that is funded and run by women. It publishes new articles everyday on various topics relevant to women including violence against women, sexuality, society, among others. The Establishment’s Twitter timeline is updated daily with new content covering feminist topics that are of interest for feminists and anyone who is interested in women’s human and civil rights issues.


Twitter Follow Recommendation 14: The Kering Foundation (@KeringForWomen) – International

The Kering Foundation works to combat violence against women in three different areas of the world: the Americas, Western Europe and Asia. It structures its work around three key aspects: supporting NGOs, awarding social entrepreneurs and organising awareness campaigns. Their Twitter account posts regular updates about cases of violence against women around the world and the efforts of various organisations to combat the violence.


Twitter Follow Recommendation 15: The Tempest (@WeAreTheTempest) – United States of America

The Tempest is a technology and media publishing platform by and for diverse millennial women, with a reach of millions of millennials per month. They ‘empower, disrupt, and amplify’ all at once. It was started with the aim of filling the gaps in the popular narrative about lives of diverse women belonging to underrepresented backgrounds. The Tempest’s Twitter account has updates not only about its various insightful articles and news, but also relevant content from other organisations concerning issues affecting women and girls.

Twitter Follow Recommendation 16:  Wear Your Voice (@WearYourVoice) – United States of America

Wear Your Voice Magazine is an American intersectional feminist media publication whose mission is to deconstruct mainstream media’s approach to news and culture through an intersectional feminist point of view. It covers a wide range of issues like women’s human rights, LGBTQIA rights, race and gender, body politics, sex, and entertainment. It publishes and writes about violence against People of Colour (POC) in general and Women of Colour (WOC) in particular. Its Twitter account is a helpful go-to for reading their articles as well as relevant information and articles from other publications about the issues that they cover.


Photo Credits:

  1. Mona Eltahawy: From “Mona Eltahawy’s sexual revolution manifesto for Arab women” (rightnow.org)
  2. Nighat Dad: From https://twitter.com/nighatdad
  3. Rashi Vidyasagar: Courtesy of Rashi Vidyasagar

The Pixel Project Selection 2017: 16 Male Role Models Helping to Stop Violence against Women

Violence Against Women (VAW) is largely deemed as a women’s issue to be tackled by women and for women. However, VAW has a negative impact on entire communities and societies and is therefore impossible to eradicate without having men and boys on board efforts to do so. For this year’s 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence campaign, we present our second edition of  ’16 Male Role Models Helping to Stop Violence Against Women’ which features a diverse list of men who are doing their bit towards a more gender-equal world.

The men in this list believe that ending VAW is a fight and issue that should involve everyone and not just women. Many of these men are activists who have recognised that toxic masculinity and patriarchy are harmful to young boys and men. They are working directly with boys and men to empower them in order to prevent VAW from the roots. The list also looks at men who have spoken up against VAW through various mediums like demonstrations and music, using their voice to show their solidarity and bring issues of gender-based violence to the forefront. In this post-Weinstein world where so many prominent men have been revealed as domestic abusers and sexual predators, we hope our second edition of 16 male role models against violence against women will provide living examples of positive masculinity that inspire and galvanise men and boys worldwide to become a part of the solution.

It’s time to stop violence against women. Together.

Note: Information for all role model profiles is sourced via online research and is based on one or more news sources, articles and/or The Pixel Project’s own interviews with them. The main articles/reports from which these profiles have been sourced can be directly accessed via the hyperlinked titles. Please do click through to learn more about these remarkable men.

Written, researched, and compiled by Rubina Singh.


Male Role Model #1: Ahmed Hegab – Egypt
After witnessing a young woman being assaulted by a mob of men on the street, Ahmed Hegab knew he had to do something. Speaking to USA Today, Ahmed shares, “I decided right there and then to quit my job and do everything I could to stop harassment.” Ahmed started volunteering with Harassmap and also started Men Engage, a program that trains men to stop gender-based violence and raise their voices for women’s empowerment.

Male Role Model #2: Ali Erkazan – Turkey
After the murder and attempted rape of a university student, Ali Erkazan, a Turkish actor, along with a number of other men expressed their anger through a public demonstration. The men dressed in mini-skirts to show their solidarity and demanded harsher punishment for VAW. Demanding stricter laws, Ali shares, “The absence of deterrent laws encourages them. Even the people in the government make incentive statements about the inequality of men and women under the name of Islam. We also condemn them.

Male Role Model #3: Chris Green – United Kingdom
Chris Green is the Director of the White Ribbon Campaign in the UK. The White Ribbon Campaign encourages men and boys to speak up against VAW. Chris is also a member of the UK End Violence Against Women Expert Advisory Group and the End Violence against Women Prevention Working Party. For his notable efforts, Chris has been awarded one of the highest honours in the UK – Order of the British Empire.

Male Role Model #4: Dean Peacock – South Africa
Ashoka fellow Dean Peacock is challenging gender inequality in South Africa by engaging men and boys in the fight against VAW. Dean is the Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director of Sonke Gender Justice Network, which works to strengthen government, civil society and citizen capacity to support men and boys to take action to promote gender equality, prevent domestic and sexual violence, and reduce the spread and impact of HIV and AIDS. Dean is also the Co-Founder and Co-Chair of the MenEngage Alliance and a member of the UN Secretary General’s Network of Men Leaders.

Male Role Model #5: Dr. Ganesh Rakh – India
In a country where girls face GBV even before they are born, Dr. Ganesh Rakh is doing his part to ensure that girls at least get a fighting chance. Noting the high rate of female feticide and infanticide, Ganesh initiated a campaign “Mulgi Vachva Abhiyan” (Save the Girl Child) in his city. While most doctors increase their fees over time, Ganesh decided that he would not charge any fee from the family if a girl child was born. Not only that, his hospital also celebrates the birth of every girl child. His ultimate aim: “I want to change attitudes – of people, doctors. The day people start celebrating a daughter’s birth, I’ll start charging my fee again.”

Male Role Model #6: Edgar Ramirez – Venezuela
Edgar Ramirez is an actor, producer, and activist from Venezuela. As a HeForShe advocate, he spoke about the impact that gender inequality has on boys and men, “In the journey for equality, women and men are like two strands of DNA wrapped together in an embrace. Our burdens are as intertwined as our common destiny. The constraints that burden me will eventually burden you. And the same is true in reverse: as long as you are burdened, I am too. By recognizing this inter-dependence, I can work for your well-being and know that I am also working towards my own. I can know that whatever action I take to free you, also frees me. This is not just what makes us human. This is what makes us a human family.

Male Role Model #7: Fang Gang – China
Fang Gang is the Director of the Institute of Sexuality and Gender Study at the Beijing Forestry University. He is also the Director of the China White Ribbon Volunteers Network. Through his work, Fang Gang is attempting to reduce the taboo around sexuality, and challenge accepted norms of masculinity in China. Sharing his views in an interview with Vice, Fang said, “I want to encourage men to be involved in promoting gender equality, including taking care of children, sharing housework, and fighting against job discrimination. In the past our work focused on people who committed violence and their victims, now we want to go back further and target regular people, asking what we should do to prevent men from committing violence in the first place.”

Male Role Model #8: Feđa Mehmedović – Bosnia and Herzegovina
Feđa Mehmedović is the Project Coordinator with the XY Association and winner of a competition promoting gender equality in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Stories of Real Men. Hecworks with men and boys to change their attitude and behaviour towards VAW. He has trained more than 10,000 young people as part of his Young Men as Allies programme in preventing violence against women. Feđa is also an advocate for the UN HeForShe campaign.

Male Role Model #9: Gary Barker – Brazil
Involving men and boys in the fight against VAW is imperative and Gary Barker has been doing just that through his organisation, Promundo. His work has been recognised by organisations such as Ashoka and the United Nations. Explaining the philosophy behind Promundo, Gary shared the following insights in an interview: “We believed, from our direct experiences in working in violence prevention in favelas in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, that we would only end violence and achieve equality if we engaged men as allies, as voices for change, and as activists in the process. We were also inspired by young and adult men who wanted to be part of the movement and who were already living out equitable, non-violent ways of being men.

Male Role Model #10: Jim C. Hines – USA
Jim C. Hines is a Hugo-award winning American Fantasy writer who has been doing his bit to end sexism in the science fiction/fantasy world. He noticed that many science-fiction and fantasy cover art overtly sexualies female characters. In an effort to bring attention to the issue, he decided to contort himself into the various poses that women are put into. But, his efforts go much beyond gender-flipped covers. After he found out about a friend’s rape, he decided to work towards ending VAW in different ways. He has previously worked as a crisis counsellor, written articles and a novel around VAW, and he is also one of the only authors whose website has an entire section dedicated to resources for survivors of rape and sexual assault. Jim has also actively supported The Pixel Project by being a part of our campaigns such as Read for Pixels.

Male Role Model #11: Michael Flood – Australia
Holding a PhD in Gender and Sexuality Studies, Michael Flood researches masculinity and violence prevention. His research indicates that a man’s understanding of masculinity can lead to VAW. In an interview with Huffington Post Australia, he says, “It’s very clear that if we compare the men that do use violence and the men that don’t, one key difference is in their ideas about being a man. Men (who) use violence are much more likely to be invested in the idea to be a man is to be in control, dominant and have power over women. Those ideas about masculinity link to broader patterns of gender inequality. And really, it’s gender inequality that shapes some men’s use of violence against women.

Male Role Model #12: Noel Cabangon – The Philippines
Music has the power to reach any corner of the world. Noel Cabangon, a Filipino singer and songwriter, used the power of music through his song Men Move to encourage men to “bring all violence against women to an end”. The song was originally written for the Philippine Commission of Women and was later adapted for the UN Secretary-General’s UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign.

Male Role Model #13: Nur Hasyim – Indonesia
While he has been working for women’s rights for many years, in 2006, Nur Hasyim started working towards engaging men and boys to end VAW. He is the founder and head of ‘Aliansi Laki-Laki Baru’ (New Men Alliance) in Indonesia, a national pro-feminist men’s movement. His research in the field has led to the development of a curriculum towards behaviour change for male abusive partners. Recognising his work, Nur has been included by the United Nations in the Secretary General’s Network of Men Leaders.

Male Role Model #14: Ravi Karkara – United States of America and Worldwide
Ravi Karkara is Senior Advisor on Strategic Partnerships and Advocacy to the Assistant Secretary General to the UN and Deputy Executive Director, UN Women. Ravi has been fighting to end violence against women since the beginning of his career. Not only is he working with women, he also believes in the importance of working with men to end VAW. Ravi shared his views on working with boys and men in a recent interview: “While we need to teach women and girls how to fight for their human rights, we also need to focus on boys and change their attitudes towards girls and women.

Male Role Model #15: Salif Keita – Mali
Popularly known as the “Golden Voice of Africa”, Salif Keita has been using his art for activism. A vocal supporter of women’s rights, he has endorsed the UN HeforShe campaign as well. In a message for the campaign, Salif said, “The world is undergoing change and modernization in the right direction, and for every man who recognises the value and role of women, we must be sensitised to act for their well-being.”

Male Role Model #16: William Gay – United States of America
As a young boy, NFL Star William Gay lost his mother because of domestic violence. Having felt the impact of VAW so closely, William understands the need to end VAW. While William found professional success with NFL, he wanted to use his star power to shine a light on gender-based violence. Among many other initiatives, William supports the Women’s Center and Shelter in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. He uses his time at the shelter to speak to the survivors and share his story. In an interview with People Magazine, he shared, “I want people out there to know that someone in the NFL has been that child who lost their mother and is willing to do anything to end domestic violence.


Photo Credits:

  1. Ahmed Hegab – from Linkedin.com
  2. Ali Erkazan – From Alticine.com
  3. Chris Green – From “Parliaments United In Combating Domestic Violence Against Women” (Council of Europe)
  4. Dean Peacock – From “Sonke Gender Justice”
  5. Dr. Ganesh Rakh – From “Ganesh Rakh: The doctor who delivers India’s girls for free” (Anushree Fadnavis/BBC News)
  6. Edgar Ramirez – From “Edgar Ramirez, Emma Watson use star power to push for gender equality at UN event” (Rob Kim/Fox News)
  7. Fang Gang – From “Fang Gang: Sex Education Should be Implemented Early” (Chinese Women’s Research Network)
  8. Feđa Mehmedović – From “Stories of Real Men – Feđa Mehmedović”
  9. Gary Barker – From “Network of Men Leaders” (UNiTE)
  10. Jim C. Hines – Courtesy of Jim C. Hines
  11. Michael Flood – From “Is ‘Engaging Men’ the Game Changer for Gender Equality” (Annual Diversity Debate)
  12. Noel Cabangon – From “Noel Cabangon ‘inspired’ by Pope Francis visit” (The Philippine Star)
  13. Nur Hasyim – From “World Press Freedom Day 2017” (UNESCO)
  14. Ravi Karkara – From “Meet the People Extraordinaire – Ravi Karkara” (Sayfty)
  15. Salif Keita – From “Salif Keita – The “Golden Voice of Africa”
  16. William Gay – From NFL star reveals heartbreaking moment he came home from school to discover his mother shot dead by his stepdad in murder-suicide

Transforming Personal Pain Into Positive Action: The Pixel Project’s 16 Female Role Models 2017

Today is the first day of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence 2017 campaign and The Pixel Project is kicking things off with our 6th annual list of 16 female role models fighting to end violence against women in their communities. The intent of this list is simple: to highlight the good work of the heroines of the movement to end violence against women wherever they are in the world. The women and girls in this year’s list hail from 15 countries and 6 continents.

Many of these outstanding women and girls have shown that it is possible to transform personal pain that came out of facing gender-based violence, into positive action to stop violence against women, empower themselves and to show other survivors that it is possible to move forward with dignity and happiness. They have refused to let bitterness and pain get the better of them, opting to stand up for themselves and for other women and girls instead.

Others on this list may not have experienced gender-based violence inflicted on themselves but they have stepped up to do what is right: to speak up for women and girls who cannot do it for themselves, sometimes at great personal risk. All this requires immense courage, generosity of spirit and a strong, enduring heart.

Without further ado, here in alphabetical order by first name is our 2017 list of 16 female role models. We hope that these women would be an inspiration to others to get involved with the cause. To that end, we hope you will generously share this list via Facebook and Twitter to give these extraordinary 16 women and their work a moment in the sun.

It’s time to stop violence against women. Together.

Note: Information for all role model profiles is sourced via online research and is based on one or more news sources, articles and/or The Pixel Project’s own interviews with them. The main articles/reports from which these profiles have been sourced can be directly accessed via the hyperlinked titles. Please do click through to learn more about these remarkable women.

Written and compiled by Regina Yau


Female Role Model 1: Ana Salvá – Spain

Bangkok-based Spanish freelance journalist Ana Salva arrived in Southeast Asia in 2014, eventually focusing on reporting about violence against women in Cambodia. In 2016, she began investigating the crime of forced marriage and forced pregnancy under the Khmer Rouge regime and its impact on the mental and physical health of women. This resulted in an incisive article published by The Diplomat – “The Forced Pregnancies of the Khmer Rouge”. She said: “The international criminal laws continue to lack [interest] to address gender crimes that have impacted women worldwide. And for forced pregnancy, a lot of cases are forgotten. No international courts have pursued forced pregnancy to date. That is the problem for the future too, I think.”

Female Role Model 2: Anuja Gupta – India

Anuja Gupta is one of India’s leading experts on the issue of incest/child sexual abuse. In 1996, at a time when no one in the country was talking about this taboo subject, Anuja started the non-profit RAHI Foundation, India’s first incest/child sexual abuse response organisation. RAHI’s work has laid the foundation for this issue to come to light and continues to shape the way it is addressed in the country. Anuja said: “Everyone has to make violence against women and children their issue and I think the strongest action we can take is to not lose momentum regardless of our social or political contexts. No matter how far away it may seem, always keep an eye on the goal of a world free of violence.”

Female Role Model 3: Carrie Goldberg – United States of America

Carrie Goldberg is a pioneer in the field of sexual privacy who uses her legal expertise and the law to defend victims of revenge porn and other forms of cyber violence against women. The impetus for starting her own firm to tackle the issue of online sexual privacy and harassment came when she was harassed by a vengeful ex who threatened to send intimate pictures she’d given him to her professional colleagues. Today, her law firm, C.A. Goldberg, PLLC focuses on Internet privacy and abuse, domestic violence, and sexual consent. Goldberg is also a Board Member and Volunteer Attorney at the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative and its End Revenge Porn campaign.

Female Role Model 4: Daisy Coleman – United States of America

Daisy Coleman was 14 when she was raped and left on her family’s front lawn in the small town where she grew up, enduring a backlash from the townsfolk who subjected her to intense victim-blaming, cyberbullying, and slut-shaming. Today, Coleman is an anti-sexual assault activist and co-founder of SafeBAE (Safe Before Anyone Else) to help prevent sexual violence and educate young people in the U.S. about the issue and to stand together with teen sex assault victims. As part of her work, she also appeared in Netflix’s documentary Audrie & Daisy about her experience.

Female Role Model 5: Hera Hussain – Pakistan and the United Kingdom

Hera Hussain is the founder of Chayn, a UK-based open source gender and tech project that builds platforms, toolkits, and runs hackathons to empower women facing violence and the organisations supporting them. Chayn’s resources and services include pro bono work for anti-violence against women organisations as well as a groundbreaking toolkit for women who want to build their own Domestic Violence case is so valuable to women who cannot afford legal representation. She says: “Tech gives us the chance to reach a wide audience on shoe-string budget and enable those women who are looking to understand what is happening to them and what to do about it.”

Female Role Model 6: Karla Jacinto – Mexico

Karla Jacinto was lured into forced prostitution at the age of 12 by a human trafficker who offered her money, gifts and the promise of a better life. By age 16, she estimates that she had been raped 43,200 times as she was forced to service up to 30 men a day daily for four years. Karla was rescued in 2008 as part of an anti-trafficking operation in Mexico City and is now fighting back against Mexico’s human trafficking crisis by raising awareness of how the criminals work so potential victims can spot red flags.

Female Role Model 7: Kerstin Weigl – Sweden

Kerstin Weigl is a journalist who has been awarded the “Lukas Bonnier´s Grand  Prize for Journalism” for her unique study of all the women who have died in Sweden as a result of violence in close relationships during the 2000s. The investigation was undertaken together with Kristina Edblom, for the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet, uncovering and reporting the stories of 267 women since the series began. Kerstin is also the co-founder of Cause of Death: Woman, an investigative report on violence against women the US, South Africa, Egypt, Sweden, Pakistan, Mexico, Brazil, Congo, Spain and Russia.

Female Role Model 8: Malebogo Malefhe – Botswana

In 2009, Malebogo Malefhe was shot eight times by her boyfriend, putting her in a wheelchair for life. Malefhe, a former basketball player for Botswana’s national team, has devoted herself to fighting domestic violence in her native Botswana and combatting culturally-ingrained victim-blaming by teaching women that it is not their fault when men hurt them. She told NPR: “I tell women to look at the signs while they still have the time. Walk out while they still have the chance. […] I tell women that every time a crime is perpetrated, they should report it. […] Women need education to open them up to the realisation that abuse is prevalent and they need to find ways to overcome it.

Female Role Model 9: Marijana Savic, Serbia

In 2004, Marijana Savic founded Atina as part of the response of “the women’s movement in Serbia to the problem of human trafficking, and non-existence of adequate programmes of long-term support for the victims and help in their social inclusion”. Atina became the first safehouse for victims of trafficking in the country and provides comprehensive support for survivors of violence, exploitation and human trafficking in Serbia. Marijana said: “A person who survived violence needs more than accommodation. […] A right solution for many women is to get support from the community, to understand why the violence is happening, to have full support in safe place, which does not always have to be a safe house.”

Female Role Model 10: Paradise Sourori – Afghanistan

Paradise Sourori is Afghanistan’s first female rapper. Over the last eight years, she has had to flee her country twice, received numerous threats of rape, death, and acid attacks as well as being brutally beaten by 10 men on the street – all because she refuses to stop singing about the gender-based violence and injustices suffered by Afghan women. “[The police] told me I should stop singing,” says Paradise. “That’s when I knew that if I stayed silent, nothing would change.” Today she has resettled in Berlin, Germany and continues to make her music to champion Afghan women.

Female Role Model 11: Ronelle King – Barbados

Ronelle King is a rape and sexual assault survivor who had enough of the nonchalant cultural and social attitude towards violence against women and girls in Barbados. She “had the idea to start a hashtag that would create a forum for Caribbean women to share their daily experiences of sexual harassment and abuse” and so the #LifeInLeggings hashtag and movement was born. The movement has spread rapidly throughout the Caribbean region, The National Women’s Commission of Belize supports the group and UN Women has partnered with them to assist with regional projects.

Female Role Model 12:  Saida Ali – Kenya

Saida Ali was 16 when her older sister fled back to her family home after being assaulted by her husband. Ali helped her sister leave the abusive marriage and that was the start of her lifelong commitment to stopping violence against women. Today, Saida is the executive director of Kenya’s Coalition on Violence Against Women, taking on domestic violence and rape cases across Kenya. Her campaign, Justice for Liz, was waged on behalf of a schoolgirl who was raped and left for dead. The campaign garnered international media attention and the perpetrators were eventually jailed.

Female Role Model 13: Samra Zafar – United Arab Emirates and Canada

Samra Zafar arrived in Canada as a 16-year-old bride in an arranged marriage to an abusive husband who beat, controlled, and raped her. Determined to escape her marriage, she managed to squirrel away a few hundred dollars now and then even though her husband forced her to give up her earnings to him. With her savings and multiple scholarships, she funded her education, earning Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Economics from the University of Toronto with the highest distinctions. Today, Samra is the founder of Brave Beginnings, an organisation dedicated to helping women rebuild their lives after oppression and abuse.

Female Role Model 14: Sharmin Akter – Bangladesh

Sharmin Akter was only 15 years old when her mother attempted to coerce her into marriage to a man decades older than her. However, instead of surrendering to family wishes, she spoke up to protest for her right to an education. In recognition of her courage, she was awarded the 2017 International Women of Courage Award from the US State Department. Sharmin is now studying at Jhalakathi Rajapur Pilot Girls High School to fulfil her goal to become a human rights lawyer fighting against the harmful tradition of forced marriages.

Female Role Model 15: Stephanie Harvey – Canada

Stephanie Harvey is a five-time world champion in competitive Counter-Strike, and longtime female pro-gaming icon. In her 16 years in e-Sports as a player and 7 years as a games developer, she has routinely pushed back and spoken out against toxic misogyny, sexism, and the chronic online harassment of female gamers that is endemic in the gaming world. As part of her activism, she co-founded MissCliks, a gaming community group currently focused on “recognising the under-representation of women as role models in geek and gaming culture, giving support and exposure to those female role models, and helping to create a culture of authenticity, advocacy, unity, and bravery.”

Female Role Model 16: Vera Baird – United Kingdom

Commissioner Dame Vera Baird is an outspoken advocate for stopping violence against women in her capacity as the police and crime commissioner for Northumbria. She has publicly spoken out against a judge who made victim-blaming comments regarding a rape case and was recently negotiating with local government officials in an attempt to stop the withdrawal of funding for women’s refuges in Sunderland. Prior to becoming a police commissioner, she was a lawyer who championed feminist protesters, took on pregnancy discrimination cases, and influenced law in domestic violence cases. Baird was made a Dame in December 2016 in recognition of her life-long fight for gender equality.


Photo Credits:

  1. Ana Salvá – From “Q&A: Journalist Ana Salvá on the Crimes of Forced Marriage and Forced Pregnancy Under the Khmer Rouge” (VOA Cambodia)
  2. Anuja Gupta – Courtesy of the RAHI Foundation
  3. Carrie Goldberg – From http://www.cagoldberglaw.com/team/carrie-goldberg/
  4. Daisy Coleman – Courtesy of Safebae.org
  5. Hera Hussain – Courtesy of Hera Hussain
  6. Karla Jacinto – From “Human Trafficking Survivor Karla Jacinto Was Raped 43,200 Times as a Teen, Now She’s Telling Her Story to Congress and the Pope” (Seventeen)
  7. Kerstin Weigl – From https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Kerstin_Weigl_2015-11-06_001.jpg
  8. Malebogo Malefhe – From “Shot By Her Boyfriend And Now Using A Wheelchair, She Found A ‘New Me’” (Ryan Eskalis/NPR)
  9. Marijana Savic – From “Four women’s rights activists you need to know” (Atina/UNFPA)
  10. Paradise Sorouri – From “Afghanistan’s first female rapper: ‘If I stay silent, nothing will change’” (Eliot Stein/The Guardian)
  11. Ronelle King – From https://www.youtube.com/user/purehazeleyes
  12. Saida Ali – From “The Activist Taking On Patriarchy To End Domestic Violence In Kenya” (The Huffington Post)
  13. Samra Zafar – From “The Good Wife” (Luis Mora/Toronto Life)
  14. Sharmin Akter – From “Fighting Early Marriage: Bangladeshi girl to receive US award” (The Daily Star)
  15. Stephanie Harvey – Courtesy of Stephanie Harvey
  16. Vera Baird – From “Northumbria Police boss Vera Baird made a Dame in New Year’s Honours list” (www.chroniclelive.co.uk)