The Pixel Project Selection 2017: 16 Of The Pixel Project’s Best Interview Articles

For almost 9 years, The Pixel Project has worked at the intersection of social media, pop culture, the arts, journalism, activism and new technologies to shine a light on the the many ways violence against women (VAW) affects the lives of women and girls in communities and cultures worldwide.

Blogging is one of the major pillars of our social media-driven awareness-raising and educational work. More than any other social media platforms that we use, blogging empowers us to present in-depth articles, op-eds and interviews that go beyond the soundbites. As we grew as an anti-VAW organisation, we have gradually focused our blogging efforts on interviews to help activists, allies and survivors tell their stories and share their ideas with others first-hand.

In 2017, we marched on with our annual interview-format blogging campaigns:

Together, these interviews form an inspirational tapestry of ideas, stories and calls-to-action from remarkable individuals, communities and allies that are at the front lines of bringing the change that is so desperately needed to end VAW.

If you have missed any of our blog interview campaigns this year or are new to The Pixel Project’s work, this selection of this year’s 16 best Pixel Project blog interview articles of 2017 will be a great starting point. We hope that the stories we shared motivate you to join the effort to end VAW.

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

Written and compiled by Regina Yau. Introduction by Regina Yau.

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Pixel Project Blog Interview Selection #1: Inspirational Interview – 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 pioneering 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 says: “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.”

Pixel Project Blog Interview Selection #2: Inspirational Interview – Brynhildur Heiðar- og Ómarsdóttir, Iceland

Brynhildur manages the Icelandic Women’s Rights Association (IWRA) which was founded in 1907 and works towards increasing women‘s representation in parliament and the judicial system, combating gendered wage inequality, making gender studies a mandatory subject in secondary schools and raising awareness about harassment and violence against women online. Brynhildur says: “ We need to speak out forcefully against violence of any kind, and we need to teach our children about gender equality and human rights in schools. Most importantly, we need to support the victims of violence, to ensure that survivors have easy access to psychological and legal aid. But we also need to find ways to rehabilitate perpetrators of violence, to incorporate them into society while making sure that they do not re-offend. Violence against women is such a massive social problem that it can only be solved by all of us, together.

 

Pixel Project Blog Interview Selection #3: Gaming For Pixels Interview – Hyacinth Nil and Reed Lewis, USA

Hyacinth Nil and Reed Lewis are the co-founders of Abyssal Uncreations. Hyacinth Nil is a nonbinary interactive artist, musician and game maker from New York. Reed Lewis is a nonbinary novelist from New York. They are purveyors of dark media with a purpose, creators of multifaceted narratives meant to simultaneously unnerve and shine a light on issues of identity, queerness, gender, neurodivergence and other themes they’d like to see more of in media they consume. _transfer is their first video game. When discussing how gamers can stop violence against women and girls, Reed notes that “the most basic thing that can be done, especially for male gamers, is to call out misogyny when they spot it, and be honest with themselves when they say or think misogynistic things.  Don’t allow gaming culture to be a misogynistic culture, and don’t let gamers’ spaces be spaces where violence against women is joked about, dismissed or encouraged.”

Pixel Project Blog Interview Selection #4: Gaming For Pixels Interview – Ian Gregory, Singapore

Ian Gregory is the co-founder and creative director of Witching Hour Studios, which created the award-winning MASQUERADA. In 2010, his second year at university, Ian co-founded Witching Hour Studios with some friends. Six years on, Witching Hour has garnered awards and international recognition for their line of Ravenmark games and the off-kilter Romans in My Carpet!. Its latest title, Masquerada: Songs and Shadows, was successfully funded on Kickstarter. When talking about how gamers can help stop violence against women and girls in the gaming community, Ian says: “Talk about it: the conversation must be had; discomfort must be felt. A good cause to make everyone feel good for being involved is only one half of the solution. We need to actually talk about these uncomfortable things in the light. Hopefully, this will be catharsis to victims and call out abusers regarding their behaviour. Many victims are too afraid to voice their suffering, and surprisingly, many abusers are unaware of their actions. By putting the topic front and centre, both parties might find a way out of this horrible cycle.”

Pixel Project Blog Interview Selection #5: Inspirational Interview – Karin Alfredsson, Sweden

Karin’s engagement in the cause of violence against women began in 1979 when she published the first nonfiction book about violence against women in Sweden. She has worked on many journalistic projects covering the issue. In 2012, Karin launched the international Cause of Death: Woman project, covering different aspects of VAW in 10 countries. Karin has also written five crime novels about violence against women in different parts of the world and was recognised by the Swedish Crime Literature Academy several times. Karin says ending violence against women “is a matter of gender equality. The day men start to respect women, our choices and right to live our own lives, then things will start to happen. This means that we will have to start with the small boys. Legislation is fine, but if we are not working to change attitudes, very little will happen.”

Pixel Project Blog Interview Selection #6: Inspirational Interview – Lesley Ackrill, Canada

Lesley Ackrill is one of three executive co-directors at Interval House, Canada’s first shelter for abused women and their children. Lesley directs Resource Development and Communications, Human Resources and the Residential and Community Programs. During her tenure at Interval House, she produced the only television fundraising campaign ever made for a women’s shelter. Alongside her co-director, Lesley led Interval House through its $5 million capital campaign that purchased and renovated Interval House’s current facility.  Lesley says: “I think equity is a big step forward in helping end violence against women. When women take their rightful place as leaders in all spheres of our lives and all dominions—corporate boardroom, government, family—when they take the 50/50 leadership on and share it equally with men, I think we will have a huge step forward in ending violence against women by men. That is on a macro level – on a big scale.”

Pixel Project Blog Interview Selection #7: Survivor Stories Interview – Lisa Foster, USA

Lisa Foster survived child sexual abuse by her father and went on to found parillume to empower victims of sexual violation to continue past the survivor stage and heroically reclaim the treasure of their trues selves shining in the world without shame. Lisa’s advice to victims and survivors is: “The first step is finding a safe person to share your story with who can also help you find the recovery resource that works best for you. If you can’t afford therapy, there may be a non-profit that can provide you the support you need. Just begin. Read books, watch videos, check out the parillume website. Begin to feel and move through the pain and know that there is a fierce hope available to you. You are worth it.”

Pixel Project Blog Interview Selection #8: Inspirational Interview – Madeleine Rees, OBE, United Kingdom

Madeleine Rees, OBE is a lawyer specialising in discrimination law and women’s rights. From 1998 to 2006, she ran the OHCHR in Bosnia and Herzegovina and moved to Geneva in 2006 to head up their gender unit, moving on in 2010 to become the Secretary General of The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF). She was awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2014 for services to human rights, particularly women’s rights, and international peace and security. Madeleine says: “[Violence against women] will end only when violence is stigmatised by men as well as by women, which means we have to work on that fundamental shift in power, what it is, how works and for whom. We have to move away from a system which needs and feeds off the creation of a masculinity which is prepared to do violence.”

Pixel Project Blog Interview Selection #9: Survivor Stories Interview – Martha Wells, USA

Martha Wells is a science fiction and fantasy writer whose first novel was published in 1993.  Her most recent series are The Books of the Raksura for Night Shade Books, and The Murderbot Diaries for Tor.com.  She has also written short stories, media tie-ins for Star Wars and Stargate: Atlantis, YA fantasies, and non-fiction. She survived being stalked by a former male friend in college who threatened to kill her. Martha says: “I think education, especially about consent, starting as early as possible, can help a lot.  Teach kids to respect each other as people, teach boys that girls are not somehow less deserving of bodily autonomy than they are.”

Pixel Project Blog Interview Selection #10: Gaming For Pixels Interview – Michelle Tan, Malaysia

Michelle Tan is the founder and CEO of Fundeavour – a social platform looking to improve the lives of gamers worldwide, including YouTubers, streamers and content creators. Through a combination of Facebook, LinkedIn and Coursera-style elements, the platform empowers its gamers to build relationships with other gamers, work with brands, gain more exposure and learn how to transform their passions into a potential career. Michelle says: “I honestly think the strongest form of support an individual gamer can lend [to stopping violence against women] at the moment is by actively “living” it themselves – by treating their female friends with respect the way they’d want to be treated, especially in-game, and advocating it to others who aren’t being kind. Breaking the cycle of stigma has got to be a concerted effort, but it has to first begin at the individual level with friends and family.”

Pixel Project Blog Interview Selection #11: Survivor Stories Interview – PC Cast, USA

Award-winning #1 NY Times and #1 USA Today bestselling author PC Cast is a survivor of rape. With more than 20 million books in print in over 40 countries, she writes multiple bestselling YA series. PC is a member of the Oklahoma Writers Hall of Fame. PC says: “The only way we can end violence against women is to end the patriarchy. As long as men rule – in politics, in corporate America, in positions of power – women will continue to be abused because MEN ARE NOT MADE TO FACE THE CONSEQUENCES OF THEIR ACTIONS. Over and over again the media shows us examples of men who are convicted of rape, only to receive mere slaps on the wrist because their lives could be ruined. THEY SHOULD BE. The Good Ol’ Boys’ club is alive and thriving, especially with Trump as President. Men don’t hold each other accountable for their bad behaviour, so women must. Until more women are in power this ideology will continue.”

Pixel Project Blog Interview Selection #12: Inspirational Interview – Pragna Patel, United Kingdom

Pragna Patel has trained in law and has more than 35 years of experience in advocacy, policy and campaigning work with some of the most marginalised women in British society. She has been at the forefront of key case and campaigning milestones throughout the history of Southall Black Sisters (SBS) and was a founding member of the pioneering Women Against Fundamentalism. She also has written extensively on race, gender and religion. Pragna says: “Ending violence against women for good is a tall order but not beyond us if there is political will, courage and imagination. Violence against women is both a cause and consequence of gender inequality and so our aim must be to tackle gender inequality at all levels in all communities. This will involve working in solidarity with others.”

Pixel Project Blog Interview Selection #13: Gaming For Pixels  Interview – Sig Gunnarsson

Sig Gunnarsson is the co-founder, gamer designer and art director of Studio Wumpus. Brooklyn-based Studio Wumpus is the acclaimed developers of Sumer – a digital board game inspired by M.U.L.E. and the Epic of Gilgamesh. Sumer draws on modern Eurogame design elements like worker placement, territory control and auctions. Its unique innovation is to place these into an action video game. When discussing how gamers can help end violence against women and girls, Sig says: “Gamers are also parents and one good thing to keep in mind is to be mindful in how we raise our sons and daughters. We need to raise respectful individuals and talk to them about things like gender and equality. Gamers should also continue calling out sexism in games and keep asking for the types of games they want. Money is a great way to vote on the market. Buy the games you’d like to see more of and skip the games in which you don’t like the message.”

Pixel Project Blog Interview Selection #14: Gaming For Pixels Interview – Stephanie Harvey, Canada

Stephanie Harvey is the Co-Founder of Misscliks. A five-time world champion in competitive Counter-Strike and longtime female pro-gaming icon, Stephanie Harvey currently plays professionally for the all-female team CLG Red. She also worked as a game designer for Ubisoft Montreal, having notably been part of development for Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands and Far Cry Primal. Her 16 years in e-Sports as a player and 7 years in the industry as a developer awarded her a Forbes 30 under 30 title in 2014 and one of the BBC 100 women of 2016. When discussing how to tackle sexism and misogyny in gaming, she says: “I believe there is no perfect solution to harassment in gaming but I do believe there are multiple steps that we can do to help. For example, I believe that game companies need to be aware and provide tools for players to protect themselves from harassment. I also believe that online platforms such as Twitter, Twitch or YouTube could do a lot more more to help against harassment on their websites.”

Pixel Project Blog Interview Selection #15: Survivor Stories Interview – Trisha Williams, USA

Trisha Williams is a survivor of domestic violence, a Christian, a writer, and a wife, mother and grandmother dedicated to her community. Despite being diagnosed with a host of nerve conditions due to domestic violence, she leads a busy life. After leaving her job at the Department of Labour, Trisha reinvented herself and began a successful career in writing fiction; she has published 6 novellas and a Christian stage play for teens. Trisha recently became vice president of Purple Hightops N Stilettos, a group leading the fight against domestic violence based in Las Vegas. Trisha says: “Join and collaborate with other survivors and domestic violence organisations. If your community doesn’t offer one, start one. Americans need to keep writing to Congress to stay on top of domestic violence laws and provide funding for continued advocacy programmes.”

Pixel Project Blog Interview Selection #16: Survivor Stories Interview – Vanessa King, USA

Vanessa King, a survivor of domestic violence and founder of Queen Nefertiti Productions LLC, produces beauty pageants. She’s one of the first recipients of the Jewel Award and has appeared in “Who’s Who in Black Columbus” for exemplary work in her community. She’s also received recognition for community service from government officials. Vanessa says: “I want to tell other women and girls facing the same situation that they are not alone, they are beautiful and there are people who love them. It may be hard to get out of the situation, but there are resources, organisations and people who will help them not only get out of the situation, but also help them to start a new life without the violence. Speak out and let family and close friends know what is going on – don’t be silent. There are many people who will help. Make a plan to get away from your abuser.”

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Photo Credits:

  1. Anuja Gupta – Courtesy of RAHI Foundation
  2. Brynhildur Heiðar- og Ómarsdóttir – Courtesy of the Icelandic Women’s Rights Association
  3. Hyacinth Nil and Reed Lewis – Courtesy of Abyssal Uncreations
  4. Ian Gregory – Courtesy of Witching Hour Studios
  5. Karin Alfredsson – Courtesy of Karin Alfredsson
  6. Lesley Ackrill – Courtesy of Interval House
  7. Lisa Foster – Courtesy of Lisa Foster
  8. Madeleine Rees, OBE – Courtesy of The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)
  9. Martha Wells – Courtesy of Martha Wells, Photographer: Igor Kraguljac
  10. Michelle Tan – Courtesy of Fundeavour
  11. PC Cast – Courtesy of PC Cast
  12. Pragna Patel – Courtesy of Southall Black Sisters
  13. Sig Gunnarsson – Courtesy of Studio Wumpus
  14. Stephanie Harvey – Courtesy of Stephanie Harvey
  15. Trisha Williams – Courtesy of Trisha Williams
  16. Vanessa King – Courtesy of Vanessa King

The Pixel Project Selection 2017: 16 Striking Anti-Violence Campaigns for the Cause to End Violence Against Women

Every year, we at The Pixel Project come across a wide variety of innovative and powerful campaigns tackling Violence Against Women (VAW) by our fellow activists and non-profits from around the globe, and 2017 is no exception. With the power of the Internet, many of the campaigns featured in this year’s list had global outreach. The year began with a global Women’s March and is ending with multiple campaigns taking the #MeToo movement forward.

We acknowledge that anti-VAW campaigners put themselves in perilous situations to advocate for the safety of others and we are immeasurably grateful for their bravery. From women marching the streets to women combating harassment online, each and every action, large or small, counts.

So today, in honour of all VAW activists, nonprofits and grassroots groups who toil in such thankless situations to bring about positive change to the lives of women and girls facing violence, we present 16 of the most striking campaigns/programmes we have come across in the last year of our work.

What these campaigns have in common are:

  • The built-in “water-cooler” factor that gets the community buzzing about the campaign and, by extension, the issue of VAW.
  • A good sense of what works in and for the culture and community where the activist/nonprofit/grassroots group is trying to effect change.

We hope that these campaigns and initiatives inspire you to take action and get on board the cause to end VAW.

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

Written and compiled by Rubina Singh.

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Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #1: #Balancetonporc (Expose Your Pig) – France

Post the #MeToo movement, women in France have been using the hashtag #Balancetonporc or ‘Expose your pig’ to talk about sexual harassment by men in powerful positions. Created by French journalist Sandra Muller, many French women came forward online to share their experiences with sexual harassment and sexual abuse using the hashtag.

Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #2: Boxing against Gender-based Violence – Namibia

To raise awareness about gender-based violence and a new toll-free helpline, the Namibian boxing community organised a one-of-a-kind boxing match. Using mysterious names for the boxers, the match showed a large man in a boxing ring getting ready to fight against a smaller woman. The campaign garnered a lot of attention over social media and helped in promoting the toll-free helpline for victims of violence.

Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #3: Cheer Up Luv – United Kingdom

Photojournalist Eliza Hatch wanted to use her skills to shine a light on the high prevalence of sexual harassment against women in cities like London and she has achieved this through her photo series ‘Cheer Up Luv’. The campaign aims to document women who have experienced sexual harassment on any scale in a public setting. Women covered in the series share their stories of sexual harassment in their own words, taking ownership of the narrative around their experiences.

Francesca from Eliza Hatch on Vimeo.

Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #4: Criminal Minds Awareness Campaign – South Korea

To raise awareness about VAW, tvN’s South Korean remake of the popular American TV show Criminal Minds, along with the city of Seoul, initiated a joint anti-VAW campaign earlier this year. Through the campaign, the network and Seoul Metropolitan government inform citizens about Seoul’s women protection policies. The TV show is also set to showcase information about these policies in tandem with an online and on-ground awareness campaign.

Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #5: #Dearcatcallers – The Netherlands

Noa Jansma, a 20-year-old college student from Amsterdam who was fed up with daily instances of street harassment, decided to start a month-long campaign taking selfies with her harassers. Through her campaign called ‘Dear Catcallers’, Noa took selfies with almost everyone who harassed her on the streets during that one month in order to raise awareness about street harassment. Post-campaign, @Dearcatcallers has more than 350,000 followers on Instagram and Noa plans to share the handle with other women across the world, encouraging them to take the campaign forward.

Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #6: #DearSister – Egypt and Worldwide (Online)

Started by Egyptian journalist Mona Eltahawy, #DearSister came in response to incessant policing of Muslim women by random men. Targeting widespread sexism faced by many Muslim women, the campaign saw thousands of women sharing stories of men telling them how to dress or behave.

Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #7: Ending Violence Against Female Garment Workers – South and Southeast Asia

Global Fund for Women along with C&A Foundation and Gender at Work initiated a three-year long campaign to address VAW in the garment industry in South and Southeast Asia, particularly Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Myanmar and Vietnam. The campaign will strengthen existing organisations working to eliminate gender-based violence in the garment industry. Given that 80% of the employees in the industry are women, and at least half of them have encountered some form of abuse in their employment, this campaign is a much needed step in the right direction.

Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #8: Hunger Strike against Sexual Harassment Campaign – India

Fearful – and fed-up – of sexual harassment on their way school in a neighboring village, 13 teenage girls in India decided to go on a hunger strike. The students refused to eat food for eight days until the government finally intervened and assured the girls that their commute would be safe from now on. Thanks to their efforts, these girls will now have a secondary school in their village, allowing them to avoid a long commute for school and ensuring a safer learning environment for them.

Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #9: #Justice4her – Ghana

Following the rape of a four year old girl, Ghana witnessed large-scale public outcry to ensure that appropriate action was taken. Using the hashtag #Justice4her, campaigners were successful in facilitating the ordering of an investigation into the case. Prior to the campaign, local traditional leaders had refused to take action as ‘the community gods deemed the suspect innocent’. The campaign has also helped to raise $4000 towards reconstructive surgery for the child.

Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #10: #MeToo Movement – USA and Worldwide (Online)

Probably the most viral and widespread campaign of 2017, the #MeToo movement was officially started by activist Tarana Burke over a decade ago. However, this year, after multiple accusations of sexual assault were made against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, actress Alyssa Milano propelled the campaign to an unprecedented level, encouraging all women who have faced sexual abuse to use the hashtag. According to Facebook, within 24 hours of Alyssa Milano’s initial tweet, 4.7 million people from across the world engaged in the #metoo conversation.

Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #11: Miss Peru Pageant Highlights VAW Statistics – Peru

In a unique awareness campaign, contestants on the Miss Peru recited shocking statistics of violence against women rather than talking about their body measurements. The remainder of the pageant also focused on violence against women and utilised the opportunity to share this information with many viewers. Following the pageant, the contestants have also planned to hold a march in Lima to continue their efforts.

Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #12: #NoEsDesHombres – Mexico

UN Women and the Mexican Government collaborated on a unique campaign to address sexual harassment in public transport called #NoEsDesHombres (‘This isn’t manly’). As a part of the campaign, they placed a ‘penis seat’ on the Mexico City Metro and filmed reactions of commuters. The viral video was targeted at raising awareness about sexual harassment, particularly with men.

Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #13: #Undress522 – Lebanon

Lebanese artist Mireille Honein created an art installation featuring wedding dressing hanging by nooses in Beirut as part of a wider campaign #Undress522. The campaign targeted Article 522 which allowed a rapist to escape prosecution if he married the victim. Thanks to the art installation and the larger campaign, Article 522 was repealed in August 2017.

Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #14: “What Were You Wearing?” Art Exhibit – USA

Many women have experienced victim blaming in one form or another when it comes to incidents of VAW. One of the most common questions that women are asked is, “What were you wearing?” Highlighting the fact that clothing has no relevance when it comes to VAW, Jen Brockman, the director of KU’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Education Center, and Dr. Mary A. Wyandt-Hiebert, who oversees all programming initiatives at the University of Arkansas’ rape education center, curated an art exhibit showcasing various outfits that women were wearing when they faced sexual violence. The exhibit was on display in the University of Kansas this year and hopes to promote awareness about sexual violence and combat victim blaming.

Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #15: #White Wednesdays – Iran

To protest mandatory dress codes, Iranian women are sharing pictures of themselves in white headscarves or clothing using the hashtag #WhiteWednesdays. Hundreds of women have joined the campaign and hope that their public outcry brings some freedom from forced dress codes. The hashtag and an organisation opposed to the mandatory dress code, My Stealthy Freedom, were both started by Masih Alinejad.

Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #16: Women’s March – Worldwide

Initially a response to President Donald Trump’s win in the forty-fifth US Presidential Election, the women’s march became a global movement of women showing solidarity and standing together for women’s rights everywhere. With over five million protesters across the world, the Women’s March is now regarded as the single biggest protest in modern history.

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Photo Credits

  1. #DearSister – Photo from “#DearSister: Muslim women fed up of being lectured” (BBC News)
  2. Hunger Strike Against Sexual Harassment Campaign – Photo from “India schoolgirls on hunger strike to fight sexual harassment” (BBC News)
  3. ‘What were you wearing?’ Art Exhibit – Photo from “Art Exhibit Powerfully Answers the Question “What Were You Wearing?” (Huffington Post)

16 Memorable Stories of Standing Up to Street Harassment 2017

The Pixel Project is pleased to share the seventh annual blog list of 16 memorable stories of women dealing with street harassment, which has been kindly compiled by Holly Kearl, Founder of our partner Stop Street Harassment and one of our 16 Female Role Models of 2010.

Through Facebook and her Stop Street Harassment website, Holly receives and shares stories of women fighting back against street harassment. She shares these stories to help raise awareness of this particular type of violence against women as well as provide inspiration and ideas for everyone on making public places and spaces safe for women. Almost 100% of women and girls experience street harassment in their lifetimes, ranging from the uncomfortable to the downright dangerous.

This list provides a starting point for all to learn about and discuss the impact of street harassment. We hope it’ll inspire you to take action.

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

– Regina Yau, Founder and President, The Pixel Project

Holly’s picture is courtesy of Stop Street Harassment.

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Empowering Response #1: Street Harasser Selfies – Amsterdam, The Netherlands

For a month, 20-year-old Noa Jansma, a student from Amsterdam, took selfies with every man who catcalled her to show how often it happens. Her 30 photos taken with men who willingly stood with her and didn’t seem to understand that their behavior was inappropriate or wrong went viral. Her project was covered by every major media outlet, bringing lots of attention to the topic. Only one man even asked her why she wanted the photo. She was harassed more than the 30 times, but other times felt too unsafe to ask for the photo or the man was already gone.

Empowering Response #2: Reporting an Upskirting Creep – Washington D.C., USA

A woman riding an escalator at a Metro station in Washington, D.C. felt a man’s hand go up under her skirt. She later filed a report at www.wmata.com/harassment and when the transit police reviewed the CCTV footage, they saw the young man had taken an upskirt photo of her. They also saw him do it to other women across that day at the same location. Later, thanks to her initial report, they were able to arrest him.

Empowering Response #3: Publicly Humiliating A Harasser – Chicago, Illinois, USA

CG was walking her dog in Chicago when a man in a work uniform knelt down to pet her dog. When he got up to walk away, he slapped CG’s ass. At first, she was stunned, but then she followed him for 10 minutes yelling that, “THIS GUY JUST ASSAULTED ME WITHOUT MY CONSENT” and “THIS GUY’S A PERVERT.” When he turned around and yelled that CG was “crazy” and “should go home and act like a lady,” she really let him have it. She said, “I’ll bet he thinks twice before he assaults someone again.” She suggests to others: “Calling them out on it. LOUDLY. And if you’re on the street and someone is calling a harasser out, go to her and ask if she needs help. Just be there in case the asshole tries to retaliate.”

Empowering Response #4: Publicly Humiliating A Harasser – Los Angeles, California, USA

Anonymous was getting onto a bus in Los Angeles and her husband and friends were boarding behind her. As she looked for a seat, a man stood up and pulled her onto a seat next to him and said, “You’re sitting HERE!” When she tried to get up, he pushed her back down. Anonymous said that’s when she lost her temper and yelled at him and pointed out that she wasn’t alone. When the guy turned to look, she stood up and shoved him across the aisle. His instinct was to look at her husband and worry he was going to hurt him, but the husband laughed and said it looked like his wife could take care of herself.

Everyone on the bus laughed at him then and the guy went to the front of the bus and waited to get off at the next stop. The bus driver yelled at him when he exited, “Don’t ever come back and leave women alone!” Anonymous said, “That was when I finally stood up for myself…I stopped tolerating harassment a lot after that.”

Empowering Response #5: Shutting Down A Pervert – Anonymous

One day as FM was waiting for the bus with a friend, a car driven by an old man stopped near them and he asked for information about a street. She gave him this information, and then he questioned her, “Do you enjoy sex?” She was very embarrassed and didn’t know what to say. Then he asked several other questions about sex before she asked pointedly, “Do I have to call the police?” and he left.

Empowering Response #6: Making Street Harassment A Crime – France

France’s secretary of state for gender equality, Marlène Schiappa, who has experienced street harassment directly, has spent the past few weeks working to make street harassment a national crime. Her efforts have raised a lot of important conversations about street harassment in the country.

Empowering Response #7: Cream Cakes Against Harassers – Scotland

FL was walking along a busy street in broad daylight in a town in Scotland. She was 14-years-old. A man who was part of a group of men walking behind her came up to her and stuck his hand up her skirt and groped her. She turned around, shocked and saw that they were all laughing. She immediately took the cream cake she was eating and smacked it in her assailant’s face.

Empowering Response #8: Calling Out A Pest – Texas, USA

Sarah in Texas was walking from her office to the bus stop when a man kept pestering her, following her and trying to get her attention. She said that finally, after another “just want to talk to you” comment from him, she turned to him and very loudly said, “I don’t want to talk to you!” He got the message and walked away.

Empowering Response #9: Flipping Off A Catcaller – Wokingham, United Kingdom

Heather in Wokingham, UK, said she was cat called by a man who sat in the passenger seat of a white van when she was walking to her car after work. She noticed there was a girl’s school very nearby and she worried whether he did that, or worse, to the girls. She gave him a withering look, turned around and showed him her middle finger before taking down the license plate of the van and reporting it to the police.

Empowering Response #10: Butts Are Not For Leering At  – Alaska, USA

When anonymous was 16-years-old and in a store in Alaska with her mom, an older man let them pass by him. Then he said, “I let you go in front of me so that I can watch you from behind. Oh, I’m sorry, that was a compliment, you should take it as one.” Anonymous said she felt scared, embarrassed and disgusting, but her mom turned to him and told him off.

Empowering Response #11: Preganant Woman Pushes Back  – Anonymous

Anonymous was walking down the street in Washington while 35 weeks pregnant. She noticed a white unmarked van driving very slowly behind her. Once the van was alongside her, the driver leaned out the window leering at her. He then said, “Oh yeah baby, daaamn.” She told him that she thought he was disgusting.

Empowering Response #12: Bus Driver Takes Action  – Manchester, United Kingdom

RP was 17-years-old and riding a bus with a friend in Manchester, UK, from school to band practice.  An older man in his 40s kept leering at her and smiling creepily. When the girls got off at their stop, he got off too. RP and her friend got on different buses at that point and the man got on RP’s bus. The bus was pretty empty, and yet he followed her and sat right by her. She got up and ran to the bus driver and told him she thought the man was following her. Her stop was coming up and it was in a remote area and she worried what he’d do next. Thankfully, the bus driver believed her and when she got off the bus, he didn’t allow the man to get off at that stop. Some of the other passengers assisted the driver. RP made it to her destination safely. She wrote, “All I can say is thank you to that bus driver and fellow passengers who stopped him following me inside the primary school. I’m also thankful I wasn’t headed home as he doesn’t know where I live.”

Empowering Response #13: Hauling Up The Police – Quezon City, The Philippines

When a 21-year-old woman experienced catcalling at the hands of police in Quezon City, The Philippines, she filed a police report. Street harassment is illegal in the city under a 2016 ordinance. The two men were charged with violating the ordinance and while they wait for sentencing, they have been put on leave from their jobs. This is the first case filed under the new ordinance.

Empowering Response #14: A Comforting Hand  – Rome, Italy

A man grabbed AC and he kept trying to pull her toward him on the street in Rome. When she broke free, she ran across the street into traffic to escape. She said when she reached the other side, “An elderly woman gave me a kind smile and patted my arm without saying anything. That gesture did so much to comfort me and helped me know that I’m not invisible.”

Empowering Response #15: Intervention With Luggage  – San Francisco, California, USA

When AH was riding the train in San Francisco, she noticed a man standing too close to a woman. She stuck her luggage between them and he moved and found a new target. AH kept trying to get his attention, but he ignored her, so she tapped the young woman on the shoulder and pointed out what was happening. He got angry and shoved AH’s bag, but he did exit the train. AH wrote, “I was very shaken up. I had never called someone out for harassing another person before, but I felt very protective of other women in that moment. People came up to me afterwards and said I did the right thing and they would have backed me up. The first girl also thanked me because she wasn’t sure what had happened until she saw him do it to someone else. I hope that my choice to step out will cause others to be aware of their surroundings and to speak up if they see someone being harassed.”

Empowering Response #16: Male Ally Does Good  – Texas, USA

Kensa was walking in Texas when a man on a motorcycle pulled up next to her and began paying her “compliments.” At first, she said thank you to appease him, but then he kept demanding she get on his bike and take a ride with him. He got angry when she refused and repeatedly pestered her until a man nearby intervened, saying, “You can clearly see that she is not interested. You’re scaring this poor girl.” This did not deter the motorcyclist at first and he kept telling her to get on, but the bystander stayed with Kensa and kept telling the man, “She’s not interested.” Finally, the motorcyclist left.

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Photo Credits:

  1. Picture 1 – From Dear Catcallers (https://www.instagram.com/p/BZeIQuoF6CZ/)
  2. Picture 2 – From ‘France considers tough new laws to fight sexual harassment and abuse’ (The Guardian/PDN/Sipa/Rex/Shutterstock)
  3. Picture 3 – Courtesy of Stop Street Harassment (www.stopstreetharassment.org)
  4. Picture 4 – From ‘2 cops lose smirk in QC’s 1st case vs catcalling’ (Inquirer.net)

16 Individuals and Groups Working To Stop Violence Against Women In Gaming

Since the 1980s, the link between video games and its potential to cause or instigate violent behaviour (particularly in children and youth) has been a topic of comment, study, and research. Yet while sexism, misogyny, and violence against women (VAW) in video games has been noted as far back as 1982 with the protests against Custer’s Revenge by women’s groups for its inclusion and depiction of rape, VAW continued to be exploited by video games and normalised as part of gaming culture.

The major turning point arrived when the #Gamergate controversy erupted in 2014 and the sexism and violence in the gaming community and industry caught the attention of mainstream media as many women developers and gamers were publicly targeted by male gamers through online abuse, doxxing, and rape and death threats. Some of these women even moved homes because of the magnitude of the threat of violence.

Gamergate highlighted the urgent need to address the large-scale sexism and violence experienced by female gamers, especially in the tremendously popular MMO games where gamers gather online in teams and bullying and harassment is as easy as sending a volley of abusive misogynistic vitriol over one’s microphone. Many individual activists, groups and gaming companies have started working on accelerating ongoing efforts, preventing and addressing this violence. Their change-making efforts are slowly paying off: post-Gamergate there has been an increase in women entering the gaming industry as developers, reviewers, and players.

In this list, we present 16 individuals and organisations working to directly address and eliminate VAW in gaming in various ways ranging from critiquing video gaming violence and conducting research on gaming and sexism to building more female-friendly spaces in gaming and paving the way for VAW-free videogames in the market.

With 52% of gamers identifying as women, it’s definitely time to stop violence against women in gaming. Together.

Introduction by Rubina Singh and Regina Yau; Written and compiled Rubina Singh with additional content by Regina Yau

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Campaigner Against VAW in Gaming #1: Anita Sarkeesian – Canada

Anita Sarkeesian is a feminist social critic and founder of Feminist Frequency who has been fighting to end VAW in gaming for many years. Through her web series Tropes vs Women in Video Games, Anita shone a light on the rampant sexism and violence against women prevalent not only in video games but also within the gaming community. Thanks to her work, Anita has been the target of vicious harassment campaigns time and again including the infamous Gamergate. While her work to bring an end to VAW in video games continues, Anita is also working towards online safety for women.

Campaigner Against VAW in Gaming #2: AnyKey – United States of America

AnyKey is an organisation dedicated to supporting and advocating for diversity in esports by fostering welcoming spaces and positive opportunities for competitive players of all kinds. Currently, the organisation’s research and initiatives are focused on women in esports, including providing competitive gamers with resources, support and opportunities, as well as collaborating with women in the industry to build better gaming spaces for women and girls.

Campaigner Against VAW in Gaming #3: Brianna Wu – United States of America

Brianna Wu is a video game developer and the co-founder of the game development studio Giant Spacekat. She also created one of the first video games with only female characters. A vocal opponent of sexism and VAW in video games, Brianna found herself facing extreme harassment and abuse in the wake of Gamergate. Brianna is now running for congress so she can participate in making changes at the policy level to ensure safety for women.

Campaigner Against VAW in Gaming #4: Code Liberation Foundation – United States of America

Code Liberation was started in 2013 to teach women, non-binary, femme and girl-identifying people to program. As part of their approach to addressing the underlying sexism in gaming, Code Liberation provides access to computer science to people who may not have considered entering STEAM fields because of sexism. By creating a supportive atmosphere for women and other non-binary folks, Code Liberation hopes to bring some much-needed change in the gaming industry.

Campaigner Against VAW in Gaming #5: Douglas Gentile – France and the United States of America

Dr. Douglas Gentile, a professor of psychology at Iowa State University, has been trying to shine a light on the impact of VAW in video games. In a recent study, Dr. Gentile and his team of researchers surveyed 13000 French adolescents and found a link between video games and sexism. While there has been previous research about the amount of VAW shown in video games, it would be dismissed on the grounds that it did not encourage users to emulate similar behavior. Dr. Gentile’s study, however, provides the missing piece of the puzzle – evidence that video games encourage sexist attitudes in young people.

Campaigner Against VAW in Gaming #6: Emily Matthew – Online

In 2012, Emily Matthew undertook an online survey with 874 participants to find out more about VAW and sexism in video games. According to her findings, 60% of female respondents faced harassment while playing video games and 79.3% agreed that sexism is prominent in the gaming community. Talking about why she undertook the research, Emily shared in an interview, “I have been a target of sexual harassment, especially when playing online on public servers with people I don’t know. I think that the community recognizes that it’s there. But there’s never really any sort of empirical data to use when discussing it or arguing against it. I only have anecdotes to describe what’s happening to me, and I think people take that less seriously than if you have hard data to support your claims.”

Note: Ms. Matthew’s photograph and country details are unavailable.

Campaigner Against VAW in Gaming #7: Jennifer Brandes Hepler – United States of America

Jennifer Brandes Hepler is the editor of Women in Game Development: Breaking the Glass-level Cap – a book which highlights the personal accounts of 22 women who work in the game industry regarding the encounters they have faced ranging from sexism and harassment to hostile employers. In the book, Hepler wrote: “If there is one thing you get from reading this book, I hope it is to recognise that there is no single narrative of being a ‘woman in games’. But although the characters change, the setting is the same, and the hostility and ignorance we have all faced continue to be a defining part of many women’s experience of games.” It is her belief that continuing to speak out about discrimination and violence against women in the industry as well as playing and creating games that counteract sexism and misogyny is the way forward.

Campaigner Against VAW in Gaming #8: Kanane Jones – United States of America

Kanane Jones is a video game developer and creator of the game Final Girls. As a survivor of abuse, Kanane wanted to develop a game that focuses on what happens to a survivor after the trauma and how they move on with their lives. While creating the game was cathartic for Kanane, she also hoped that it would bring more attention the issue of VAW.

 

Campaigner Against VAW in Gaming #9: Leigh Alexander – United States of America

Leigh Alexander is an author and journalist who focuses on writing about sexism and VAW in video games. She was former editor-at-large for Gamasutra and later became editor-in-chief at Offworld a gaming site focused on diversity and inclusiveness within the gaming community. Like many of the women on this list, Leigh was also harassed and abused during Gamergate.

 

Campaigner Against VAW in Gaming #10: MissCliks – Online

MissCliks is an organisation comprising gaming community leaders who  banded together to use their influence and voices to champion a world where people of all genders can participate in geek and gamer culture without fear of prejudice or mistreatment while enjoying acceptance and opportunity. At present, the MissCliks team is 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.”

Campaigner Against VAW in Gaming #11: Nina Freeman – United States of America

Nina Freeman is a game developer who is transforming the industry by creating innovative video games about sex and relationships without any form of VAW.  Many of her games are autobiographical in nature and she has also made a game called Freshman Year that explores abuse and unwanted attention in a college setting. Talking about the relevance of her work, Nina shared, “It felt really good to be a part of a community of women who care about helping the industry become more diverse and inclusive. It’s definitely an important pursuit.”

Campaigner Against VAW in Gaming #12: Punchdrunk Games – United States of America

Led by a group of women and non-binary folks, Punchdrunk Games is a video game development company that creates games without any form of VAW. Their most popular game to date has been Regicide: Tale of the Forgotten Thief, where the player follows the story of a female lead. One of the team members, Jelly Rains shared in an interview about how she feels that their involvement in the gaming industry will help to make it safer for women: “When I heard about GG [Gamergate], I realised that there was a need to make the gaming industry safe for my daughter and all other young women. The only way I can make sure that happens is by me being in the game industry myself.”

Campaigner Against VAW in Gaming #13: Randi Lee Harper – United States of America

Post-Gamergate, Randi Harper wanted to facilitate systemic changes which prevent online abuse from occurring. As a game developer, Randi faced online abuse even before Gamergate and had created a tool known as ‘ggautoblocker’ to protect users from mob harassment on Twitter. She later founded the Online Abuse Prevention Network to prevent and mitigate targeted abuse online.

 

Campaigner Against VAW in Gaming #14: Re-figuring Innovation in Games – Canada

Re-figuring Innovation in Games (ReFIG) is a project undertaken by a team of researchers and led by Professor Jennifer Jenson from York University. A team member – Dr. Alison Harvey from the University of Leicester’s Department of Media and Communication – explained, “Women and girls have largely been excluded from games culture − as players, makers and protagonists. Additionally, many of those who do participate in games have been publicly harassed both online and offline as exemplified by the ‘Gamergate’ hate campaign. Addressing long-standing gender inequalities in the global digital games industry is a vital means by which to stimulate innovation and sustain the growth and consolidation of this massive creative arena.” Through the project, the team seeks to address these issues and develop an inclusivity toolkit for the games industry and gender-inclusive curricula for game programmes and incubators among other outcomes.

Campaigner Against VAW in Gaming #15: Shannon Sun-Higginson – United States of America

To bring mainstream attention to sexism and misogyny in the gaming industry, Shannon Sun-Higginson directed a documentary called Get The F**k Out (GTFO) in 2012. The documentary looked at the commonplace VAW in the gaming community through interviews with video game developers, journalists and academics.

 

Campaigner Against VAW in Gaming #16: Zoe Quinn – United States of America

Zoe Quinn is a video game developer and programmer who was at the center of the infamous Gamergate controversy. Zoe had spoken out about gender inequality in gaming for many years, and post Gamergate, she faced immense online harassment and abuse. The controversy brought mainstream attention to VAW in gaming. She is now working to address online abuse through her organisation Crash Override.

 

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Photo Credits:

  1. Anita Sarkeesian – From “Anita Sarkeesian” (Jessica Zollman / Anita Sarkeesian)
  2. Brianna Wu – From “Brianna Wu vs. the Gamergate Troll Army” (Michael Friberg / Inc.)
  3. Code Liberation Foundation – From “Interview with Phoenix Perry of Code Liberation Foundation” (VG Revolution)
  4. Douglas Gentile – From “Researchers find Video Games Influence Sexist Attitudes” (Iowa State University News Service)
  5. Jennifer Brandes Helper – From “How women in gaming face hostility” (Polygon)
  6. Jennifer Jenson – From “Distinguished Scholars – DiGRA
  7. Kanane Jones – From Kanane Jones on Google+
  8. Leigh Alexander – From “Leigh Alexander Bio” (Kotaku)
  9. MissCliks – From MissCliks.com
  10. Nina Freeman – From “Meet Nina Freeman, the Punk Poet of Gaming” (The Guardian)
  11. Punchdrunk Games – Still of Regicide from “Punchdrunk Games” (Facebook)
  12. Randi Lee Harper – From ‘Randi Lee Harper on Twitter’
  13. Jennifer Jenson – From “Distinguinshed Scholars – DiGRA
  14. Shannon Sun-Higginson – From www.shannonsun.com
  15. Zoe Quinn – From “Gamergate Target Zoe Quinn can Teach us How to Fight Online Hate” (Wired)

 

The Pixel Project Selection 2017: 16 films about Violence Against Women

Welcome to the 6th annual The Pixel Project selection of powerful and thought-provoking films, documentaries and television shows that depict violence against women and girls. This annual list that sheds light on the various forms of violence against women seeks not only to educate but also to catalyse change. And it is our hope that with understanding comes action, even it is in the form of small contributions – ‘little stones’, as one documentary on this list puts it.

This year, our selection includes documentaries that are decades old, yet the issues they bring up still affect women and communities around the world today. And in this age of Trump, Weinstein, and #MeToo, it would also be remiss of us if we did not also include the latest and most talked-about television series of 2017  –  Hulu’s adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s eerily prescient The Handmaid’s Tale which depicts a world where violence against and the subjugation of women is completely normalised, something we could easily imagining happening should nothing be done to stem the tide of violence against women.

Yet all hope is not lost, though. The 16 films, series, and documentaries essentially tells the stories of survivors and others who are fighting to change things. We hope that their stories will inspire you to think about what you can do to contribute to the fight to end violence against women.

Introduction by Anushia Kandasivam and Regina Yau. Written and compiled Anushia Kandasivam with additional content by Regina Yau

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Selection number 1: A Better Man

This Canadian documentary comprises a series of intimate conversations between ‘Steve’ and Attiya Khan, a former couple who were in an abusive relationship twenty years ago. Khan and Steve’s two-year physically- and emotionally-abusive relationship ended when Khan, then 18, literally ran away from him one night. The documentary, filmed with consent from both parties, sees Khan and Steve speak about what they remember of the relationship and gain understanding of each other and themselves. An interesting look at intimate partner violence, the film makes clear that abusers need help, not just societal censure.

 

Selection number 2: A Cry for Help: The Tracey Thurman Story

This 1989 TV-movie is about a woman who leaves an abusive relationship, only to be stalked and harassed by her ex-husband, while being unable to get help from the apathetic local police force. The film is based on the 1985 ruling of the US court in Thurman v City of Torrington, where Thurman sued the city police department for failure of equal protection under the law for ignoring signs of domestic violence and casually dismissing restraining orders and other legal bars to keep Thurman’s ex-husband away from her.

 

Selection number 3: A Walk to Beautiful

Women in rural Ethiopia face a long and arduous journey, literally and figuratively, when they go to the capital Addis Ababa to seek treatment for obstetric fistula, a complication of childbirth that sees them become outcasts in their villages and a hidden epidemic that nobody talks about because it is a problem of poor women. This award-winning Ethiopian documentary shows the physical, social and psychological trauma these very young women go through because of their condition and what successful treatment means – a chance for new and fulfilling life.

 

Selection number 4: Brave Miss World

In 1998, six weeks before being crowned Miss World, 18-year old Miss Israel Linor Abargil was stabbed and raped while on a modelling job in Milan. This documentary sees her telling her story without shame, something she has done from the very beginning, and shows how Abargil’s advocacy for victims of VAW has encouraged women in Israel and around the world to report their rapes and tell their own stories.

Brave Miss World – Theatrical Trailer from Brave Miss World on Vimeo.

 

Selection number 5: Calling the Ghosts

A first-person account of two women’s experiences of torture and rape during the Bosnian War, this award-winning documentary is an intimate, emotional and sometimes graphic look at what Jadranka Cigelj and Nusreta Sivac, childhood friends, lawyers and Muslim Croats, went through at the hands of their Serb captors. The film also documents how they eventually channelled their experiences into fighting for justice for other women, successfully lobbying to have rape included in the international lexicon of war crimes by the UN Tribunal at the Hague.

 

Selection number 6: God Sleeps in Rwanda

This award-winning documentary follows five Rwandan women as they navigate their lives after the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, which left the country majority female. This unique film touches on how the lives of women have changed, both in terms of opportunity and burden, as they live through the unprecedented consequences of the national tragedy, documenting their strength and perseverance.

 

Selection number 7: Invisible Crimes

This sequence by German filmmaker Wim Wenders is part of a series of five short films called Invisibles that examine problems that are overlooked around the world and the people who suffer from them. It was shot in the town of Kabalo in the Democratic Republic of Congo and documents war crimes, specifically rape as a weapon of war. The film has several women tell their stories to the camera frankly and openly as they fade in and out of view, giving the viewer an intimate insight into their experiences and understanding of how invisible they really are.

 

Selection number 8: Killer’s Paradise

A scathing look at the inadequacies of a police force and justice system, this documentary is about the unsolved murders and other forms of violence against women in Guatemala, an epidemic that has been growing since the end of the Guatemalan Civil War that ended in 1996. This film explains how fear of retaliation, unwilling and apathetic authorities, widespread corruption and a pervasive culture of misogyny and societal machismo contribute to the epidemic. Not without hope, the film also touches on new national programmes that aim to improve the situation and efforts to bring international attention to the plight of women in Guatemala.

Killer’s Paradise-English from Giselle Portenier on Vimeo.

 

Selection number 9: Little Stones

This documentary comprises the personal narratives of four women in Brazil, India, Germany and the US who are using art as a weapon to combat violence against women. The film’s title comes from a quote from suffragist and women’s right activist Alice Paul: “I always feel the movement is a sort of mosaic. Each of us puts in one little stone.” This film shows how these four  women use dance, song, fashion and graffiti art to educate, raise awareness and raise funds, each adding their little stone to the greater  movement to end violence against women, and hopefully encouraging others to add more little stones.

 

Selection number 10: Love You to Death: A Year of Domestic Violence

This documentary tells the stories of each of the 86 women who were killed by their male partners in the United Kingdom in 2013. Filmmaker Vanessa Engle wanted to give a face and a name to the figures of victims of domestic violence in her home country. It also gives voice to the survivors of the tragedy, who speak about their mother, daughter, sister, aunt, niece or friend, allowing the viewer to get to know the women, how they lived, and how they died. Engle has said that the documentary holds a mirror up to life and she hopes that anyone seeing their own situation in the film will be able to “realise that it is bad, and that they might consider getting out of it”.

 

Selection number 11: Mrs Goundo’s Daughter

Mrs Goundo is an immigrant from Mali who went through female genital mutilation (FGM) as a young girl and is fighting for political asylum in the USA not just for herself but also for her two-year-old daughter for whom FGM is a real possibility if she returns to Mali. This documentary shows how women are particularly affected by the legal struggles surrounding immigration, and provides some insight into FGM and the communities who continue this practice.

 

Selection number 12: The Accused

This 1988 Hollywood movie starring Jodie Foster and Kelly McGillis is loosely based on the real-life gang rape of Cheryl Araujo and the resulting trial that received national news coverage in the US. The film was surrounded by controversy before and after it was released, with producers having to fight to get it made and because of what was considered one of the boldest portrayals of sexual assault on film at the time. This film is one of the first to explore the complex issues surrounding rape, including victim blaming and the responsibilities of bystanders.

 

Selection number 13: The Handmaid’s Tale

This television series has been called one of the most unnerving series to have ever come to the silver screen not just because of its clear, no-holds-barred depiction of what the politicisation and normalisation of violence against women can do to communities, society as a whole and even to civilisation as we know it but also because, the current state of the world being what it is, it is so easy to imagine the world it depicts becoming a reality. Based on Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel of the same name, this series is set in the near future where human fertility rates are near zero and the few women found to be fertile are stripped of their identities and forced to be ‘handmaids’ whose sole purpose is to bear the children of upper class men. It follows the struggles of one handmaid as she fights to retain identity and dignity and escape totalitarianism.

 

Selection number 14: Umoja: The Village Where Men Are Forbidden

This documentary is an interesting and insightful look at Umoja Uaso, an all-female matriarch village in Kenya. Umoja Uaso was originally founded by a Samburu woman as a women-only community for survivors of rape who were forced out of their homes by their husbands for being ‘defiled’. Now, the village welcomes women and girls who are survivors of domestic violence and rape or running away from forced marriages and female genital mutilation. The village’s founder and matriarch Rebecca Lolosoli has faced threats and the village has been attacked by local men but she remains undeterred and determined to provide a sanctuary for Kenyan women and girls who have faced gender-based violence.

 

Selection number 15: Very Young Girls

In the United States, the average age for entry into prostitution is 13. This documentary follows the lives of 13- and 14-year-old girls who are seduced, abused, and sold on the streets of New York by pimps in a form of human trafficking that is rarely talked about. When arrested, the girls are also treated as adult criminals by the US justice system. The film features intimate interviews of the girls, footage of their interaction with their pimps and interviews with the people trying to help them find a new life.

 

Selection number 16: Woman

This documentary series takes a look at violence against women from a different angle by exploring its political impact throughout the world. It reports on issues such as domestic violence, sexual violence, unacknowledged murders of women, forced marriage and incarceration of mothers, and examines the status of women as an indicator of a nation’s stability and economic growth.

The Pixel Project Selection 2017: 16 Authors Saying NO To Violence Against Women

Books can be dangerous. The best ones should be labelled: “This could change your life.” – Helen Exley

Violence against women (VAW) is a prevalent and entrenched part of countless societies around the world but it is still considered a taboo topic, even to a certain extent, in developed and first-world communities.  Pop culture media, therefore is invaluable at raising awareness, and promoting and prompting advocacy against VAW, doing much to break the silence.

The Pixel Project’s Read For Pixels campaign was first launched in September 2014 in recognition of the longstanding power of books to shape cultural ideas and influence the direction of history. From Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird to to J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter series to Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point, popular authors and their stories have been instrumental in planting ideas, triggering thoughtful water-cooler discussions, and providing food for thought for communities. And in the age of geek culture and social media, bestselling authors wield influence beyond just their books as they are able to directly communicate their readers and fans via Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and other social media channels.

Since then, the campaign has gone from strength to strength. To date, over 80 award-winning bestselling authors from genres as diverse as Science Fiction, Fantasy, Crime, Thrillers, and Horror have participated in various Read For Pixels campaigns and initiatives, raising more than $48,000 to date for the cause to end VAW.

In this article, we honour 16 award-winning bestselling authors from our 2016 and 2017 Read For Pixels campaigns. They hail from genres as diverse as Comics, Horror, Contemporary Fiction, Young Adult, Urban Fantasy, and Science Fiction. Many of them are global celebrities with strong fan followings, others are well-respected in their countries or genres. Still others are up-and-coming stars who have decided to use their talents for good. It is the movement to end VAW that unites and inspires them and we hope that all of them will continue to work with the movement in years to come.

To learn more about each author and their books, click on the author’s name.

To learn more about what each author has to say about violence against women, click on their quote to be taken to the YouTube video of their Read For Pixels Google Hangout or their blog articles.

Written and compiled by Regina Yau, with Google Hangout transcriptions by Anushia Kandasivam, Bernardo Rosa Rodriguez, Bridget Hudacs, and Regina Yau.

NOTE: 24 authors participated this year and those not featured in this year’s list will be featured in next year’s list.

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Author Against VAW 1: Adrian Tchaikovsky

Adrian Tchaikovsky is a keen live role-player and occasional amateur actor, has trained in stage-fighting, and keeps no exotic or dangerous pets of any kind, possibly excepting his son. He is the author of the critically acclaimed Shadows of the Apt series, the Echoes of the Fall series, and several stand-alone novels, including Children of Time, winner of the 30th Anniversary Arthur C. Clarke Award for Best Science Fiction Novel. When talking about violence against women, Adrian said: “The chief problem with violence against women is violence by men. So I’m looking at a problem where I am of the demographic that perpetuates this problem. I have all the advantages of birth, of being a man in society, which is pretty much a better thing than being a woman because of the way people will react to you, because of the opportunities you have. I think that does put a sort of positive duty on me to try to redress the balance.”

Authors Against VAW 2: Aliette de Bodard

Aliette is an engineer, a writer, and a keen amateur cook. Her love of mythology and history led her to speculative fiction early on. She is the author of The House of Shattered Wings, the first Dominion of the Fallen Novel, plus numerous short stories, the Aztec noir trilogy Obsidian and Blood, and the award-nominated On a Red Station, Drifting, a space opera based on Vietnamese culture. She has won two Nebula Awards and a Locus Award. Aliette says: “I support [stopping violence against women] because it’s still one of the major causes of damage to be done to women in various guises […] and the statistics are pretty horrific […] ” and says that authors can support ending violence against women by “being as outspoken as they can when it happens.”

Authors Against VAW 3: Charles de Lint

Charles de Lint is the author of more than seventy adult, young adult and children’s books. Renowned as one of the trailblazers of the modern fantasy genre, he is the recipient of the World Fantasy, Aurora, Sunburst, and White Pine awards, among others. Modern Library’s Top 100 Books of the 20th Century poll, conducted by Random House and voted on by readers, put eight of de Lint’s books among the top 100. When talking about how men can help stop violence against women, Charles says: “It’s pretty basic. Just as we shouldn’t let racist comments from our friends and acquaintances slide, neither should misogynist comments or jokes go by without questioning them. You don’t have to get heavy about it. Even just saying, “I don’t understand,” as often as necessary to someone trying to justify it to you, sends a clear message that this attitude no longer flies. Speak up when you become aware of something that’s not right, be it trolls on the Internet or some jerk on the street. And always be a rock for those who might need our support. Treat your partners and women friends with the genuine respect and honesty they deserve.”

Authors Against VAW 4: Colleen Houck

New York Times Bestselling Author Colleen Houck is a lifelong reader whose literary interests include action, adventure, science fiction, and romance. Formerly a student at the University of Arizona, she worked as a nationally certified American Sign Language interpreter before switching careers to become an author. When talking about violence against women, specifically domestic violence, Colleen said: “It’s hard for me to wrap my head around a situation where a person is afraid of the person that they married or the person that is their parent. […] And it’s something that, you know, if we know about it we need to do something about that because it’s not right. […] It’s one that if we can open our eyes we can see, and if we see it we can do something, we can act. And I think that is a very important thing to talk about and to talk to people about.”

Authors Against VAW 5: Elizabeth Bear

Elizabeth Bear is the multiple Hugo award winning author of over twenty-five books and a hundred short stories. She specialises in science fiction and fantasy. Recent works include Karen Memory and the Eternal Sky sequence. When asked why she supports efforts to stop violence against women (specifically domestic violence), Elizabeth said: “For me it’s a very personal issue. I grew up in an abusive household. And I grew up in an abusive household that is not the sort that is fashionable to discuss because it was a same gender household and it was a mixed race household. And I feel like all of this informs your life, informs your outlook, informs your view of yourself. Also, my certification has long lapsed but at one point I was a State of Connecticut certified domestic violence counsellor and I volunteered at a domestic violence shelter in Hartford. So it’s totally personal, I’ll cop to that.”

Authors Against VAW 6: Karen Chance

Karen Chance is the New York Times bestselling author of the Cassie Palmer novels and the Midnight’s Daughter series. She has lived in France, the United Kingdom, and Hong Kong, but always comes back to America. When talking about her support for the cause to end violence against women, Karen said: “So it’s not just the women you would think of who are battered; it could be anybody, anybody at all. It needs to be pounded into little girls’ heads and older women’s head that this is not alright, this is not ok. And hopefully, after generations we’ll see change. And the younger generation is seeing a lot of change in how men and women interact. And I hope that’s one of the changes we’ll see.”

Authors Against VAW 7: Karen Rose

Award winning, internationally bestselling romantic suspense author Karen Rose earned her degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Maryland. She lived in Cincinnati and worked in the engineering field for years before she began writing novels in 2003. Rose currently lives in Florida. When talking about what parents can do to stop violence against women and girls, Karen said: “I think we should teach our sons to respect women. I think a lot of people aren’t really clear on all the ways women get disrespected in our society so they don’t know how to teach their sons not to do that. […]  It’s things like teaching a husband to be respectful of his wife’s opinion, her career and goals in life. He’s not more important, she’s not more important. They are equal together. I think that is something we as parents owe our children. I think once we all start doing that the world is going to be a better place.”

Author Against VAW 8: Ken Liu

A winner of the Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy awards, Ken Liu is the author of The Dandelion Dynasty, a silkpunk epic fantasy series (The Grace of Kings (2015), The Wall of Storms (2016), and a forthcoming third volume) and The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories (2016), a collection. When talking about what men and boys can do to stop violence against women, Ken said: “Violence against women is a human rights problem so everybody is involved and needs to be involved. When it comes to boys, I think a fundamental part of our effort needs to be directed into instilling a fundamental respect for women, for girls, and absolute adherence to equality of the sexes and respect for gender diversity as part of the human condition. But at the same time I think it’s very important also to teach boys to understand the perspective of privilege, of power, what it means to benefit from an unequal systems so they can see the ways in which the narrative they’re in in not universal, ‘natural’ or deserved.”

Authors Against VAW 9: Martha Wells

Martha Wells is the author of over a dozen science fiction and fantasy novels, including the Books of the Raksura series, Star Wars: Razor’s Edge, and the Nebula-nominated The Death of the Necromancer, as well as short stories, nonfiction, and YA fantasy. Her books have been published in seven languages. When speaking about her personal experience, Martha says: “I was stalked when I was in college and it damaged my ability to trust for quite a long time. Probably still does and something like that just affects you on so many different levels. [,,,] Even people I just met casually – once we all started talking about it, they all had some sort of story about being stalked or having something happen to them. It was so common.” When asked why she supports stopping violence against women “because it’s just something that’s going to lift up everybody […] Fighting misogyny is like fighting racism: it’s gonna make the world better for everyone. It’s something everybody should think about.”

Authors Against VAW 10: Martina Boone

Martina Boone is the acclaimed author of the romantic Southern Gothic Heirs of Watson Island series, including COMPULSION and PERSUASION which are out now, and ILLUSION. She was born in Prague and spoke several languages before learning English, which is what she blames for her mad love of words and fairy tale settings. When discussing what needs to be done to reduce violence against women, she said: “I think what we have to do is to work actively, to educate, to empower women, to provide networks where they can go to get support when they need it, and more importantly to get the message out that women are equal, deserve as much as men, that women contribute as much as men even if it’s in a different way, and that all people deserve to be respected and honoured, treated well and lifted up as opposed to being trodden down. I think if that message can go out as often as possible, it will counteract the [opposing] messages that you hear from so many people in authority and who are so-called role models.”

Authors Against VAW 11: Mary Robinette Kowal

Mary Robinette Kowal is the author of The Glamourist Histories series of fantasy novels and a three time Hugo Award winner. Her short fiction appears in Uncanny, Tor.com, and Asimov’s. Mary, a professional puppeteer, lives in Chicago. When discussing the use of rape tropes in story-telling and why it is usually a lazy shorthand done badly by many authors, Mary said: “One thing about rape and violence against women is that it is never about the person it happens to. It affects them deeply and it affects them for the rest of their lives. But it is never about them or the choices they made or their lives. It is about the person who did it to them. And that’s why I fell it is a very poor story-telling technique. Because what you are telling me about is about the character who did it. That act of violence is not specific to the person.”

Authors Against VAW 12: Michelle Sagara

Toronto-based New York Times bestselling author Michelle Sagara writes as both Michelle Sagara and Michelle West. Reading is one of her life-long passions, and she is sometimes paid for her opinions about what she’s read by the venerable Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. When talking about the connection between parenting boys and male violence against women, Michelle said: “I think women really suffer. I think partly it’s our upbringing […] You can put a person in a position where “it’s her fault”: “He wouldn’t get angry if I didn’t do this; he wouldn’t hit me if I hadn’t done this.” And NO! Really, NO! But that goes back to the infantilisation of male children. […] I mean a four year old can punch you in the leg and then you take him upstairs to his room where he can sit for 20 minutes and think about this carefully. But you can’t do that with a 40 year old and not when you’re his wife. And part of responsible parenting is [teaching] a little bit of self-control, a little bit of awareness that you actually don’t have the right anymore to have a temper tantrum when you are breaking lives.”

Authors Against VAW 13: Paul Tremblay

Paul Tremblay is the author of DISAPPEARANCE AT DEVIL’S ROCK, the award winning A HEAD FULL OF GHOSTS. A HEAD FULL OF GHOSTS, THE LITTLE SLEEP, and the forthcoming THE FOUR (summer 2018). His essays and short fiction have appeared in the Los Angeles Times and numerous “year’s best” anthologies. Paul is on the board of directors for the Shirley Jackson Awards. Paul is also a teacher at a boys’ school and he said: “I enjoy where I’m teaching but there’s a huge problem with it because there are no girls in the classroom […] because it’s all boys, they feel there are no consequences for what they say but there are certainly consequences if they say anything sexist or misogynist in my classroom. The hard part is doing it in a way that doesn’t make them think that I’m the enemy or something like that but do it in a way that I’m not shaming them because they are going to make mistakes. I want the classroom to be a safe place where they can make mistakes.”

Authors Against VAW 14: Rachel Vincent

Rachel Vincent is the bestselling author of the SHIFTERS, SOUL SCREAMERS and UNBOUND series, a former English teacher, and an eager champion of the Oxford comma. She shares her home in Oklahoma with two cats, two teenagers, and her husband, who’s been her #1 fan from the start. Rachel talked about the role parenting plays in dismantling sexism, misogyny, and violence against women. She said of her own efforts: “This is what we do with my own son: we do a lot of questioning. If you hear your son, your brother or whoever saying something that is sexist or biased, ask questions. What would you say if the gender roles were reversed? Why is it the way it is? And I think you have to start [asking questions] early because the world bombards children with gender bias in toys, in clothing, and in roles. If ‘it takes a village,’ then you already know the rest of the village is going to be giving them one point of view. It’s our responsibility as parents, as educators and anyone who has influence over young minds to show them that there is another perspective, another way. That life may not be fair, but that doesn’t mean that we have to stop trying to make it fair.”

Authors Against VAW 15: Soman Chainani

Soman Chainani’s first book, THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL, debuted on the New York Times Bestseller List, has been translated into 25 languages across six continents, and will soon be a major motion picture from Universal Studios, produced by Joe Roth and Jane Startz. When asked about why how authors can help stop violence against women, Soman said: “I think for me I’ve always had that view that women are the stronger and smarter of the two sexes. That a world run by women would be a safer, happier, more peaceful place. There was a reason why when the Women’s Marches happened in the US, they are the only protests that ever happened with no violence. So, to me, I support the project because the idea of violence against women just runs so deeply against what I think should be happening in the world. In terms of authors supporting it, everything has to come down to the art. It becomes about changing people’s minds through writing.”

Authors Against VAW 16: Susan Dennard

New York Times bestselling author Susan Dennard has come a long way from small-town Georgia. As a marine biologist, she got to travel the world—six out of seven continents, to be exact (she’ll get to Asia one of these days!)—before she settled down as a full-time novelist and writing instructor. She lives in the Midwest with her husband and two dogs, and she is extremely active on social media. When asked why she supports The Pixel Project and ending violence against women, she said: “It seems like such a no-brainer to me – of course I would support ending violence against women. I got that question recently too and I was like ‘Obviously? I mean not to sound rude but yes, of course, there’s not even an option not to? It’s easily one of the most important causes that exist.”

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Photo Credits:

  1. Adrian Tchaikovsky – Courtesy of Pan Macmillan UK; Photographer: Joby Sessions.
  2. Aliette de Bodard – Courtesy of Ace, an imprint of Penguin Random House
  3. Charles de Lint – Courtesy of Charles de Lint
  4. Colleen Houck – Courtesy of Colleen Houck
  5. Elizabeth Bear – Courtesy of Elizabeth Bear
  6. Karen Chance – Courtesy of Berkley, an imprint of Penguin Random House
  7. Karen Rose – Courtesy of Berkley, an imprint of  Penguin Random House
  8. Ken Liu – Courtesy of Ken Liu; Photographer: Lisa Tang Liu
  9. Martha Wells – Courtesy of Martha Wells; Photographer: Igor Kraguljac
  10. Martina Boone – Courtesy of Martina Boone
  11. Mary Robinette Kowal – Courtesy of Mary Robinette Kowal
  12. Michelle Sagara – Courtesy of Michelle Sagara
  13. Paul Tremblay – Courtesy of Paul Tremblay; Photographer: Michael Lajoie
  14. Rachel Vincent – Courtesy of Rachel Vincent
  15. Soman Chainani – Courtesy of Soman Chainani
  16. Susan Dennard – Courtesy of New Leaf Literary

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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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

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

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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.

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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)