The Pixel Project Selection 2015: 16 Of The Pixel Project’s Best Interview Articles

Blog-and-Pen-300x237At The Pixel Project, we combine technology, social media, pop culture, the Arts, journalism and activism to draw attention to and highlight the many ways violence against women (VAW) affects the lives of all people in all communities all around the world.

A major component of our awareness-raising and educational work is blogging. As with other social media platforms that we use, blogging empowers us to raise awareness about VAW, generate conversation by giving people a safe space to talk about VAW, and inspire activism. In addition, blogs are a push-button publishing platform that enables us to present in-depth articles, op-eds, and interviews that go beyond the soundbites.

In 2015, our writing and editorial team focused on 3 major interview-driven blogging campaigns: our monthly Inspirational Interview series on anti-VAW activists, our 30 for 30 Father’s Day campaign interviews, and our Survivors Stories series. All 3 blogging campaigns feature a series of interviews with people from around the world whose lives have been affected by VAW and who are fighting back against VAW using a range of methods and approaches. These interviews form an inspirational tapestry of ideas, stories, and calls-to-action

As our selection of this year’s 16 best Pixel Project blog interview articles show, we succeeded in fulfilling our mission this year. 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 Carol Olson, with additional selection and content by Regina Yau. Introduction by Carol Olson and Regina Yau.

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Pixel Project Blog Interview Selection #1: 30 for 30 Father’s Day Campaign Interview – Bala Sasetu, Nigeria 

Bala SasetuBala Sasetu is a lawyer by training and a public servant by profession. He describes himself as a family-focused person, a servant to his community and is the father of two children. In his “30 For 30” Father’s Day interview, Bala talks about why dads need to be mindful of being good male role models. He stated: “Fathers owe it to society to treat their wives with respect so that their children do not carry on the trend of violence. Fatherhood is not just being a father, but also teaching boys to be gentlemen and responsible fathers.”

Pixel Project Blog Interview Selection #2: Inspirational Interview: Brooke Axtell, United States of America

Brooke AxtellBrooke Axtell is the Director of Communications and Engagement for Allies Against Slavery, a non-profit devoted to ending human trafficking. She also founded Survivor Healing and Empowerment (S.H.E.), a healing community for survivors of rape, abuse and sex-trafficking. Brooke performed with Katy Perry and spoke on domestic violence at the 2015 Grammy Awards. Her speech has been shared around the world. In her interview with The Pixel Project, she points out: “We also need to engage boys in conversations about how masculinity is constructed in our culture and discuss the ways violence and domination is tied to ideas of manhood. They need alternatives to oppressive masculinity and a path where they can express their power by being of service and creating justice in their communities. We can encourage them to build, not destroy. We can affirm the expression of a full range of emotions and model life-giving intimacy.”

Pixel Project Blog Interview Selection #3: Survivor Stories Interview: Bukola Oriola – Nigeria and the USA.

Bukola OriolaBukola Oriola is an award winning journalist and a survivor of labour trafficking. She has put her experiences together in form of a book – Imprisoned: The Travails of a Trafficked Victim. She was awarded Change Maker 2009 by the Minnesota Women’s Press for her courage. Oriola is the producer of Imprisoned Show, a TV talk show dedicated to educating the public about human trafficking and founder of The Enitan Story, a nonprofit organisation in Minnesota with a mission to advocate for victims and empower survivors of human trafficking and domestic abuse. She says: “One way that we can end violence against women is through education. We cannot spend enough or too much money creating awareness because education is empowering. I believe that the more we talk about this issue, the more we will be able to prevent it from occurring and recurring.”

Pixel Project Blog Interview Selection #4: Inspirational Interview: Charlotte Farhan, United Kingdom

Head shot of Charlotte Farhan - photography by Lisa ReeveCharlotte Farhan is the Managing Director and co-founder of Art Saves Lives International (ASLI), an international visual artist, a published illustrator, feature writer, the Editor and chief of ASLI Magazine. Charlotte is an active campaigner and activist for many issues, such as mental health awareness, women’s rights, and fighting against rape culture. Charlotte talked to The Pixel Project about the role of art in helping survivors recover, saying: “I know from studying psychology that when we experience trauma we dissociate and this can mean basic language is lacking from our ability to speak of what happened to us. Art tends to be visual or sound based which helps survivor’s access traumatic events which are stored in our implicit memory which is our sensory memory rather than our narrative memory. So when suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, this kind of approach and art based therapy can allow a safer place to express emotions and thoughts which one has no vocal language for.”

Pixel Project Blog Interview Selection #5: 30 For 30 Father’s Day Campaign Interview – Craig Wilkinson, South Africa

Craig WilkinsonCraig Wilkinson lives in Cape Town with his wife and 2 children, Luke (21) and Blythe (18). He is a TEDx speaker and author of the book, “DAD – The Power and Beauty of Authentic Fatherhood” which he wrote after receiving a letter from his 18 year old son thanking him for all he had done and meant to him as a father. Craig runs a non-profit organisation called Father A Nation (FAN) and gives keynote talks and workshops on masculinity and fatherhood. In his interview with The Pixel Project, he says: ” The first and most important thing that fathers and role models need to do is demonstrate by their lives the value of women and how to treat them with honour and respect. […] Secondly he needs to teach younger men in words and actions how to be a gentleman and treat women. Real men use their strength to love, serve, protect and provide, never to abuse or dominate or take what is not his to take.  This is a message that men need to give to the younger generation by what they say and what they do.”

Pixel Project Blog Interview Selection #6: Inspirational Interview – Hera Hussain, Pakistan and the United Kingdom

Hera HusseinHera 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 & the organisations supporting them. Raised in Pakistan and living in London, Hera knew from early on she wanted to empower women and found herself drawn to tech start-ups and the ways technology can be utilised to solve social issues. When talking to The Pixel Project about Chayn and the power of technology to stop VAW, 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. From finding sources of help to escape abuse, tackle mental health issues, find refuge to educate themselves and finding ways to earn money – there is no limit to how we can use the appropriate technology to enable women to become creators of their own fate.”

Pixel Project Blog Interview Selection #7: Inspirational Interview: Joe Samalin, India and the United States of America

Joe SamalinJoe Samalin is currently Senior Programme Manager for Community Mobilisation & Community Development with Breakthrough, a global human rights organisation that works to challenge the culture of violence against women and girls. He has been working to address VAW since he was an undergraduate student, and as an activist and organiser addresses domestic violence, sexual violence, and anti-stalking, through training and programming with hundreds of people and communities on these issues. Joe talked to The Pixel Project about how college students and alumni can help stop VAW on campus: “If just 10% of college alums reached out to their alma maters and asked questions about sexual violence on campus and what their school is doing about it and how they can help what a difference that might make. If first year students learned about this issue and came into that first year already knowing what questions to ask, what consent is, how to create a culture free from sexual violence, then that would be huge. If faculty included information about the issue in their syllabi; if parents got involved in tackling this issue — there’s so much potential.”

Pixel Project Blog Interview Selection #8: Inspirational Interview: Kit Gruelle, United States of America

Kit Gruelle 1Our first Inspirational Interview of 2015 was with Kit Gruelle, activist, community educator and subject of “Private Violence”, an intimate and compelling documentary on domestic violence which premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and on HBO in October 2014. Private Violence is described as shedding “light on the cycles of abuse and the shortcomings of law enforcement and the justice system with extraordinary courage.” Executive Producer Gloria Steinem partnered on Private Violence because she felt it “exemplified domestic abuse better than any film [she] had ever seen.” When talking about ending VAW for good, Kit says: “It will take more men taking a stand, too. If men begin to realise that any man’s violence against any woman reflects badly on all men, perhaps we’ll start to get somewhere. But it will take us working together. I believe we can do it.”

Pixel Project Blog Interview Selection #9: Survivor Stories Interview: Kristen Paruginog – United States of America 

Kristen Paruginog_croppedcomKristen Paruginog is a domestic violence survivor, speaker, advocate, social media guru, blogger, former national and local pageant titleholder, and international spokesperson for the non-profit organisation,Break the Silence against Domestic Violence. In her interview with The Pixel Project, Kristen talks about the importance of sharing stories as part of the survivor’s journey towards healing and helping others heal: “I began sharing my story which helped me gain my confidence back, and it gave me my purpose in life. When I share my story, I know at least one person will relate to it – by that one connection that person then learns they are not alone and that we can do this together.”

Pixel Project Blog Interview Selection #10: Inspirational Interview – Lara Tabet, Lebanon and the United Kingdom

Lara TabetLara is a civil engineer in the UK who has always been passionate about bridges and also gender equality and women’s rights. Originally from Lebanon, Lara is a board member and head of the UK chapter of CLIMB and believes that the the fight for women’s rights and specifically that against sexual abuse is not an easy one but it is not one to give up either. Through the years Lara has mentored young girls through their teenage years to become strong and confident women who challenge the status quo and pursue their dreams. When talking about  how climbing and being physically active can help survivors heal, she says: “After a trauma, physical self-care is as important as and drastically linked to emotional self-care, and even more so when the trauma is a physical one. Carrying out activities, such as climbing, that would make one regain energy is a good way to feel healthy and in control. From another perspective, physical activity is the best known way to release the feelings of anger and hate that eat at you after being sexually assaulted.”

Pixel Project Blog Interview Selection #11: Survivor Stories Interview – Lauren Reid, Canada

Lauren ReidLauren Reid is the founder of the When You’re Ready Project, an online community for survivors of sexual violence to share their stories and connect with one another. Since launching the project in December 2014, she has discovered a new passion for activism and a source for healing in her connections with other survivors. Lauren’s advice to other VAW survivors is this: “Talk about it, write about it – find a way to get it out. Our brains process trauma in mysterious ways – so many that science doesn’t even yet understand – but many survivors report feeling alone, scared, blaming themselves, or distorting or suppressing the memories. I did all of those things; and still suffer from many symptoms of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Even if you’re not ready to report to law enforcement, find someone to talk to. You will be astonished by how many women who have experienced the same thing.”

Pixel Project Blog Interview Selection #12: 30 for 30 Father’s Day Campaign Interview: Pau Almuni – Spain

Pau AlmuniPau Almuni is the father of two and an entrepreneur in many places, and also in business. He manages and pushed to create fatherhood groups in Barcelona. In 2015, after taking part in The Pixel Project’s “30 For 30” campaign, he decided to organise the Spanish version of the campaign in order to encourage more Spanish dads to raise their voices against VAW. He tells The Pixel Project: “Men can raise their voices when they see any act of violence, even micro-violence. They can publicly show their feelings. They can organise and attend fatherhood groups, where fathers can talk about fatherhood and be conscious of how it can affect their kids’ lives. They can support men’s roles as caregivers, and empower women as a way to shift the balance between genders.”

Pixel Project Blog Article Selection #13: 30 for 30 Father’s Day Campaign Interview: Samuel Leadismo, Kenya

Samuel Leadismo 1Samuel Leadismo is the founder of Pastoralist Child Foundation whose mission is to eradicate Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and forced childhood marriages of girls in the Samburu and Maasai communities in Kenya. When talking about getting men and boys on board the cause to end violence against women, he says: “I believe men and boys can play a role in preventing and stopping violence against women. Men can join women and girls in challenging violence and oppression globally and help create a place where people of different backgrounds, lifestyles, and communities can learn and feel safe by listening and caring for each other.”

Pixel Project Blog Article Selection #14: Survivor Stories Interview – Sandra Pickens, USA

Sandra PickensSandra D. Pickens, M.S. is the author of “Summer Internship,”  her debut publication. Sandra is a huge proponent with working with the Native American community in creating awareness of domestic violence and sexual assault issues. Her dream is to open her own transitional women’s facility for survivors of domestic violence and mentally ill single women. In her interview, she talks about the important of education in breaking the cycle of violence: “If it is generational violence, we need to deal with the abusers to get them out of that mindset that it is okay to hit women. We need to educate our young girls and women that they do not have depend on another person to take care of them and that if someone says they are pretty, that does not necessarily mean that he likes them.”

Pixel Project Blog Article Selection #15: Inspirational Interview – Tim Matsui, United States of America

Tim Matsui is an Emmy-nominated visual journalist and filmmaker focusing on human trafficking, alternative energy, and the environment. Tim’s clients have included Newsweek, Stern, Der Spiegel, GEO, Wired and many other domestic and international publications.  Tim seeks to inform and engage viewers through his projects, using media for social change. His most recent project is the feature documentary film “The Long Night”  and the accompanying audience engagement project “Leaving the Life“.  “The Long Night” has recently won First Prize for Long Feature from World Press Photo. During his interview with The Pixel Project, he says: “[We can stop VAW] by respecting women and girls. It’s as simple as that. Men and women need to create an environment where girls and women are empowered and valued. We must be a compassionate society. And a line I use from a spoken word poet is this: It’s not what we tell our daughters, it’s what are we going to teach our sons.”

Pixel Project Blog Article Selection #16: Inspirational Interview: Tony Porter, United States of America

Tony Porter Action 2Tony Porter  is an educator, activist, lecturer and author who has been working in the social justice arena for over twenty years. He is both nationally and internationally recognized for his effort to prevent domestic violence and sexual assault, while promoting healthy and respectful manhood. Tony is the co-founder of A CALL TO MEN: The Next Generation of Manhood. He is the author of “Well Meaning Men… Breaking Out of the Man Box – Ending Violence Against Women” and visionary for the book, “NFL. When talking about the importance of engaging men in the anti-VAW cause, Tony says: “One of the ways to engage men effectively is to meet them where they are at and speak about the women they love and care about. We have to find ways to reach in and grab the hearts of men. This is not an academic experience, this needs to be a transformative experience. We need to engage men to engage men; to seek out men whom other men look up to and engage them in being part of the solution.”

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Photo credits:

  • Bala Sasetu – Photo courtesy of Bala Sasetu
  • Brooke Axtell – Photo courtesy of Brooke Axtell
  • Bukola Oriola – Photo courtesy of Bukola Oriola
  • Charlotte Farhan – Photo courtesy of Charlotte Farhan; Photographer: Lisa Reeve
  • Craig Wilkinson – Photo courtesy of Craig Wilkinson
  • Hera Hussain – Photo courtesy of Hera Hussain
  • Joe Samalin – Photo courtesy of Joe Samalin
  • Kit Gruelle – Photo courtesy of Kit Gruelle
  • Kristen Paruginog – Photo courtesy of Kristen Paruginog
  • Lara Tabet – Photo courtesy of Lara Tabet
  • Lauren Reid – Photo courtesy of Lauren Reid
  • Pau Almuni – Photo courtesy of Pau Almuni
  • Samuel Leadismo – Photo courtesy of Samuel Leadismo
  • Sandra Pickens – Photo courtesy of Sandra Pickens
  • Tim Matsui – Photo courtesy of Tim Matsui
  • Tony Porter – Photo courtesy of Tony Porter

16 Powerful Public Service Announcements Saying NO To Violence Against Women

Untitled-1For decades, Public Service Announcements (PSAs) have been used by government agencies, charities/nonprofits, and advocacy groups to encourage people to raise awareness about a number of social issues like drugs, alcohol abuse, education, etc. PSAs went from strength to strength as the variety of media channels advanced from print and radio ads in the early days to the invention of television.

Today, with a significant chunk of the world connected – and connecting – through the internet, PSAs have now taken on a completely new role.  PSAs, along with the social media phenomenon of ‘viral videos’, have been breaking new ground in all fields, especially when it comes to raising awareness and educating the public about violence against women (VAW). With YouTube being the second most popular and second largest search engine in the world after Google, video-based social media communities have become a vibrant breeding ground for more and more creative expressions to encourage the conversation around VAW.

This year, as a part of The Pixel Project’s ’16 for 16’ campaign, we have selected 16 of the most innovative PSAs addressing various facets of VAW from across the world. While they may be produced in different areas of the globe, these videos have universal appeal and have reached out to millions of people across country or continental boundaries.

Here is our list – we hope it helps spark much-needed conversation about VAW in your families and communities.

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

Written and compiled by Rubina Singh. Additional PSA selections by Regina Yau.

Call To Action: Help us reach the $25,000 fundraising milestone for our Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign this holiday season by giving generously to our “16 For 16” fundraiser (which also includes #GivingTuesday)! Find out more and donate to get awesome book and music goodies at http://is.gd/16DaysGT2015 

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PSA Selection #1: End Violence Against Women Arab Region PSA – UN Women, Global

[TRIGGER WARNING: This video contains footage that may be disturbing for VAW survivors] This video is part of a series of three PSAs by UN women addressing VAW in the Arab region. This particular video addresses the issue of VAW in conflict zones and has been produced in English, French and Arabic. The other two videos can be viewed here and here:

PSA Selection #2:  Ending Violence against Women – Bangkok Mass Transit Authority and UN Women’s Regional Office for Asia, Thailand

Produced by the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority in collaboration with UN Women, this PSA showcases the extent of VAW around the world and urges commuters to support the local “Love Without Violence” campaign. The video was broadcast on public buses in Bangkok to encourage people to speak up and report cases of VAW.

PSA Selection #3: How To Be More Than A Bystander – The Ending Violence Association of BC, Canada

This PSA, which shows viewers how to take action to stop the harassment of women, is part of a series of PSAs developed by the Ending Violence Association of British Columbia, Canada. The videos were shown during major sporting events in British Columbia. The entire series can be viewed on YouTube here.

PSA Selection #4: “Isn’t It Time Someone Called CUT!” – Women’s Aid, United Kingdom

[TRIGGER WARNING: This video contains scenes that may be distressing for domestic violence survivors] This PSA by Women’s Aid UK features movie star Keira Knightley being abused by her partner and eventually pans back to that the scene is happening at a film set, but the only people there are Keira and her partner. When this PSA by Women’s Aid UK made its debut on cinema screens as part of the preview run before the movies begun as well as on YouTube, it created an uproar and sparked plenty of conversation due to its explicit depiction of domestic violence.

PSA Selection #5: It’s Your Fault – All India Bakchod, India

This PSA by a group of comedians in India called the All India Bakchod (AIB) talks about a number of common commentaries that survivors of VAW are subjected to, not just in India but across the world. As a sarcastic take on victim blaming, it definitely drives the point home.

PSA Selection #6: ‘Le Film Choc’ – Fédération Nationale Solidarité Femmes (FNSF), France

[TRIGGER WARNING: This video contains scenes of sexual assault and domestic violence that may be distressing to some survivors] Fédération Nationale Solidarité Femmes, a women’s rights coalition in France which campaigns to end domestic violence through awareness and education (including training employers healthcare professionals, social workers, psychologists and other professionals likely to come in contact with abused women), made this stark video showing domestic abuse and sexual assault in a number of different contexts, including in same-sex relationships.

PSA Selection #7: ‘Let’s End Violence Against Women’ – UN Women, Global

London-based advertising agency Leo Burnett produced this public service announcement (PSA) for UN Women. The video uses a series of striking images to show how violence against women is one of the most common forms of violence in the world.

PSA Selection #8: ‘Monsters in the Closet’ – Domestic Violence from a child’s view’ – the Verizon Foundation and National Domestic Violence Hotline, USA

This powerful animated PSA talks about how domestic violence impacts women and children. Narrated by a child, the video depicts the cycle of violence and the drastic effects of witnessing domestic violence as a child.

PSA Selection #9:‘Slap Her’ – Fanpage.it, Italy

This controversial viral video shows how young boys react to VAW. The boys are asked to slap a young girl in front of them and every single one of them refused to do so, stating that abusing a girl is wrong.

PSA Selection #10: ‘Stairs’ – Bundesverband Frauenberatungsstellen und Frauennotrufe (BFF), Germany

[TRIGGER WARNING: This video contains scenes that may be disturbing to survivors of domestic violence] Made by BFF, a coalition of more than 160 women’s counselling centres and rape crisis centres in Germany, this video shows women ‘falling down stairs’, an excuse commonly used by domestic violence victims when asked about their bruises and injuries by people outside the family or marriage. The video urges the people to pay attention and to take action to help stop the violence.

PSA Selection #11: Teenage Rape Prevention Advert – The UK Home Office, United Kingdom

[TRIGGER WARNING: This video contains scenes that may be disturbing to survivors of rape and sexual assault] According to the UK’s Home Office, Research shows that many young people suffer from rape and serious sexual assault in their relationships. So the Home Office made this video to target teenagers to help them understand rape and sexual assault in the context of their relationships, and does so by highlighting the importance of consent in sexual relationships.

PSA Selection #12: The”Bell Bajao” series – Breakthrough India, India

These PSAs are part of a series of videos which highlights the creative ways that men and boys who are bystanders can take to intervene in situations of domestic abuse. ‘Bell Bajao’ or ‘Ring the Bell’ encourages viewers to intervene in a safe way to let the abuser know that their behavior is unacceptable. Check out the rest of the “Bell Bajao” series via this YouTube playlist.

PSA Selection #13: The Johannesburg Drums Experiment – POWA, South Africa

Check out this very creative PSA by POWA (People Opposing Women Abuse) which shows how neighbours typically intervene in any situation in their neighbourhood other than domestic violence situations. The silence is deafening.

PSA Selection #14: The NO MORE campaign’s “Speechless” PSA series – The Joyful Heart Foundation, USA

This video is part of a series of PSAs by the No More campaign by actress Mariska Hargitay’s Joyful Heart Foundation.It features the Law & Order: SVU cast and a number of celebrities urging people to start a conversation about VAW and to take action to stop it in their homes and communities. Check out the rest of the series via this YouTube playlist.

PSA Selection #15: ‘Who Are You’ – The ‘Who Are You’ Coalition, New Zealand

[TRIGGER WARNING: The video contains scenes that may be disturbing for survivors of rape and sexual assault] ‘Who Are You?’ is a free toolkit that uses group exercises and a short film to educate young people about the prevention of sexual violence and ethical sexual decision making. This powerful video is a little longer than the standard anti-VAW PSA, aiming to thoroughly address the important role that bystanders play in the prevention of sexual assault and rape.

PSA Selection #16: ‘Who Will You Help’ – Ontario Government, Canada

This video from the Ontario government shows a series of scenarios where being an active bystander can prevent VAW. It encourages viewers to take action in situations of violence and harassment.

16 Activists and Organisations Working Online To Stop Violence Against Women

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With the 21st century in full swing, the internet has become an integral part of everyday life for much for the world. From shopping to social lives, we have become increasingly reliant on the internet to get things done, as well as to communicate with other people. The younger generations, starting with Millenials, have never grown up in a world without the internet. With the increasing affordability and ubiquity of portable technology such as laptops, smartphones, and tablets, even the most remote of locations are getting online and getting connected. Indeed, the UN has even declared internet access a universal human right.

The internet, however, is a double-edged sword. While it has helped everything from business to education take massive leaps forward faster than ever, online communication platforms and communities such as blogs, social media networks, chatrooms, and forums have also helped amplify some of the worst aspects of humanity including misogyny and Violence Against Women (VAW). According to UN Women, “cyber VAWG already exists in many forms, including online harassment, public shaming, the desire to inflict physical harm, sexual assaults, murders and induced suicides”.

The anti-VAW movement has taken on the cyber VAW fight in two major ways. They use social media and other online platforms to educate, raise awareness, raise funds, and to turbo charge the fight against VAW and sexism. Crucially, anti-VAW activists are also finding ways to effectively tackle the tidal wave of cyber-VAW using tactics ranging from rallying individuals and organisations to unite against VAW to pushing social media companies to become more accountable for taking action to stamp out VAW in their communities.

The 16 activists and organisations listed below have been at the frontline of digital anti-VAW activism in the last decade as social media started its unstoppable rise to prominence. From providing an anonymous blog platform for survivors to tell their stories to creating viral educational videos to working with Facebook and Twitter to stop VAW on their watch, each of them have stepped up to take on this new frontier in the fight to end VAW. We hope their work inspires you to do so too.

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

Call To Action: Help us reach the $25,000 fundraising milestone for our Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign this holiday season by giving generously to our “16 For 16” fundraiser (which also includes #GivingTuesday)! Find out more and donate to get awesome book and music goodies at http://is.gd/16DaysGT2015 

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Recommendation #1: Aimee Smith

Aimee Smith_croppedAimee Smith is the pseudonym of a blogger who shares her story of rape survival.  On her blog One Woman, Smith inspires women to come forward (anonymously if preferred) and share their stories of survival too.  “If we can help even one woman deal with her pain, we will be succeeding”, says Smith.  When she’s not helping others, Smith is teaching, parenting, playing the piano and being nominated for the One Lovely Blog Award.

Recommendation #2: Anita Sarkeesian

Anita Sarkeesian_croppedAnita Sarkeesian is the pop-culture media critic who made headlines when she launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to support her production of a video Web series called Tropes vs Women in Video Games, which explores female stereotypes in the gaming industry. Her feminist critique of the gaming industry has garnered an ongoing vitriolic online backlash, including threats of death, sexual assault and rape, most recently escalating to hounding her out of her home and forcing her to cancel an event at Utah State University due to the threat of a mass gun massacre.

Recommendation #3: Breakthrough

breakthroughBreakthrough is a global human rights organisation based in both the U.S. and India. They work to make violence and discrimination against women and girls unacceptable via cutting-edge multimedia campaigns, community mobilisation, agenda setting, and leadership training equip men and women worldwide to challenge the status quo and take action to address and end violence against women and girls. Online campaigning is one of their key strengths – one of their best known online campaigns is their “Bell Bajao” campaign featuring YouTube videos that encourage the viewer to take action to stop domestic violence by ringing the bell. “Bell Bajao” has been adapted by domestic violence organisations in other countries including China and Vietnam.

Recommendation #4: Caroline Criado-Perez

Caroline Criado PerezCaroline Criado-Perez is a freelance journalist and feminist campaigner who successfully campaigned to persuade the Bank of England to include a prominent woman (Jane Austen) among an otherwise all-male group of British luminaries on the back of British currency. The success of the campaign made her and other women the target of numerous threats of rape and murder on Twitter from the day of the Bank of England’s announcement in July 2013. She fought back against the abuse publicly, which resulted in Twitter’s general manager in Britain, Tony Wang, announcing a one-click option on all posts enabling users to easily report abusive tweets, where previously there was no recourse for victims of online harassment on Twitter.

Recommendation #5: Jessica Valenti

Jessica_Valenti_in_March_2014_croppedJessica Valenti is the founder of Feministing.com and the author of four books on feminism, politics and culture, and. Her newest book, Sex Object, will be out in 2016. She is also a daily columnist and staff writer for Guardian US where she writes about violence against women and gender inequality. The Guardian has named her as one of their “top 100 women” for her work to bring the feminist movement online. Her work has also appeared in Ms.,The Nation, The Washington Post, TPMCafe, and Alternet.

Recommendation #6: June Eric-Udorie

June Eric-UdorieJune Eric-Udorie is a 16 year old campaigner against female genital mutilation, writer, and member of  Plan UK’s Youth Advisory Panel where she sits on the Board of Trustees. She advocates for women’s rights and is passionate about ending violence against women and girls. Udorie protests (both online and offline) against victim blaming, supports the empowerment of girls, blogs for New Statesman, and has written for Girls’ Globe and the Telegraph. In April 2015, Udorie petitioned against Sussex Police after they produced objectionable anti-rape posters. The posters were taken down within 72 hours. She was nominated for the Red Women of the Year Award 2015.

Recommendation #7: Meltem Avcil

Meltem Avcil_croppedIn 2007, at the age of 13, Meltem Avcil was placed in the Yarl’s Wood immigration centre, Bedfordshire, UK, with her mother. There she witnessed women (like her mother) who had fled their home countries due to VAW, and were placed in a prison-like space. In a Cosmo article, Avcil is quoted as saying that, “These women have experienced torture, rape, violence, sexual abuse. They have been tortured mentally and physically. So when they come to this country to seek refuge, they’re being tortured again by being put in prison.” As a result of her experience, Avcil has started a change.org petition and called on the UK’s on Home Secretary Theresa May, to end the incarceration of abused women seeking asylum.

Recommendation #8: Nuala Cabral

Nuala Cabral_croppedNuala Cabral created a short film in 2009 called Walking Home, to address street harassment. The film was uploaded to YouTube and was watched by tens of thousands. After Walking Home went viral, the film won the Speaking Out Award at the non-profit Media That Matters Film Festival.  Cabral is a cofounder of FAAN (Fostering Activism and Alternatives Now), a media literacy and activism project that focuses on transforming the way women of colour are depicted in the media. To achieve this and as part of their community engagement, FAAN offers and facilitates a range of workshops, presentations and professional development around media literacy, social media activism and creating media for social change.

Recommendation #9: Raquel Evita Saraswati

Raquel Evita Saraswati is the first woman under the age of 30 to receive a Durga Award for dedication to ending gender-based violence, FGM and forced and child marriages. Saraswati has spoken out publically against honour killings all over the world and has written for prestigious media outlets while campaigning vigorously online via her blog and Twitter where she has over 20,000 followers. Her new initiative is called Adalah: Ending Gender-Based Violence and will focus on “a holistic approach to ending gender-based violence”.

Recommendation #10: Soraya Chemaly

Soraya Chemaly is a feminist media critic and activist whose work focuses on women’s rights, freedom of speech, and the role of gender and violence in politics, religion and pop culture. She is a contributor to Salon, CNN, The Huffington Post, The Guardian, The Nation, Ms. Magazine, and Time and her work is also regularly published in gender-focused media. In May 2013, she teamed up with Women, Action, and The Media (WAM!) to organise a successful global social media campaign demanding that Facebook recognise misogynistic content as hate speech. She works regularly with social media companies to address gender-based inequalities.

Recommendation #11: Stop Street Harassment

SSH-New-LogoStop Street Harassment (SSH) is a non-profit organisation dedicated to documenting and ending gender-based street harassment worldwide. It started as a blog in 2008 by founder Holly Kearl and quickly went from strength to strength over the last 7 years as Kearl built a fast-growing community to push back against street harassment. Today, SSH runs the highly successful International Anti-Street Harassment Week every Spring, using social media, their website resources, and their mailing list to organise groups and tens of thousands of people around the world to take action against street harassment in their community. SSH also continues to collect and document stories of street harassment submitted by women and girls worldwide.

Recommendation #12: Take Back The Tech

Take Back The TechTake Back The Tech! was initiated in 2006 by the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) Women’s Rights Programme and was created as a call to everyone, especially women and girls, to take control of technology to end violence against women. It’s a global, collaborative campaign project that highlights the problem of tech-related violence against women such as cyberstalking, together with research and solutions from different parts of the world. The campaign offers safety roadmaps and information and provides an avenue for taking action. The collective runs several campaigns every year, and their biggest annual campaign takes place during 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence (25 Nov – 10 Dec).

Recommendation #13: The Pixel Project

Pixel Project ThumbnailThe Pixel Project is a global virtual non-profit working to raise awareness, funds, and volunteer power for the cause to end violence against women (VAW) worldwide. They focus on online campaigns which combine social media, new technologies, pop culture, and the arts. Their campaigns span a range of online tools and social media including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google Hangouts, YouTube, and blogs, tailoring these online platforms to reach, involve, and mobilise a wide range of social demographics for the cause including VAW survivors, fathers, music artistes, authors, geeks and book lovers, pet lovers, and foodies. Their flagship campaign is the Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign – a crowdfunding campaign which aims to get donors worldwide to reveal a million-pixel collage of 4 celebrity male role models by donating a dollar a pixel.

Recommendention #14: UN Women

UNwomen-Logo-Blue-TransparentBackground-enThe United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), is a United Nations entity working for the empowerment of women. One of their key focal issues is violence against women (VAW) and in the last decade, they have successfully leveraged the power of the internet and social media to rally the global community to take action to stop VAW. In 2009, they launched the SayNO – UNiTE to end Violence Against Women campaign which aimed to raise at least 1 million actions to stop VAW (and succeeded). In 2014, they launched the #HeForShe campaign with Harry Potter star Emma Watson as the ambassador to get men and boys to step up to end sexism, misogyny, and VAW.

Recommendation #15: Women, Action, and The Media (WAM!)

WAM! states that they are a “nonprofit dedicated to building a robust, effective, inclusive movement for gender justice in media”. Founded by feminist activist Jaclyn Friedman, WAM! runs a variety of campaigns that aims to change the way online and traditional media treat and portray women and girls. WAM! has broken new ground with getting social media giants such as Facebook and Twitter to become more pro-active in addressing online harassment and misogyny that take place on their sites. In November 2014, WAM! collaborated with Twitter to address the online harassment of female Twitter users. In May 2013, WAM! took on Facebook with an open letter signed by more than 100 anti-Violence Against Women organisations demanding that Facebook recognize misogynistic content as hate speech. They won.

Recommendation #16: Yas Necati

Yas NecatiYas Necati is an 18 year old activist who describes herself as a “full-time patriarchy-smasher”. In 2013, she launched a campaign called #BetterSexEducation due to the UK’s Sex and Relationships Education out-dated curriculum. Nescati helps run the Campaign4Consent, which aims to make consent and information about sexual assault part of the UK’s Sex and Relationships Education curriculum. She is managing editor of Powered By Girl and a member of No More Page 3. And if all of the above isn’t enough, Necati is also writing a book on feminism for teens.

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The Pixel Project Selection 2015: 16 films about violence against women

Film-Reel-225x300 (1)In this day and age, film is a particularly effective medium for teaching and learning. This is why, for the past four years, The Pixel Project has been publishing lists of powerful films, documentaries and television shows that seek to inform and educate the public about the worldwide scourge of violence against women, its various forms, and what everyone can do to stop and prevent it.

In recent years, mainstream film has been slowly moving away from traditional sexist portrayals of women and VAW, both following and informing a trend in popular culture to be more respectful and aware of women’s rights. This year’s Mad Max: Fury Road, a blockbuster action film starring Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy, is a shining example of a film that used no gender stereotypes and that ignited lots of discussion on gender roles and portrayals. This is certainly a big step in the direction of gender equality but there is still, of course, much more to be achieved.

This year’s list of films and documentaries portray women and girls from diverse backgrounds who all have one thing in common – they are victims and survivors of violence against women. Though many of them may be difficult to watch because they deal with harrowing subjects in an explicit manner, it is important to watch them because they are portrayals of the truth. We hope that they will inspire you to join us in our quest to end violence against women and to be a catalyst of change in your own community.

Written and compiled by Anushia Kandasivam. Additional selections by Catalina Rembuyan and Regina Yau.

Call To Action: Help us reach the $25,000 fundraising milestone for our Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign this holiday season by giving generously to our “16 For 16” fundraiser (which also includes #GivingTuesday)! Find out more and donate to get awesome book and music goodies at http://is.gd/16DaysGT2015 

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Selection Number 1: A Daughter’s Debt

One of the first films to explore women’s issues among the Hmong people, A Daughter’s Debt follows three generations of Hmong-American women as they talk about cultural practices that include bride purchase, polygamy and marriage by capture, and how these practices affect them in their community in the United States. The film was screened at the recent Cannes Film Festival as part of the Short Film Catalogue.

Selection Number 2: A Handful of Ash

For almost a decade, reporters Nabez Ahmad and Shara Amin shed light into one of the most taboo topics in Kurdish society: female genital mutilation. They took their documentary, A Handful of Ash, which was produced in 2003, to the Kurdish Parliament, allying with a German-Iraqi non-governmental organisation, Wadi. At first, no one paid attention except for a few female politicians. But the film and the campaign was the start of a movement. Three years later, Human Rights Watch released a report on female genital mutilation in Kurdistan. In 2011, female circumcision was outlawed across Iraqi Kurdistan. In 2013, two years after the campaign’s success, The Guardian released a 17-minute condensed version of A Handful of Ash, viewable of their website.

Selection Number 3: After the Rape: The Mukhtar Mai Story

[Trigger warning: This video contains descriptions of rape] Mukhtar Mai is a Pakistani woman from a rural village who was gang-raped on the orders of a local tribal clan as a form of honour revenge in 2002. Mukhtar defied custom to speak up and report the rapes to the authorities. Mukhtar’s bravery and quest for justice ignited a series of events that has led to more awareness of women’s rights in rural Pakistan. Realising that education holds the key to changing society’s mentality, Mukhtar opened two schools for girls in her village as well as a crisis centre for abused women.  The documentary follows the progress of the school and tracks the profound impact that education and access to the crisis centre has empowered women and girls in this rural part of Pakistan.

Selection Number 4: Daughters of Mother India 

In 2012, a young woman was violently gang-raped and murdered in New Delhi. The incident sparked widespread outrage, generating discussion and criticism of India’s long history of gender violence and inequality, precipitating public protests against the state and central governments for what was seen as continued failure to provide security for women in India. Daughters of Mother India documents the response of Indian policy makers and activists to the epidemic of sexual violence in the country. The film has received strong commendations and high praise from viewers both within India and beyond.

Selection Number 5: Forced 

Calgary filmmaker Iman Bukhari wanted to bring to light the fact that forced marriages happen in a first-world nation such as Canada. Her documentary sheds light on the continuing cycle of forced marriages in families and though the film does emphasise that these marriages can happen to any gender, it follows the story of a female victim and features interviews with a mother who forced her daughter into marriage. Bukhari has stated that her intention for Forced is to open a dialogue about forced marriages with the aim of bringing the issue out into the open and helping to end the cycle.

Selection Number 6: GTFO

This documentary is about the pervasive misogyny and abuse of women in the gaming world. It documents not just gamers but also female game designers, developers, programmers and others in the gaming industry who consistently receive abuse for being the ‘wrong’ gender in what is still a boys’ club, as well as the abuse and intimidation of women who speak out against it. Documentary maker Shannon Sun-Higginson was inspired to make the film after watching a clip from a major gaming competition in which a player repeatedly sexually harassed his teammate.

Selection Number 7: Hey…Shorty

Inspired by the now iconic 1998 documentary on street harassment War Zone, this short documentary was created and produced by five interns at Girls for Gender Equity (GGE), an organisation in Brooklyn, New York, committed to the physical, psychological, social, and economic development of girls and women. The filmmakers, who ranged from 15 to 18 years old, spent eight months interviewing young women of colour in their neighbourhood about the impact of street harassment on their life. The documentary also features interviews with several men of colour, both young and old, about their intentions behind the behaviour, and examines the root causes of the phenomenon of the harassment of women in public spaces.

Selection Number 8: It Happened Here

[Trigger warning: description of rape and examples of rape threats] This documentary is about the pervasive and seemingly unstoppable phenomenon of sexual assault on the campuses of American colleges and the apathy and dismissive behaviour of the authorities involved. The film contains personal testimonials of five survivors and reveals their struggles to get justice and the blame they face from those who should be on their side. It also serves as a mouthpiece for these women and others who are speaking out against the institutionalised cover-ups of campus sexual assaults.

Selection Number 9: Out in the Night

This documentary asks the question: Do women have a right to defend themselves against street harassment? The film follows the story of four young African-American lesbian women who were walking through a New York neighbourhood one night in 2006 when they were confronted, harassed and assaulted by an older man. When the man became violent, the four friends fought back to defend themselves. When the police arrived at the scene, the women were arrested. They were subsequently charged with gang assault, assault and attempted murder. The film follows the lives of the women and explores how race, gender, gender identity and sexuality plays a part in violence perpetrated on strangers, especially women. It also discusses how these factors were sensationalised and criminalised by mainstream news media.

Selection Number 10: Provoked

This 2006 film starring Bollywood leading lady Aishwarya Rai tells the story of Kiranjit Ahluwalia, an Indian woman in an arranged marriage who moves to the UK with her husband, and who later kills him after enduring years of abuse. The film follows her trial, incarceration and subsequent appeal in court. In real life, Ahluwalia’s appeal became a landmark case in British law and is still used as precedent today; it changed the legal definition of the word ‘provocation’ in cases of domestic violence so as to reclassify her crime to manslaughter instead of murder. Ahluwalia’s case also created awareness of domestic violence amongst immigrant families in the UK.

Selection Number 11: Rape on the Night Shift

[Trigger warning: Survivor accounts in this video include vivid descriptions of sexual assault.] This documentary, a collaboration between PBS Frontline and The Center for Investigative Reporting at the University of California Berkley, tackles an issue that probably has never been explored in film before: the sexual abuse of immigrant women in the janitorial industry in the United States. The assaults are perpetrated by co-workers, managers, building supervisors or security guards. The film features firsthand accounts from survivors and explores and reveals the dangers and difficulties confronted by these women working in low-paying jobs in deserted buildings at night.

Selection Number 12: Searching for Angela Shelton

In this award-winning documentary, filmmaker Angela Shelton drives around the United States looking for and surveying other women named Angela Shelton. Shelton’s search for other Angela Sheltons started as a simple effort to locate as many women with the same name across the United States as she could. When speaking with the women, she found that about 70% of them were survivors of childhood sexual abuse or other forms of domestic violence. This, coupled with events in her own childhood, when she and her siblings were sexually molested by her father and stepmother, inspired her to make the documentary wherein she interviews the other Angela Sheltons, culminating in her confrontation with her father. Following the documentary, Shelton created a Survival Manual to help survivors of violence heal: www.survivormanual.com

Selection Number 13: Speak

At first glance, this film seems to be a typical teen movie, but it actually deals with a little covered topic – teen sexual assault. The film is told from the perspective of Melinda Sordino (Kristen Stewart), a sardonic teen who starts a new year of high school as a selective mute. She is ostracised by her peers and labelled her a ‘squealer’ as she had called the police to a house party. The truth about why she did this is not revealed until much later when Melinda herself comes to terms with her trauma and finds the courage to speak out. Based on the Laurie Halse Anderson novel of the same name, the film shows how sexual assault can damage a young person’s sense of identity and explores the difficulties victims face in verbalising their trauma and telling a person in authority what happened.

Selection Number 14: The Hunting Ground

The Hunting Ground is a documentary that exposes and discusses rape culture on American university campuses. Aired at the Sundance Film Festival this year, the film sparked strong reactions, gaining almost unanimous praise from critics and a standing ovation from audiences, but also passionate denial and skepticism from some viewers. Inspired by The Invisible War (selection number 15), The Hunting Ground follows Andrea Pino and Annie E. Clark, two survivors of sexual assault on campus who refused to be intimidated or silenced by their respective school administration and became activists on rape culture. A day before the film was released in theatres, the Campus Accountability and Safety Act was re-introduced by a bipartisan group of US Senators accompanied by Pino and Clark.

Selection Number 15: The Invisible War

This award-winning documentary is an investigation into rape and sexual assault within the United States Armed Forces. It features interviews with veterans from various branches of the armed forces, journalists, advocates, mental health professionals and members of the military justice system, among others, and touches on the inadequate care for survivors of sexual assault, failures to address incidences of sexual assault and forced expulsion of survivors from service. The film, which calls for changes to the way the military handles reports of sexual assault, has won numerous awards and has had some influence on government policies aimed at reducing the prevalence of rape in the armed forces.

Selection number 16: The Storm Makers

This Cambodian-French co-production documents human trafficking in Cambodia where most of the victims of human trafficking are young women who are lured with promises of better opportunities abroad. In reality, they are held prisoner and forced to work in horrific conditions, sometimes as prostitutes.This film follows the story of a particular young peasant woman, Aya, who was sold to work in Malaysia aged 16, where she did not receive any salary and was beaten and abused. She returned to her village with a child, the result of rape. It also documents the lives of two powerful traffickers known as ‘Storm Makers’.

The Pixel Project’s VAW e-News Digest – The ’16 for 16’ 2015 Edition

News-Coffee9-150x150Welcome to our annual Special Edition of The Pixel Project’s VAW e-News Digest for the “16 For 16” campaign. In this edition, we bring you the top 16 news headlines in each category related to violence against women from the past year.

2015 saw landmark decisions by countries to eradicate female genital mutilation as Nigeria and Gambia both outlaw the practice and the United Kingdom makes it compulsory to report its occurrence. Initiatives against domestic violence have also seen progress with countries adopting new measures to help protect women. Silicon Valley giants like Twitter, Reddit and Google have also taken steps to decrease occurrence of violence against women online.

To start off, here are the 16 of the biggest trending VAW headlines of 2015:

Every contribution matters. If you have any news you’d like to share about violence against women, please email The Pixel Project at info@thepixelproject.net. If you prefer to receive up-to-the-minute news concerning violence against women, follow us on Twitter . It’s time to stop violence against women together.

Best regards,
The Pixel Project Team


Violence Against Women – General


Domestic Violence


Rape and Sexual Assault


Human/Sex Trafficking


Female Genital Mutilation


Forced Marriage and Honour Killing


Activism

16 Ways That Kids and Teens Can Help Stop Violence Against Women and Girls

Violence Against Women (VAW) is one of the biggest and most brutal human rights issues in the world with 1 in 3 women experiencing some form of gender-based violence at some point in their lives. Like many human rights issues, VAW affects not just adults but also kids and teenagers. Many women and girls face domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, street harassment, cyber-VAW, human trafficking, and forced prostitution. Certain forms of gender-based violence such as female genital mutilation (FGM), breast ironing, and child marriage are performed exclusively on girls under the age of 18.

VAW is perpetuated, enforced, and normalised by centuries of social and cultural norms which work to preserve the patriarchal status quo in all but a handful of cultures worldwide. To effectively end VAW for good, advocates, activists, and communities need to take the long view because it would take several generations of progress before change can be permanent… and it has to begin with children and young people.

Educating children and teenagers about sexual consent and gender equality is an important part of changing the world into one where women and girls can reach their full potential in safety and peace. However, we also need to get young people involved in actively preventing and stopping the violence.  Indeed, in recent years, a movement of young people from teenage Nobel Peace Laureate Malala Yousafzai to 18-year-old Afghani Rap artiste Sonita Alizadeh have risen to fight for an end to VAW and ensure a better future for them and their sisters.

As a starting point for all kids and teens out there, here are 16 ideas that you can put into action to help stop VAW. This is just a starting point. If there are alternative ways in which you feel they can contribute, do it because helping end violence doesn’t come with an age restriction.

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

Written by Samantha Carroll and Regina Yau. Introduction by Regina Yau.

Call To Action: Help us reach the $25,000 fundraising milestone for our Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign this holiday season by giving generously to our “16 For 16” fundraiser (which also includes #GivingTuesday)! Find out more and donate to get awesome book and music goodies at http://is.gd/16DaysGT2015 

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At School

Ideas For Kids and Teens #1: Recognise the Signs. Recognising the signs is the first step towards helping prevent and intervene to stop VAW. Forms of VAW that kids and teens might come across in their communities and among their peers include relationship violence, street harassment, rape/sexual assault, child/forced marriage, and female genital mutilation – all of which can affect girls under the age of 18. Each type of VAW carries certain signs that you can spot if you know what to look for. For example: Some of the signs to be aware of when you are in a relationship or someone you care about is in a relationship, are control and manipulation, jealousy bordering on possessiveness, belittling, an unpredictable temper and isolation from social circles and family. So make an effort to learn what the signs are and you may well be able to save a girl or woman’s life or change it for the better.

Ideas For Kids and Teens #2: Demand For Education. Officially, school is where you get your formal education – where you learn maths, languages, history, and science. Unofficially, school is also where you learn to fit into society by knowing what is normal and what is unacceptable. This includes relationships and gender roles. So get pro-active with creating a school culture where misogyny, sexism, bullying, and VAW is not tolerated. Some actions you can take include: rallying your school to invite experts, anti-VAW activists and abuse survivors to talk about VAW with everyone. Lobbying for your school to offer a proper sex education module which includes the subject of sexual consent and healthy respectful relationships.

kids-reading-1-1470509Ideas For Kids and Teens #3: Read! Read! Read! Reading is one of the ways that we get to step into other people’s shoes, and the Young Adult (YA) genre does a great job at helping us understand the feelings of girls who have experienced rape or who are stuck in abusive relationships.  Books dealing with subjects of violence toward girls and women help us empathise with those who have been affected by abuse. Talk to your school librarian and your teachers – ask them if it’s possible to include YA books that deal with these issues. If your school has a reading club, suggest a few YA titles for the entire group to read. No luck with your school librarian or your school doesn’t have a reading club? Get a group of friends together to pool some money to buy the books and take turns to read them. Here are a few books to get you, your friends, and your school started: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, Don’t Breathe a Word by Holy Cupala, and SLUT by Katie Cappiello & Meg McInerney.

Ideas For Kids and Teens #4: Boys – Call It Out. If you are part of a sports team or any other all-male club at school or if you go to an all-boys school, chances are you would have heard some of your male peers speak disrespectfully about your female peers, female teachers, or female coaches using derogatory words such as “bitch”, “slut”, “whore” and so on. You might even have heard them crack jokes rape jokes, or witnessed some of them behave aggressively towards women and girls. Don’t stay silent – speak up and call out such behaviour when you come across it. Do it one-on-one or in a small group if you are all friends. If your peers who need to be called out are extremely dominant or hold more social power in your group than you do, seek out an adult for help with dealing with the situation before it escalates, be it a male teacher who is strongly anti-bullying or a coach who will not stand for sexist behaviour. Need more ideas? Check out the resources offered by the White Ribbon Campaign which is the largest movement of men and boys in the world fighting to end VAW.

Ideas For Kids and Teens #5: Girls – Support Your Sisters. In many cultures and communities, women and girls often have only one ally when facing down misogyny and VAW – other women and girls. However, many women and girls are also socialised to uphold these norms. For example: Grandmothers and mothers in various African and Asian cultures still play an instrumental role in perpetuating the custom of female genital mutilation. Part of helping stop VAW is by supporting other women and girls in defiance of (and to dismantle) cultural and social norms. Girls need to champion one another by mentoring and helping each other achieve their goals, and celebrating each other’s successes. And if you see your female peer face any form of VAW, get all your female friends together to stand up with her and for her.

Ideas For Kids and Teens #6: Take Action Together. Don’t think that you can’t help change things for women and girls because you’re “just a kid”. There’s nothing more powerful than kids standing up for the rights of their peers. Even more powerful would be kids standing together to stop VAW in schools and communities. This can be done in many ways ranging from two friends banding together to face down the Slut-shaming of a classmate,  to starting a feminist club at school where members can take collective action such as starting petitions to stop a classmate from being forced to marry and staging sit-ins to demand for stronger anti-bullying measures.

Ideas For Kids and Teens #7: Honour and Observe Awareness Days. Many schools honour and observe major festivals and public holidays as well as annual events such as Sports Day, Children’s Day, and Homecoming. So why not similarly honour and observe the various international awareness days related to women’s human rights, gender equality, and VAW, as part of efforts to stamp out VAW at school and your wide community? Some of the most high profile awareness days include International Women’s Day (March 8th), International Day of the Girl (October 11th), and the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence (November 25th – December 10th). Some of the ways in which you can get your school and/or peers involved. For example: older teens and college students can working with a supportive teacher or professor to put on a play such as The Vagina Monologues on the day itself or use the day to hold talks about VAW.

Ideas For Kids and Teens #8: Stop Slut-shaming NOW. We’ve all heard the tired old clichés trotted out when people discuss rape and sexual assault cases: “She was wasted”, “she was wearing a short skirt”, “she was asking for it”.  Even in cases when a woman or girl has said no during before or during a sexual altercation, she will more likely than not be blamed for the incident of rape by her peers and community, and even her family. Slut-shaming leads to victim blaming – don’t do it. Do this instead: speak up when other kids do it to a female classmate; don’t put down female friends and classmates who wear sexy clothes; push back against ridiculous double standards for school attire where boys are allowed carte blanche and girls are given a ridiculously long list of what not to wear.

At Home and in the Wider Community

Ideas For Kids and Teens #9: Ring The Bell. If you are the neighbour of a family experiencing domestic violence, please take the time to ring their bell when you hear a violent situation happening. Do it safely – Ask a grown-up you know to go with you to intervene by using the old neighbourly approach of asking to borrow a cup of sugar or some milk as an excuse. If no grown-ups are around and you’re out with your friends when you hear or witness domestic violence, gather your courage and ring the bell as a group – you could save someone’s life by interrupting the violence. Check out what this group of kids did in a PSA by our partner, Breakthrough:

Ideas For Kids and Teens #10: Use Your Birthday For Good. For your next birthday, start a collection drive by asking your friends and family members to contribute items needed by your local women’s shelter instead of bringing you a birthday gift. There are plenty of women’s shelters that accept donations in the form of clothes, bed linens, grocery gift cards, feminine hygiene products, toys and books for kids, and diapers for young children.  Encourage your female friends and family members to donate clothing that they no longer need.  It is important that the clothing donated is still usable, as some of the women receiving the clothes will likely wear donated items to job interviews or legal settings such as divorce/custody court.

Ideas For Kids and Teens #11: Volunteer In Your Spare Time. Young people are a talented bunch, so transform your talents into a superpower for good by helping anti-VAW organisations to raise funds or get things done. Here are just some of the things that you could do: If you are a whiz at building websites and programming, check in with local crisis centres that could use help keeping their websites up, or could just need computer assistance and maintenance. If you’re good at Photoshop, sign up to help design posters and flyers for your local women’s shelter’s next fundraiser. If you are well-versed at using Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram or any other social media networks, offer to help keep your local anti-VAW organisation’s social media account up-to-date.

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Ideas For Kids and Teens #12: Social Media Rule #1 – Share to Care! If you’re a teenager on social media be it Tumblr, Instagram, or any other social media network, use your social media account to help raise awareness about VAW. Follow the social media accounts of anti-VAW activists and organisations and start sharing some of the news links, information, and pictures they share with their followers. You don’t need to reblog/retweet/share everything they do but if you see something you think is interesting, share it. Information is power and the one helping to spread the right information is powerful.

Ideas For Kids and Teens #13: Join The Online Intervention Brigade. According to UN Women, online VAW is rising as increased access to the internet collides with existing cultural and social norms that condone or perpetuate gender-based violence and misogyny. Young women in the age range of 18 to 24 are uniquely likely to experience online stalking and sexual harassment in addition to physical threats. If someone in your social media community exhibits this type of behaviour, take action to intervene safely in a number of ways. Talk privately to other members of the forum, page or community about what is happening and get their support to back each other up when facing down aggressive and misogynistic groups. Similarly, when you see someone courageously taking a cyber VAW perpetrator to task, chime in. This action has 3 effects: it lets the upstander know that someone else agrees with them; it signals to the victim that the community will not stand for the treatment she is receiving; and it lets the perpetrator(s) know that more than one person is calling out their behaviour.

Ideas For Kids and Teens #14: Break The Silence. Kids and teens from abusive families or communities that practice culturally-sanctioned VAW such as FGM are often taught or forced by grown-ups and elders to keep silent about what’s happening. Threats of punishment, guilt manipulation, and enforced isolation from the wider community are often used to keep kids and teens from getting help for themselves or their mothers and sisters. If you are a kid or teen in that situation, please know that you are not alone and that help is out there but you need to reach out to get it (or know how to accept it). Here are a couple of potential ‘first steps’ you can take: if you are part of an online community, reach out to your friends there to ask for help; if your teacher asks you to stay back because he or she notices that something is wrong, tell them what’s happening at home.

Ideas For Kids and Teens #15: Be A Friend. If you suspect that your friend and/or their female family member is suffering from any form of VAW, take action. Don’t stay silent if you notice bruises on them or that your friend has become uncharacteristically silent or angry all the time. Encourage your friend to talk about it with you and listen to them. If they are open to it, encourage them to report what’s happening to the authorities (and when they do, be there to support them). If you’re an older teen at a party, you see that your female friend is drunk, and a boy is propositioning her even though she cannot give consent, step in and offer to take her home if you can drive or order a cab and put her in it to send her home. If you feel like you are out of your depth about helping your friend, tell teachers, coaches, school counsellors and other grown-ups who can help.

Ideas For Kids and Teens #16: Adults Needs Reminders Too. Last but not least – grown-ups may be in charge but that doesn’t mean they are perfect or will do the right thing. Too many adults are good people who turn a blind eye when they see VAW happening. Some of them might feel that it’s pointless to intervene; some of them may be afraid to do so for fear of breaking social taboos; some of them may think that VAW is normal. If the grown-ups around you are reluctant to intervene to stop VAW happening to friends, neighbours, and family members because they believe it’s “none of our business”, give them a nudge to do the right thing by reminding them that VAW is wrong and woman and kids next door and/or in your family and community could get hurt or worse – killed.

As a young person, you have the power to shape a future where VAW becomes socially unacceptable. Someday, you might be that police detective who puts away a rapist, a teacher who stops a girl from being forced into marriage, or a politician who pushes through legislation to outlaw FGM for good. Today? Start by by doing what you can, where you are, with whatever you have – you never know whether one small action will start a whole movement for change.

16 Filmmakers Making Films About Violence Against Women (And Telling the Right Stories)

Films are a powerful storytelling medium. They have the ability to influence and change the world. How someone chooses to use this medium makes all the difference. In the last few years, a myriad of fiction and non-fiction films have been made about Violence Against Women (VAW) and other women’s rights issues. Many of these films have had a positive impact in the fight against VAW as they are often a powerful vehicle for educating the viewer about issues related to VAW.

For our ‘16 for 16’ campaign this year, we have compiled a list of 16 filmmakers making films about VAW and doing it the right way. These creative artists hail from different countries like Ghana, Iran, Pakistan, Canada and Sweden. They are united in their belief in and commitment to making films that tell stories of women from all walks of life. Many of these films have addressed issues that weren’t being talked about before and brought them into mainstream conversation.

This list encompasses filmmakers from across the globe and amongst their ranks are Academy Award winners and Indie directors. Their films have made an impact in one way or another and tackle different types of VAW in different cultures and communities. Together, they provide a thought-provoking no-holds-barred perspective on the entire issue. We hope that you’ll check out their films and share them with others to provide food for thought and a spur to action that might help your communities get motivated to stop VAW.

Written and compiled by Rubina Singh.

Call To Action: Help us reach the $25,000 fundraising milestone for our Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign this holiday season by giving generously to our “16 For 16” fundraiser (which also includes #GivingTuesday)! Find out more and donate to get awesome book and music goodies at http://is.gd/16DaysGT2015 

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Filmmaker Against VAW #1:  Abeer Zeibak Haddad – Palestine

Photo Credit: unavailable

Abeer Zeibak Haddad is a Palestinian filmmaker, theatre director and actor most well-known for her documentary, Duma (Dolls). Duma is a groundbreaking documentary which encourages survivors of sexual abuse to break their silence and speak out. This is one of the only films made about sexual violence in the Arab region. Abeer believes that the film will encourage more women to speak up and help end the cycle of violence against women in the region. Abeer is currently working on another documentary on honour killings.


Filmmaker Against VAW #2:
Deepa Dhanraj – India

Photo Credit: Aniruddha Chowdhury/MintDeepa Dhanraj is a noted Indian feminist and documentary filmmaker. She has been a part of the Indian women’s movement since the 1980s and continues to work for women’s rights causes. Throughout her filmmaking career, she has attempted to share the everyday fights of Indian women. Her most influential films Something like a War, Nari Adalat and Enough of this Silence have tackled subjects like family planning and women’s courts. Her latest film, Invoking Justice talks about the life of a young Muslim woman who challenges stereotypes in her community. A strong believer in participatory film making, Deepa uses her work as a tool to bring about change in communities.

Filmmaker Against VAW #3: Deepa Mehta – India and Canada

Photo Credit: Devyani Saltzman

An internationally acclaimed filmmaker, Deepa Mehta has been the force behind some of the most powerful films addressing VAW. Born in India and now settled in Canada, Deepa’s poignant films have been screened and received recognition at almost every notable film festival in the world. Her elemental Trilogy consisting of three films – Earth, Fire, and Water addressed issues like same-sex relationships and widow remarriage. A documentary, Let’s Talk About it followed by a fictional feature film, Heaven on Earth, broaches the subject of domestic violence. Her focus on creating films with strong female characters and sharing stories through their point of view has garnered her fame and appreciation across the globe.

Filmmaker Against VAW #4: Deeyah Khan – Norway

Photo Credit: Deeyah Khan

Norwegian-born Deeyah Khan is a critically acclaimed music producer, composer, Emmy and Peabody award-winning documentary film director and human rights activist. Her most acclaimed film work is an Emmy Award winning documentary, Banaz: A Love Story tells the story of the honour killing of a young British Kurdish woman who was killed by her own family for choosing to carve her own path in life. Her passion for the cause led her to co-develop the Honour Based Violence Awareness Network (HBVA) in 2012. Deeyah has also received several awards for her work supporting freedom of expression and in 2012 she was awarded the prestigious Ossietzky prize by Norwegian PEN. She is currently continuing her work as an artist and activist through FUUSE, her social purpose music and film company.

Filmmaker Against VAW #5: Elizabeth Tadic – Australia

Photo Credit: Unavailable

Elizabeth Tadic is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker, has spent a large part of her life in an attempt to share stories of marginalised people. Her work with the international television show, ‘Dateline’ as well as her filmmaking projects, have taken her to remote parts of the world. Her latest documentary, UMOJA: No Men Allowed has won 12 international awards since its premier in 2010. The film shares the incredible story of a village in Kenya, founded by women, for women. Elizabeth has also been awarded the United Nations Media Peace Award in 2006 for her impactful work in Television and Films.

Filmmaker Against VAW #6: Evan Grae Davis – USA

Photo credit: Unavailable

Evan Grae Davis is an activist and documentary filmmaker based in the USA. He’s the director of the acclaimed documentary It’s a Girl which highlights the prevalence of female infanticide and gendercide in India and China. The documentary has been appreciated all over the world for beautifully capturing the plight of over 200 million missing women. Evan also participated in and edited The Pixel Project’s “Who Is Your Male Role Model?: YouTube campaign featuring non-violent men from different walks of life sharing their views on how men can be positive role models in the fight against VAW. His video for the campaign can be seen here.   

Filmmaker Against VAW #7: Hossein Martin Fazeli – Iran

Hossein Martin Fazeli

For over 15 years Hossein Martin Fazeli has been making fiction and non-fiction films on various human rights issues including VAW. His most celebrated work, Women on the Frontline, talks about the women’s freedom movement in Iran. Over the years, he has received over 37 international awards for his work, much of which highlights socio-cultural issues in the Iranian region. He is currently working on two more feature documentaries on women’s issues including one on Phoolan Devi – the legendary ‘Bandit Queen’ from India.

Filmmakers Against VAW #8: Ilse and Femke van Velzen – Holland

Ilse and Femke van Velzen

Twin sisters Ilse and Femke van Velzen have been making hard-hitting documentaries on various social issues since 2002. Born in the Netherlands, they currently work independently under their own label, IF Productions. Their documentaries have had a strong focus on the developing world, particularly VAW. Fighting the Silence, a film highlighting the sexual violence against women and girls during the Democratic Republic of Congo’s war, gives voice to over 80,000 victims. The sisters also creatively use their films as sustainable educational projects. Through the Mobile Cinema Foundation they take films about sexual violence from one community to another to encourage a conversation around the subject.

Filmmaker Against VAW #9: Kim Longinotto – UK

Photo Credit: Sean Smith /Guardian

One of most internationally acclaimed filmmakers on this list, British born Kim Longinotto has been behind some of the most impactful documentaries on women in the last two decades. Since her first film in 1976, she has highlighted issues from Female Genital Mutilation to child marriage and prostitution. One of her most famous films is Pink Saris, where she shared the story of Sampat Pal, a child bride who grew up to lead the ‘Gulabi Gang’, a group of women who spoke up against corruption and violence in their community. She was awarded the prestigious BAFTA award for this film.

Filmmaker Against VAW #10: Lourdes Portillo – Mexico and the USA

Lourdes Portillo_croppedLourdes Portillo is a noted Mexican-American screenwriter and filmmaker. Passionate about filmmaking from a young age, Lourdes’ films have a special focus on Latin American, Mexican and Chicano issues. Her first film, Las Madres: The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo was nominated for an Academy award for best documentary. It told the story of a group of Argentine mothers who protested for their missing children. Another notable human rights documentary, Señorita Extraviada told the tragic story of hundreds of kidnapped, raped and murdered young women of Juárez, Mexico. This film allowed Lourdes to truly understand her role as a filmmaker and how films can be used to confront oppression.

Filmmaker Against VAW #11: Marcela Zamora Chamorro – Costa Rica

Photo Credit: Moonlight, Weddings & Events Photography.

Marcela Zamora Chamorro is an up-and-coming filmmaker who completed her journalism degree in Costa Rica and then joined the International School of Film and Television of San Antonio de los Baños, Cuba. Her first feature documentary, Maria in Nobody’s Land told the story of the illegal and extremely dangerous journey of three women to the USA. The courageous film has participated in film festivals in over 14 countries and received many awards.

Filmmaker Against VAW #12: Nima Sarvestani – Iran and Sweden

Nima Sarvestani_croppedNima Sarvestani started out his career as a journalist in Iran before moving to Sweden in 1984. He has since been working as a documentary filmmaker through his company, Nimafilm Production. Many of his films focus on socio-political issues in the Middle East. One of his standout films on women, No Burqas Behind Bars, looks at the stories of women prisoners in Afghanistan. Another gem, I was Worth 50 Sheep, shows the story of a child bride under the Taliban rule. Nima makes his documentaries with an acute sensitivity and has won a number of prestigious awards for his work.

Filmmaker Against VAW #13: Rebecca Barry – Australia

Photo Credit: Diane McDonald

A storyteller at heart, Rebecca Barry has been making thought-provoking films for the past decade. After graduating from the Australian Film Television and Radio School in 2003, Rebecca has been using the power of filmmaking to talk about social issues in Australia and across the world. Her 2013 feature documentary, I am a Girl, won her many accolades for showing the stories of six young girls from six different countries and the different issues that they face simply because they’re women. Through the film, Rebecca aimed to put a ‘human face’ to the horrifying statistics that she had read around VAW. She continues to make an impact through her media production company, Media Stockade, which specializes in documentaries and other factual programs.

Filmmaker Against VAW #14: Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy – Pakistan

Photo Credit: Unavailable

Oscar and Emmy award-winning filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy is one of the most well-known female filmmakers from Pakistan. Born in Pakistan and educated in USA, Sharmeen has made over a dozen documentaries highlighting various human rights and women’s rights issues. Her work has been so impactful that she was listed as one of Time Magazines 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2012. Her Academy Award winning documentary, Saving Face shares the story of a plastic surgeon who performs reconstructive surgeries on acid attack victims. Her other films such as Transgender: Pakistan’s Open Secret and Pakistan’s Taliban Generation have addressed difficult issues as well. Sharmeen hopes that through her films she will be able to give a voce to those who cannot be heard.

Filmmaker Against VAW #15: Shelley Saywell – Canada

Shelley Saywell_croppedBorn to a professor father and social worker mother, Shelley Saywell has been socially conscious from childhood. She started her filmmaking career in 1986 and has made more than ten hard-hitting documentaries on VAW and other human rights issues. Her passion and talent have won her a number of awards including an Emmy for her film, Crimes of Honour, which talked about the issue of honour killing and femicide. She is also the force behind films such as No Man’s Land: Women Frontline Journalists, In the Name of Family and Kim’s Story: The Road from Vietnam, all of which look at various perspectives of women’s rights.

Filmmaker Against VAW #16: Yaba Badoe – Ghana and the United Kingdom

 

Yaba_Badoe_CroppedBorn in Ghana, Yaba Badoe moved to the UK as a child to complete her education. She grew up to be a noted journalist, author and filmmaker. With a passion to share her ideas and shape the world, Yaba has created some beautiful, award-winning films around women. In 2010, she released The Witches of Gambaga, a film that told the story of a community in Ghana which condemned women as witches based on the death of a chicken. Horrified at the existence of such a situation in modern-day Ghana, Yaba captured the story on film and brought it into mainstream conversation. Her latest film, The Art of Ama Ata Aidoo, showcases the story of Africa’s foremost feminist writer Ama Ata Aidoo.

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Photo credits:

  1. The filming of “It’s A Girl” (top photo) – Photo courtesy of Evan Grae Davis
  2. Abeer Zeibak Haddad – From www.thisweekinpalestine.com
  3. Deepa Dhanraj – Photo from www.LiveMint.com/Aniruddha Chowdhury
  4. Deepa Mehta – Photo from www.hamiltonmehta.com/Devyani Saltzman
  5. Deeyah Khan – Photo courtesy of Deeyah Khan
  6. Elizabeth Tadic – Photo from Vimeo.
  7. Evan Grae Davis – Photo courtesy of Evan Grae Davis
  8. Hossein Martin Fazeli – Photo from www.fazalifilms.com/Hossein Martin Fazeli
  9. Ilse and Femke van Velzen – Photo from www.ifproductions.nl/Ilse and Femke van Velzen
  10. Kim Longinotto – Photo from The Guardian/Sean Smith 
  11. Lourdes Portillo – Photo from www.twitchfilm.com
  12. Marcela Zamora Chamorro – Photo from www.mediolleno.com/Moonlight, Weddings & Events Photography
  13. Nima Sarvestani – Photo from www.nimafilmsweden.com 
  14. Rebecca Barry – Photo from www.imdb.com/Diane McDonald
  15. Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy – Photo from www.sharmeenobaidfilms.com
  16. Shelley Saywell – Photo from www.wift.com
  17. Yaba Badoe – Photo from Wikipedia/Rashde Fidigo / ZIFF

The Pixel Project Selection 2015: 16 Authors Saying NO To Violence Against Women

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

With VAW being a taboo topic in many cultures and communities, pop culture media (including film, books and gaming) have become invaluable awareness-raising, advocacy and educational tools through which the anti-Violence Against Women (VAW) movement can reach out to educate communities and raise their awareness about VAW, to break the silence surrounding the violence and to inspire people to take action to stop this human rights atrocity.

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, 41 award-winning bestselling authors have participated in various Read For Pixels campaigns and initiatives, raising over $21,000 for the cause to end VAW to date. In this article, we honour 16 of this year’s bestselling authors from our 2015 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 in their write-up below to be taken to the YouTube video of their Read For Pixels Google Hangout or their blog articles.

NOTE: The Pixel Project is thrilled to note that we had our best ever author participation yet in 2015 with 25 authors taking part in Read For Pixels campagins throughout the year. Those not featured in this year’s list will be featured in next year’s list.

Written and compiled by Regina Yau. Google Hangout transcriptions by Anushia Kandasivam, Shreya Gupta, and Regina Yau.

Call To Action: Help us reach the $25,000 fundraising milestone for our Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign this holiday season by giving generously to our “16 For 16” fundraiser (which also includes #GivingTuesday)! Find out more and donate to get awesome book and music goodies at http://is.gd/16DaysGT2015 

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Author Against VAW 1: Charlaine Harris

Charlaine Harris Headshot_croppedCharlaine Harris is the New York Times bestselling author of the Sookie Stackhouse fantasy/mystery series, the Aurora Teagarden, Harper Connelly, and Lily Bard mystery series, and Midnight Crossroad, the first Midnight, Texas, novel. She has lived in the South her entire life. During her Read For Pixels Google Hangout, Charlaine talked about being a rape survivor, supporting other survivors in their journey, and tackling the issue of VAW in her stories. She said: “Women should be able to live their lives and say what they think without fearing physical retaliation . . . it is that simple! I just do not see how a society can miss that.”

Author Against VAW 2: Diane Chamberlain

Diane Chamberlain Headshot_compressedDiane Chamberlain is the international best-selling author of 23 novels published in more than twenty-five languages. Her most recent novel, THE SILENT SISTER, made the USA Today Bestseller List. Prior to her writing career, she was a hospital social worker and a psychotherapist in private practice. During her Read For Pixels Google Hangout, Diane talked about stopping VAW and the importance of including men and boys in the movement: “I really get upset over the idea of this ‘us versus them’ thing – that if women have more rights, then men have fewer rights. I really don’t think it’s a win-lose kind of situation, but I fear that is what happens most of the time. I consider myself a feminist but I also consider myself a ‘masculist’, where I just think we need to be as concerned about our boys and the messages we give our boys as we do our girls.”

Authors Against VAW 3: Jane Green

Jane Green headshotJane Green is the author of fifteen New York Times bestselling novels, including TEMPTING FATE. Initially known for writing about single thirty-somethings, Green has graduated to more complex novels that explore the concerns of real women’s lives, from marriage to motherhood to, most recently, midlife crises. During Jane’s Read For Pixels Google Hangout, she talked about the importance of having role models and relationship models as part of helping stop VAW and what authors can do through their work. She said: “As a woman myself, and having witnessed a couple of friends in abusive relationships, we don’t know what a healthy relationship is, we don’t know what to look for. I don’t know what to look for. I consider myself enormously blessed being married for the second time and … having an incredibly loving, supportive, healthy and functional partnership. […] I’m trying very hard in my books to model something that I’ve now been lucky enough to experience. I would like to think that somebody somewhere would read it and might perhaps question … the situation that they’re in.”

Authors Against VAW 4: Jaye Wells

Jaye Wells_highres_croppedJaye Wells is a USA Today-bestselling author of urban fantasy and speculative crime fiction. Raised by booksellers, she loved reading books from a very young age. That gateway drug eventually led to a full-blown writing addiction. When discussing solutions for stopping VAW, Jaye said: “I think fostering empathy is important on every level of this issue. It is just trying to be more kind to people and understanding where they are coming from and understanding what motivates them and looking for common ground. That is how solutions happen. But shouting at people builds walls and we do not need more walls. We need to break the walls down and come together as a society and say, ‘You know what, no violence! That is not who we want to be.’”

Author Against VAW 5: Jennifer L. Armentrout

JLA_Author-photo_Cropped#1 New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. Her book OBSIDIAN has been optioned for a major motion picture and her COVENANT series has been optioned for TV. When discussing how authors can support the movement to end VAW, she said: “One of the ways authors can support it is representing it in their books. I don’t know how many times I’ve received emails from people saying that they’ve read something in my book that honestly I never thought about…but they connected with that situation or that character and it gave them the opportunity to say to me ‘this is what happened to me’. And since they said it to me, they now feel empowered to say it to somebody else. So I think that sometimes by having those types of representations in their novels, you have no idea who you’re reaching and it could be that one thing that finally shows a woman or a child that ‘I need to get out of this situation’ or ‘I need to help get this person out of this situation’.”

Authors Against VAW 6: Jim C. Hines

Jim Hines_compressedJim C. Hines is the author of eleven fantasy novels, including the MAGIC EX LIBRIS series, the PRINCESS series of fairy tale retellings, the humorous GOBLIN QUEST trilogy, and the FABLE LEGENDS tie-in BLOOD OF HEROES. He’s an active blogger and has  won the 2012 Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer. Jim was a sexual assault counsellor and has written extensively about issues of violence against women, sexism, and misogyny in geek culture on his blog and is the only author who has a section dedicated to resources for rape survivors on website. He wrote this about VAW in the geek community: “People don’t choose to be raped.  People choose to commit rape.  If you make that choice, I don’t want you in my community. Can you imagine what would happen if, every time someone raped, assaulted, or harassed another person, the rest of us actually spoke out?  If we as a community let them know — clearly and loudly — that this would not be tolerated?  If we told those who had been assaulted that we would listen, and we would support them?” Check out Jim’s Read For Pixels Google Hangout here.

Authors Against VAW 7: Jonathan Maberry

FullSizeRender_croppedJonathan Maberry is a New York Times bestseller, a five-time winner of the Bram Stoker Award, and a comic book writer for IDW, Marvel and Dark Horse. He is the author of PATIENT ZERO, ROT & RUIN, THE NIGHTSIDERS, DEAD OF NIGHT and many novels; and his comics include MARVEL ZOMBIES RETURN, CAPTAIN AMERICA: HAIL HYDRA, V-WARS and BAD BLOOD. Several of his books are in development for TV and film. Jonathan survived his father’s domestic abuse and went on to spend twenty years teaching women, kids, and other at-risk groups self-defence. His message to men and boys everywhere: “We all talk about how to be tough, how to be strong. But being tough also means being fair and being tough means having the courage to do the right thing. And I want to speak to my fellow men out there – the tough guys out there – you wanna be tough? Stand side by side with women. Don’t be part of the conspiracy of abuse; don’t be part of its culture; don’t hit, don’t hurt, and don’t turn a blind eye.” Check out Jonathan’s Read For Pixels Google Hangout here.

Authors Against VAW 8: Kami Garcia

KamiGarcia_croppedKami Garcia is the #1 New York Times bestselling coauthor of the BEAUTIFUL CREATURES and DANGEROUS CREATURES novels & the author of the instant New York Times bestseller and Bram Stoker Award nominated novel UNBREAKABLE, and the sequel UNMARKED, in the LEGION series. BEAUTIFUL CREATURES has been published in 50 countries and translated in 39 languages. The film adaptation of Beautiful Creatures released in theaters in 2013, from Warner Brothers. When asked why she supports stopping VAW, she said: “Violence against women in the world, the fact that it is so acceptable, is so terrifying. […] I think that every single woman, every single girl, every single person has the right to feel safe.”

Authors Against VAW 9: Kate Elliott

Kate Elliott has been writing stories since she was nine years old. Her twenty-four science fiction and fantasy books include COLD MAGIC, SPIRIT GATE, KING’S DRAGON, JARAN, and her YA debut COURT OF FIVES. A new epic fantasy, BLACK WOLVES, which was published in November 2015. When speaking to The Pixel Project about how authors can help stop VAW, she said: “I think that [authors] can support organisations that are doing the work on the ground, we can think about these things when we write fiction. […] As writers, we can think about how that influences the kind of story we want to tell and how we want to portray society. Often [rape] is portrayed in a way that [the reader] is taking the perspective of the person inflicting violence […] We can choose what perspective we take. I think that is a really crucial part of fighting violence against women – bringing about a change in perspective so that we can hope to end it.”

Authors Against VAW 10: Kimberly Derting

Kimberly Derting_compressedKimberly Derting is the author of the award-winning THE BODY FINDER series, THE PLEDGE trilogy, and THE TAKING and THE REPLACED (the first two books in THE TAKING trilogy). Her books have been translated into 15 languages, and both THE BODY FINDER and THE PLEDGE were YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults selections. Kimberly is a survivor of childhood sexual assault and she said: “As an author […] I think it’s important to write unhealthy people and unhealthy relationships in the sense that I think it makes conversations start. I think if everyone just wrote happy stories that were pure and fun and everybody was healthy then there wouldn’t be a lot of conversation. I think talking about things…is what makes people start to come forward. I think a lot of issue books…are what make conversations start and actually a lot of kids will step forward because of those books. And those are not healthy relationships.”

Authors Against VAW 11: Leigh Bardugo

Leigh Bardugo credit Taili Song Roth_croppedLeigh Bardugo is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the GRISHA Trilogy: SHADOW AND BONE, SIEGE AND STORM, and RUIN AND RISING. She was born in Jerusalem, grew up in Los Angeles, and graduated from Yale University, and has worked in advertising, journalism, and most recently, makeup and special effects. When chatting to The Pixel Project about solutions for stopping VAW, Leigh said: “For me, the most effective thing you can do is take what you are seeing or feeling online and actually go out and do something. It’s actually not that hard to be involved in something […] I think sometimes one of the problems with social media is that if we want to tune out an uncomfortable message, we can. But we need to be uncomfortable. So if you have a platform to give other people it may be the best thing you can do.”

Authors Against VAW 12: Marie Lu

Marie Lu_compressedMarie Lu writes young adult novels such as the LEGEND series and has a special love for dystopian books. Ironically, she was born in 1984. Before she became a full-time writer, she was an artist in the video game industry. She graduated from the University of Southern California in ’06 and currently lives in Los Angeles. During her Read For Pixels Google Hangout, Marie talked to The Pixel Project about everything from role models to #Gamergate. She said: “We all are either women, or we know, we have mothers, and daughters, and sisters. We all know someone who has been affected by violence against women. So, this is a very personal issue. I can’t imagine not being affected by this message and not being a part of it.”

Authors Against VAW 13: Rick Yancey

Rick Yancey_croppedRick Yancey is the author of fifteen novels and a memoir. His books have been published in over thirty languages and have earned numerous accolades and awards from around the world. In 2010, Rick received a Michael L. Printz Honour for THE MONSTRUMOLOGIST. His latest novel, THE 5th WAVE, the first in an epic sci-fi trilogy, made its worldwide debut in 2013, and will soon be a major motion picture for GK Films and Sony Pictures.On the subject of role modelling healthy relationships for his 3 sons, he said: “It’s one of those obvious truths that probably should be said again – that a young male’s first exposure to a male-female relationship and how that looks is obviously between their parents. […] You better be careful how you’re treating each other because your sons are watching and you might not think you’re having an effect but you are.”

Authors Against VAW 14: Scott Sigler

New York Times best-selling author Scott Sigler is the creator of fifteen novels, six novellas and dozens of short stories. In 2005, Scott built a large online following by releasing his audiobooks as serialised podcasts. Scott is the co-founder of Empty Set Entertainment, which publishes his Galactic Football League YA series. When asked why he supports The Pixel Project, he said: “I don’t commit violence on women or children, and there’s a natural default in your head that says everybody is like that, that it’s just a few outliers who aren’t like that. But the more you look around the more you realise that’s not really the case. […] A group like yours, [is] able to contribute to somebody who trying to get their voice out there and make people aware of what’s going on – like the crisis hotlines that you always tweet out – before I saw those tweets it never even crossed my mind that people would not know where to go for help. So that’s why I’ve been supportive of it. Making people more aware of what’s going on is a good thing.”

Authors Against VAW 15: Tad Williams

Tad Williams 2012_croppedTad Williams is an international best-selling author of fantasy and science fiction. Since 1985, he has written 20 novels and 3 story collections, and his work has been translated into more than twenty languages. Tad’s stories have earned critical acclaim and are immensely popular with both fantasy and science fiction readers worldwide. Tad’s first novel, TAILCHASER’S SONG, is soon to be a CG-animated feature film from Animetropolis and IDA.  When discussing how he role models healthy relationships and respect for women and girls to his son, Tad said: “I have always done my conscious best to treat my wife […] as my equal partner […] and I have always tried to model that for my kids as much as possible. My son […] has the culture around him and a family and community that says ‘women and men – there is no difference in terms of value.’”

Authors Against VAW 16: Yasmine Galenorn

yg12-2014a_webYasmine Galenorn is the New York Times, USA TODAY, and Publisher’s Weekly bestselling author of the Otherworld series, , the upcoming spin-off series in the Otherworld altaverse–the Fly By Night series, and the upcoming Whisper Hollow paranormal romance/suspense series. In April 2012, she won a Career Achievement Award in Urban Fantasy at the Romantic Times Convention. During her Read For Pixels Google Hangout, Yasmine, who is a rape and abuse survivor, told The Pixel Project that authors can help the effort to stop VAW  “by not being afraid to speak out. […] violence against women is something that is so inherent, so much a part of my background in terms of being a survivors of it, how can I not speak out about it? And if some people get upset about it – too bad.”

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Photo credits

  • Charlaine Harris – Photo courtesy of Charlaine Harris and Ace/Roc/DAW Books. Photographer: Sigrid Estrada.
  • Diane Chamberlain – Photo courtesy of Diane Chamberlain
  • Jane Green – Photo courtesy of Jane Green. 
  • Jaye Wells – Photo courtesy of Jaye Wells
  • Jennifer L. Armentrout – Photo courtesy of Jennifer L. Armentrout
  • Jim C. Hines – Photo courtesy of Jim C. Hines
  • Jonathan Maberry – Photo courtesy of Jonathan Maberry
  • Kami Garcia – Photo courtesy of Kami Garcia. Photographer: Vanya Stoyanova
  • Kate Elliott – Photo courtesy of Kate Elliott
  • Kimberly Derting – Photo courtesy of Kimberly Derting
  • Leigh Bardugo – Photo courtesy of Leigh Bardugo. Photographer: Taili Song Roth
  • Marie Lu – Photo courtesy of Marie Lu
  • Rick Yancey – Photo courtesy of Rick Yancey
  • Scott Sigler – Photo courtesy of Scott Sigler and A Kovacs. Photographer: Joan Allen
  • Tad Williams – Photo courtesy of Tad Williams and Ace/Roc/DAW Books. Photographer: Deborah Beale
  • Yasmine Galenorn – Photo courtesy of Yasmine Galenorn

The Pixel Project Selection 2016: 16 Songs About Violence Against Women (and Staying Strong and Positive)

Girl-Playing-Piano-1-198x300Music can help us transcend our pain in a way that not many other art forms are able to.  Music makes us feel less alone in our struggles because it often expresses how we feel in ways we cannot articulate.  The Pixel Project believes in the power of music to heal, inspire, and send a strong message about violence against women. This is reflected in our ongoing Music For Pixels campaign through which we collaborate with various artistes around the world. This past summer, we held The Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert, a 12-hour music marathon concert on Google Hangout which featured 23 artists from 5 countries.

This year’s 16 selections of Songs About Violence Against Women and Staying Strong and Positive, are from different genres and decades to ensure that everyone can find a track to be inspired by.  And if our list fails to inspire, it is our sincere hope that you find the soundtrack to your life none the less, as everyone needs a set of songs they can relate to in times of adversity.

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

Written and compiled by Samantha Carroll

Call To Action: Help us reach the $25,000 fundraising milestone for our Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign this holiday season by giving generously to our “16 For 16” fundraiser (which also includes #GivingTuesday)! Find out more and donate to get awesome book and music goodies at http://is.gd/16DaysGT2015 

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Song Selection Number One: Anthem – Leonard Cohen

“There is a crack in everything / That’s how the light gets in.” Be unwavering in your conviction that everything will be all right and accept that perfection doesn’t exist – this is what Cohen is telling us with Anthem, a song that is as timeless as it is profound.

Song Selection Number 2: Black Eyes, Blue Tears – Shania Twain

With lyrics like “Definitely found my self-esteem / Finally I’m forever free to dream / No more cryin’ in the corner / No excuses no more bruises”, Canadian Country-Pop superstar Shania Twain’s Black Eyes, Blue Tears is a track that every survivor can rock out to, it’s a fierce and contains an authoritative NO! to abuse.

Song Selection Number 3: Extraordinary Machine – Fiona Apple

When Fiona Apple croons: “Be kind to me, or treat me mean / I’ll make the most of it, I’m an extraordinary machine”, she isn’t saying that she’ll take cruelty on the chin, she’s stating that she’s (to quote Marianne Williamson) powerful beyond measure.  It is only with an attitude of pure tenacity that we can rise up after a devastating fall.

Song Selection Number 4: Fight Song – Rachel Platten

We all have what Platten calls “wrecking balls” inside our heads.  This is especially true for anyone who has faced abuse and has had to deal with diminished self-esteem as a result.  Fight Song could be a metaphor for whatever it is that helps us recover and gives us hope and strength to bravely face another day.

Song Selection Number 5: His Daughter – Molly Kate Kestner

Kestner’s His Daughter is a heart-breaking ballad about a young girl who witnesses the unhealthy, abusive relationship of her parents and how it shapes the rest of her life. Children – particularly young girls – who have grown up in an environment where they have been subjected to domestic violence will relate to this song.

Song Selection Number 6: Just Because I’m a Woman – Dolly Parton

Country music isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but there’s no denying that it is a great genre for storytelling.  What Dolly Parton has given us with Just Because I’m a Woman is a relatable and candid understanding of what it is like to be a woman in an unequal, gender stereotyped society.  “My mistakes are no worse than yours / just because I’m a woman.”

Song Selection Number 7: Note to Self – Jake Bugg

Here’s an idea that many women may well be able to relate : as women, we sometimes forget how much we’re capable of, or we never learnt what we were capable of. Jake Bugg has a novel idea: write a note to yourself, say the things to yourself that you’ve always wanted to hear someone else say to or about you.  Bugg’s Note to Self reminds us that we need to be self-compassionate.

Song Selection Number 8: Salute – Little Mix

This track is a wonderful call to solidarity amongst women.  There is strength in supportive sisterhoods and Little Mix captures that perfectly when they sing: “Representing all the women, Salute!”  Little Mix’s audience is primarily young girls and what better a message to spread than one of female empowerment.

Song Selection Number 9: Sister – Andrew Belle

Andrew Belle’s Sister is about the way a sibling tries to understand the abuse hia sister is going through.  “He tried to kill you / and you allow it.”  The sibling sees all sorts of amazing qualities in her sister and can’t quite wrap her head around why or how she ended up in such a hostile situation.  Many survivors of abuse feel at some point that everyone deems them ‘stupid’ for being with an abusive partner.  Sometimes we forget that there are people in our lives, like the sibling in Belle’s song, who hold us in high esteem.

 Song Selection Number 10: Til It Happens to You – Lady Gaga

[TRIGGER WARNING: May be distressing to survivors of rape and sexual assault] Written by Gaga and Diane Warren for the documentary The Hunting Ground, which turns the spotlight on rape on college campuses in the U.S., Til It Happen to You is a raw and emotionally charged ballad.  The music video – directed by Catherine Hardwicke – is harrowing and intentionally provocative but drives home the reality of young women being assaulted and intimidated in educational environments.

Song Selection Number 11: Unpretty – TLC

Through TLC’s anthem Unpretty, we get to understand how a boyfriend or spouse can coerce us into believing we have physical flaws that need correcting.  The pressure of it all can leave us with little to no self-esteem.  “My outsides look cool / My insides are blue / Every time I think I’m through / It’s because of you”.

Song Selection Number 12: Welcome to My Truth – Anastacia

“Through it all / I’ve hit about a million walls / Welcome to my truth, I still love” Compassion is how we heal and learning to love again is part of that process.  The love that powerhouse Pop artiste Anastacia refers to in this song isn’t one of a romantic nature, it is a love steeped in empathy and benevolence.  Don’t let your abuser sully all that is still beautiful and sacred to you.

Song Selection Number 13: What it feels like for a Girl – Madonna

Madonna addresses misogyny and the stereotypical roles women are meant to play in society and focuses on the skewed notion that femininity or possessing feminine qualities, makes a person weak.  What it feels like for a Girl opens with dialogue by the character Julie, from the film The Cement Garden: “Girls can wear jeans and cut their hair short, wear shirts and boots. ‘Cause it’s OK to be a boy. But for a boy to look like a girl is degrading. ‘Cause you think that being a girl is degrading. But secretly you’d love to know what it’s like… Wouldn’t you? What it feels like for a girl.”

Song Selection Number 14: Whole Damn Year – Mary J. Blige

What happens to your relationship with men when you have been violated by a man?  Can you enter into a romantic relationship with a man again and will you ever be able to trust that he won’t abuse you?  These are the themes of Mary J. Blige’s Whole Damn Year.  “Gon’ take a long, long year for me to trust somebody.”

Song Selection Number 15: Yesterday is Gone (My Dear Kay) – Lenny Kravitz 

In Yesterday is Gone, Kravitz addresses a woman named ‘Kay’.  While we, the listeners, may not know who Kay is or what predicament she is in, the encouragement and wisdom the lyrics express is inspiring. “You can’t get nowhere / Staying at home and crying / You can’t go on living in the past / The one thing constant is that there is always change”

Song Selection Number 16: Young Hearts Run Free – Candi Staton

In 1976, Staton delivered this message of autonomy, and we’re still dancing to it today.  This song was written after Staton come through an abusive relationship herself and is a bold anthem about free love and independence. “I’m gonna love me, for the rest of my days / Encourage the babies every time they say / “Self-preservation is what’s really going on today””

16 Memorable Stories of Standing Up to Street Harassment 2015

holly1-200x300The Pixel Project is pleased to share the fifth 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

All visuals courtesy of Stop Street Harassment.


Empowering Response #1: #WhatMySHSaid – Instagram

Chloe Parker has been harassed since she was 12 years old. Now 17, she started an Instagram hashtag #WhatMySHSaid where people write their age and location and what their street harasser said to them. Many posts are liked thousands of times. Chloe wrote, “The average age is twelve [for the story submissions] and the average reaction is disbelief, but with the topic comes horrible responses as well. I have heard people defending these pedophiles who creep on these girls, or say that street harassment is because of what the girl was wearing. We live in a culture of blaming the victims, and by saying a twelve-year-old is asking to be followed as she walks home from school is a testament to this. We as a society can and should change this culture that we promote and live in. It should not be up to the victims to change their lives and patterns to make harassers comfortable. This is not a problem that should be ignored.”

Empowering Response #2: Parking Attendant Woes – Charlotte, North Carolina, USA

Every day for two weeks as a woman left a parking garage in Charlotte, North Carolina, the parking attendant would stare at her and say he wanted to see her smile and other similar remarks. She felt uneasy, and, as he continued day after day, she felt anxious and stressed. One day she pa0nicked and drove away while he was still talking. She resolved to talk to him and the next day. She asked him to stop telling her to smile as it made her feel uncomfortable. He said okay. She wrote, “I hope he’ll think before he makes these unwanted comments to anyone else. I didn’t complain to the company since he made an indication of respecting my wishes. I don’t plan to park there any more since I don’t want to see him again, but being able to say something took such a weight off my shoulders. I didn’t even realise how much this was affecting me until after I said something.”

Empowering Response #3: Standing Up Against Harassers – Kabul, Afghanistan

After witnessing a friend drop out of school because of harassment, Shafi in Kabul, Afghanistan, began standing up to harassers. She wrote, “Whenever I see people harassing girls or women in streets and university, I go to them and talk reasonably with them to stop them and explain to them that their act is wrong. I ask what if it happens to their sister or mother, what then? Now it is the time for everyone to start vanishing this bad and shameful culture. Yes, if we want to change then we can. We can start it right now!”

Empowering Response #4: Ladders Are Useful Items

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Empowering Response #5: Caught on CCTV

After a drunk man grabbed a woman on a subway and kissed her, she reported him to the transit police. They found him on the train’s CCTV and circulated his image to local police stations. She wrote, “If you experience street harassment, report it to the police. It will make you feel proactive and powerful – and they might even catch the perpetrator.”

Empowering Response #6: No Free Pass for the Police – San Jose, CA, USA

A woman in San Jose, California, noticed a police sergeant (not in uniform) exposing himself and masturbating in a car. She turned away but he drove his car and parked so she had to see him again. She took photos of him and his license plate and he fled. She filed a police report and the investigators discovered he was a 13-year veteran of the police department. He was arrested and placed on administrative leave.

Empowering Response #7: Taking Harassment Seriously – Liverpool, United Kingdom

Two men in a car in Liverpool, UK, harassed a Russian woman. She felt too scared to say anything, but she ran back, called the police, reported what happened and gave their license plate number. She wrote, “The inspector rang me back to make sure I know they take it seriously. Then after an hour a female officer came to see me. It turned out it was a crime as section 5 public order offence, besides it was gender-based. The officer visited his house, etc. He now has a criminal record. Ladies, you don’t have to take this shit!”

Empowering Response #8: Facing Down Harassers… and Winning! – Tennesee, USA

When Bryanna was in college in Tennessee, a group of men would hang out by the door and harass her daily with sexual slurs. She felt humiliated and would try to run past them before they could say anything. But one day she decided to confront them. She wrote, “They whistled and said, ‘Damn!’ really loudly. So I turned around, marched right up to them (at least eight of them) and shouted, ‘What do you expect to happen from this? Do you really think a girl will turn around and say ‘Oh wow that’s such a compliment, being told my ass is fine by these complete strangers. Do you want to hook up?’ Has it worked for you yet?’ By the look on their stunned faces, I answered for them, ‘No, I didn’t think so. Get a life!’ and stormed off. The rush I felt was incomparable to anything else. I felt strong – like I could take care of myself.”

Empowering Response #9: Singing Against Harassment

Singer Empress Of wrote a song about street harassment called “Kitty Kat.” She said in an interview, “I remember a stranger saying something nasty to me on the street while walking home. I was so mad, but I couldn’t say anything back at that moment. What would be the point? When I got back I started to work on this aggressive sound on a track. As soon as I turned the mic on to record, I started to sing what I wanted to say to that guy on the street, but now I get to sing it every night in front of a crowd.”

Empowering Response #10: “That’s NOT a compliment!” – San Diego, CA, USA

A woman was walking her dog through downtown San Diego, California, when a man told her, “You have no idea how badly I want to play with your boobs.” She told him that his comment was inappropriate and he apologised. But then he told her she should “take it as a compliment.” She had already passed him, but turned around to yell back, “That’s NOT a compliment!” She wrote, “Let the harasser know what he is doing is wrong and unwelcome and that it’s not a compliment in order to help convert him to viewing it as a bad thing.”

Poppy SmartEmpowering Response #11: Sparking a National Debate – United Kingdom

After weeks of trying various tactics for dealing with street harassers along her route to work in the UK (the harassment included men purposely blocking her path), Poppy Smart took the matter to the police. She said in an interview, “It made me feel really uncomfortable and the fact it went on for so long was the main reason I reported it. If it had just been an isolated incident – one, two, three, four times – maybe I could probably brush it off because these things happen and you have to kind of accept these people’s ignorance.” Poppy says she spoke to the owner of the building site. “He just sort of apologised. He obviously can’t control all of his staff all of the time and I appreciated that. I just wanted them to realise it is offensive and I wanted it to stop.” Her story sparked a national debate about the issue.

Empowering Response #12: Sanctuary from Harassment – New York City, USA

A man on the train in New York City rubbed his penis against a woman’s butt. She elbowed him but he kept doing it. Because of the crowd, she couldn’t easily get away. A woman nearby noticed what was happening and gave up her seat for her saying, “Come sit down, that man is trying to rub himself on you!”

Empowering Response #13: Not Remaining Silent – London, United Kingdom

Y.E. in London, UK, was the target of public masturbation on the Tube. No one else was on and when she moved away, he followed her, only zipping up his pants after a man entered the carriage. When YE got off the train, he followed and she ran to report him to a transit worker. The police took her report. She also decided to write about what happened. “I hesitated several times whilst starting to write this and contemplated just keeping it to myself, considering the crude nature of this incident. However, it has come to my attention that this is no longer becoming a ‘once in a blue moon issue’ and it could have easily been burdened on a child, family member, or another member of the public. Looking back at the past struggles in history, since when has any change occurred from remaining silent?”

smallstepsEmpowering Response #14: Anti-Street Harassment Workshops – Romania

Aila in Romania used to face harassment from high school students as she walked from her hostel to the university. Now she and a group of other women at the NGO FILIA are in the process of working with that high school to bring street harassment awareness workshops to the students. She wrote, “Change can be done. I am not a victim anymore, I am a person who can bring change and can help the other girls who are still living in that hostel.”

Empowering Response #15: Open Letter Tactic – Washington D.C., USA

 Sara in Washington, DC wrote an open letter to the man who harassed her. In it, she thanked a woman who spoke up. “To the woman on the sidewalk who said, ‘That’s so rude’ and shook her head when he drove off, thank you. Your three simple words in solidarity were my saving grace and snap back to reality, that no one, not even myself, has the right to disrespect my body. So, dear man in the blue minivan, I will use my body in the best way I know how — to share this story and inspire others to feel a little braver when they step into a crosswalk. To be what the woman on the sidewalk was to me: solidarity.”

Empowering Response #16: Reporting an Unwanted Grope – San Francisco, CA, USA

After a man groped AB at a shopping mall in San Francisco, California, she dropped her bag and ran after him. She lost him, but filed a police report. She wrote, “I’ve been harassed many times, but I’d never run after someone. Something snapped in me. And something broke when no one would help. I was proud that enough was finally enough, and I did something, even though he got away with it. At the very least, it’s caused me to talk about it and snap back when I get hollered at on the street.”