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

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

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

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

What these campaigns have in common are:

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

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

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

Written and compiled by Rubina Singh.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Francesca from Eliza Hatch on Vimeo.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo Credits

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Selection number 1: A Better Man

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

 

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

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

 

Selection number 3: A Walk to Beautiful

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

 

Selection number 4: Brave Miss World

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

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

 

Selection number 5: Calling the Ghosts

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

 

Selection number 6: God Sleeps in Rwanda

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

 

Selection number 7: Invisible Crimes

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

 

Selection number 8: Killer’s Paradise

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

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

 

Selection number 9: Little Stones

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

 

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

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

 

Selection number 11: Mrs Goundo’s Daughter

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

 

Selection number 12: The Accused

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

 

Selection number 13: The Handmaid’s Tale

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

 

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

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

 

Selection number 15: Very Young Girls

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

 

Selection number 16: Woman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Author Against VAW 1: Adrian Tchaikovsky

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

Authors Against VAW 2: Aliette de Bodard

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

Authors Against VAW 3: Charles de Lint

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

Authors Against VAW 4: Colleen Houck

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

Authors Against VAW 5: Elizabeth Bear

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

Authors Against VAW 6: Karen Chance

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

Authors Against VAW 7: Karen Rose

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

Author Against VAW 8: Ken Liu

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

Authors Against VAW 9: Martha Wells

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

Authors Against VAW 10: Martina Boone

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

Authors Against VAW 11: Mary Robinette Kowal

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

Authors Against VAW 12: Michelle Sagara

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

Authors Against VAW 13: Paul Tremblay

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

Authors Against VAW 14: Rachel Vincent

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

Authors Against VAW 15: Soman Chainani

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

Authors Against VAW 16: Susan Dennard

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

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Photo Credits:

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

The Pixel Project Selection 2017: 16 Books About Violence Against Women

Far from being merely a source of entertainment, it is through storytelling that culture and beliefs are framed, reinforced, and transmitted. More than that, stories have the power to fire the imagination and inspire new thoughts and ideas and thus shape – or reshape – the perspective of individuals, communities and cultures about everything from tradition to gender.

In recognition of the power of storytelling to inspire change, The Pixel Project has put together our 2017 selection of 16 books or book series that depict violence against women and girls. Some of these stories are popular fiction while others are strictly non-fiction. Nevertheless, all of them will educate the reader in some way about violence, rape culture, cultural mores and misogyny.

The books and book series in this list have been selected from a wide range of genres including thrillers, fantasy, science fiction, and investigative journalism. They all show a common trend of depicting entrenched and pervasive violence against women and sexism in the diverse societies and worlds that they portray while offering threads of hope as people and characters fight for a world where women and girls are free from abuse.

This list is by no means complete as there are hundreds of books out there that deal with violence against women in its various forms. However, we hope that these 16 books and series will be a starting point for you, as they have for others over the years, to push for change in your community and culture.

Introduction by Anushia Kandasivam and Regina Yau; Written and compiled by Anushia Kandasivam and Regina Yau

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Book Selection #1: A Safe Place (1997) by Maxine Trottier

This children’s book is about a little girl Emily who, together with her mother, goes to live in a shelter to escape her abusive father. At first Emily is scared of the new place and people but soon finds that the adults are kind and the children are friendly. Told from the child’s perspective, this book is for five-to seven-year-olds who may be experiencing similar circumstances and aims to teach them that there are places that are safe and that there are people, both adults and children, who understand what they have been and are going through and are ready to offer support.

Book Selection #2:​ ​ The “Cincinnati” series (2014 – ) by Karen Rose

The Cincinnati thriller series, comprising Alone in the Dark, Closer Than You Think and Every Dark Corner, follows two FBI special agents as they work to find young women and children who have gone missing as victims of a human trafficking ring. The series explores the dark and frightening underbelly of society, bringing to light some horrible truths about child pornography, human trafficking, and drug abuse and dependence. It also showcases characters who refuse to give up and who fight to reclaim their agency and freedom, recover from trauma, and help others in similar situations.

Book Selection #3: The “Courtyard of The Others” series (2013 – 2017)  by Anne Bishop

The Courtyard of The Others series revolves around Meg Corbyn, a young woman who is a cassandra sangue, or blood prophet who can see the future when her skin is cut. Meg’s Controller keeps her and other cassandra sangue enslaved so he can have full access to their visions in order to sell them to the highest bidder. When Meg escapes her owner and seeks refuge with the Others (including vampires and werewolves) who rule the earth, she sets in motion a tsunami of social change in the world. Through Meg’s story, Bishop deals with gender-based violence head on, including rape, sexual assault, domestic violence, slavery, and human trafficking; and she does so in powerful and thoughtful ways that make no bones of the fact that male violence and misogyny perpetuate violence against women.

Book Selection #4: The Girls at the Kingfisher Club (2014) by Genevieve Valentine

The Girls at the Kingfisher Club is award-winning science fiction and fantasy author Genevieve Valentine’s vivid reimagining of the fairytale of the Twelve Dancing Princesses as flappers during the Roaring Twenties in Manhattan. In this story, the main character Jo and her eleven sisters are controlled by their distant father who subjects them to financial and emotional abuse – aspects of domestic violence that are seldom addressed, much less explored, in books. Valentine’s deft depiction of the relationships between Jo, her sisters and her father show just how complex and damaging domestic violence can be, no matter what form it takes.

Book Selection #5: Hominids (2002) by Robert J. Sawyer

Hominids is the first book in award-winning Canadian science fiction author Robert J. Sawyer’s Neanderthal Parallax series, which centers around Ponter Boddit, a Neanderthal physicist from a parallel earth where Neanderthals were not subsumed by homo sapiens and have gone on to develop a radically different civilisation in which sexuality is fluid, gender equality is the norm and there is no rape. When he accidentally crosses into present-day earth, he ends up being accused of murder. Through this book, Sawyer does not just offer a vision of what a more equitable and less violent world might be like but also explores the issue of rape with respect and compassion through the main female character, Mary Vaughn, who survived a rape and continues to deal with the consequences of the attack throughout the book.

Book Selection #6: How to Run With a Naked Werewolf (2013) by Molly Harper

How to Run with a Naked Werewolf is the third book in Molly Harper’s Naked Werewolf series. The story opens with Tina Campbell, lately the human pack doctor for a community of werewolves, on the run from her abusive husband who has been relentlessly tracking her down since she fled their home. With the help of an anonymous code-named benefactor from a safety network specialising in relocating domestic violence survivors as well as a werewolf detective and the werewolf community she serves, her husband meets his comeuppance in the most satisfying way. Harper does not sugarcoat the danger and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) experienced by survivors and while the story seems fluffy, it treats domestic violence and its consequences seriously.

Book Selection #7: The “Lily Bard” series (1996 – 2007)  by Charlaine Harris

Charlaine Harris is a prolific urban fantasy and mystery author who is perhaps best known as the author of the Southern Vampire Mystery series upon which the HBO vampire series True Blood is based. However, perhaps the most harrowing and absorbing of all her works is the Lily Bard series where the titular heroine is a rape survivor who solves grisly murder mysteries in her adopted hometown of Shakespeare, Arkansas while rebuilding her life and grappling with her PTSD. Harris – herself a rape survivor – captures the ever-reverberating echoes of pain caused by the trauma of sexual violence while showing just how much grit and strength are needed to function and move forward after the attack.

Books Selection #8: ​Lucky (1999) by Alice Sebold

In this memoir, Alice Sebold looks back at the brutal rape she experienced while in university, its aftermath, and how it transformed her life forever. The memoir reads somewhat like detective fiction because Sebold, on the advice of one of her professors, strived to remember everything about the incident, her interactions with authorities, friends and family after the incident, and her feelings throughout. She explains how she was told she was ‘lucky’ because she was not killed and her attacker left evidence on her by beating her. This story provides invaluable insights into a survivor’s world and chronicles her long and arduous journey to recovery and saving herself from her trauma.

Book Selection #9: The “Mercy Thompson” series (20016 – ) by Patricia Briggs

Patricia Briggs’ werewolf-driven urban fantasy follows the adventures of Mercy Thompson, a coyote Shifter who was adopted into and raised by a werewolf pack but was sent away at sixteen when her foster father realised that his centuries-old son intended to marry her solely for breeding purposes. Throughout the books, Mercy battles against sexism and patriarchy as she educates her adoptive werewolf father and her werewolf husband about treating women with respect and as equals. Briggs also deals with the aftermath of rape with sensitivity when Mercy is raped, not just by tackling Mercy’s struggle with PTSD but also showing how family and community should ideally treat rape survivors.

Book Selection #10: Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town (2015) by Jon Krakauer

Between January 2008 and May 2012, hundreds of students in the highly-regarded state university in the college town of Missoula, Montana, USA, reported sexual assaults to the local police. Few of the cases were properly handled by the university and local authorities. In this dispassionate and meticulously researched book, acclaimed journalist Jon Krakauer investigates and studies acquaintance rape and the prevalent rape culture in the university, town and country, making it clear why rape is so prevalent on American campuses and why rape victims are so reluctant to report assault.

Book Selection #11: ​ The “Orphan X” series (2016 – ) by Gregg Hurwitz

Bestselling high-octane thriller writer Gregg Hurwitz’s latest series features Evan Smoak who is a 21st century feminist James Bond complete with a mentor who instills respect for women in him as part of his education and training as a second-to-none spy. Although the series only has two books so far, Smoak has come up against – and dismantled – human trafficking rings and violent pimps. Also commendable is Hurwitz’s inclusion of a wide range of well-rounded female characters in both the civilian and lone spy parts of Smoak’s double life, including a single mother who is also a district attorney, a sociopathic female spy and female clients who are tougher than they look.

Book Selection #12: “Push” (1996) by Sapphire

Push is told from the perspective of 16-year-old Precious Jones, who lives in Harlem, New York with her abusive mother and is functionally illiterate, obese and pregnant with her second child, the result of rape by her father. The novel details Precious’ journey from seemingly hopeless circumstances to learning how to read and write – as the book progresses, there is an improvement in the spelling and grammar – and her struggles through the welfare system, homelessness and escaping abuse. It also shows her growth in confidence and the realisation that despite what she has been told, her colour – Precious is African American – and her socioeconomic background are not necessarily the cause of her abuse. The 2009 film Precious was based on this novel.

Book Selection #13: The “Shifters” series (2007 – 2009)  by Rachel Vincent

Rachel Vincent’s five-book Shifters series is about Faythe, a rare female werecat who rebels against the extreme and violent patriarchy of werecat culture to rise to become the first female leader of her pride. For new readers, the first book in the series may be off-putting because Vincent uses the book to establish just how misogynistic the werecat culture and community is and why Faythe was initially attempting to leave it. However, readers who persevere are rewarded with a powerful story that tackles everything from casual sexism and forced marriage to bride kidnapping and attempted rape – everything that Faythe has to deal with as she battles to stop other prides from taking over her own.

Book Selection #14:​ The “Soulwood” series (2016 – )  by Faith Hunter

Bestselling urban fantasy author Faith Hunter is best-known for her Jane Yellowrock series. However, it is with Soulwood, her latest series and a spinoff from the Jane Yellowrock series that she tackles everything from misogyny to church cult polygamy to violence against women. The not-quite-human lead protagonist Nell Nicholson Ingram was raised in a church cult for which underage – and even forced – marriage was the norm with men in their thirties and beyond taking multiple teenage wives and concubines. Nell rebelled against her fate and the series follows her progress as she helps her family and women modernise the church while working as a special agent on cases involving paranormal creatures.

Book Selection #15: The Female of the Species (2016) by Mindy McGinnis

While this young adult (YA) novel may seem like a revenge thriller on the surface – it is about a girl whose older sister was raped and murdered and who has hunted down the perpetrator who went free – the majority of the story is about how the protagonist Alex deals with the darkness inside her and the violence she experiences and delivers. The story has the standard YA fare of high school drama, jealousies, gossip and underage drinking, but it also features quite a bit of violence and examines the pervasiveness of rape culture among young people and learned misogyny in a straightforward manner, calling out double standards and toxic masculinity.

Book Selection #16: The “World of the Lupi” series (2003 – ) by Eileen Wilks

The werewolves in Eileen Wilks’ World of the Lupi series have some very unusual traits that set them apart from most werewolf-driven urban fantasy works. Firstly, their guiding deity is a woman. Secondly, their culture abhors and outlaws violence against women of any form even as their traditions are otherwise very patriarchal. Add in the main protagonist Lily Yu, a Chinese American detective who solves mysteries while dealing with episodes of PTSD from a traumatic childhood kidnapping and attempted rape, and you have a series that is as feminist as they come.

 

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Book Cover Credits:

  1. A Safe Place – From “A Safe Place” (Amazon.com)
  2. Every Dark Corner – Courtesy of Berkley, an imprint of Penguin Random House
  3. Etched in Bone – Courtesy of Ace, an imprint of Penguin Random House
  4. The Girls At The Kingfisher Club – From “The Girls At The Kingfisher Club” (Goodreads)
  5. Hominids – Courtesy of Robert J. Sawyer
  6. How To Run With A Naked Werewolf – From “How To Run With A Naked Werewolf” (Goodreads)
  7. Shakespeare’s Counselor – Courtesy of Berkley, an imprint of Penguin Random House
  8. Lucky – From Wikipedia
  9. Silence Fallen – Courtesy of Ace, an imprint of Penguin Random House
  10. Missoula: Rape And The Justice System In A College Town – From “Missoula: Rape And The Justice System In A College Town” (Amazon.com)
  11. Orphan X – Courtesy of Gregg Hurwitz
  12. Push – From Wikipedia
  13. Alpha – From “Alpha” (Goodreads)
  14. Flame In The Dark – Courtesy of Faith Hunter
  15. The Female Of The Species – From “The Female Of The Species” (HarperCollins.com)
  16. Dragon Blood – Courtesy of Berkley, an imprint of Penguin Random House

The Pixel Project Selection 2016: 16 Of The Pixel Project’s Best Interview Articles

Blog-and-Pen-300x237

For the past 8 years, The Pixel Project has worked at the intersection of social media, pop culture, the arts, journalism, activism, and new technologies to shine a light on the the many ways violence against women (VAW) affects the lives of women and girls in communities and cultures worldwide.

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

In 2016, we marched on with our annual interview-format blogging campaigns:

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

If you have missed any of our blog interview campaigns this year or are new to The Pixel Project’s work, this selection of this year’s 16 best Pixel Project blog interview articles of 2016 will be a great starting point. We hope that the stories we share motivate you to join the effort to end VAW.

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

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

All headshots courtesy of the interviewees.
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Pixel Project Blog Interview Selection #1: Survivor Stories Interview – Becky Paroz, Australia

becky-paroz_headshotcWhile Becky had an award-winning career as a project manager in the construction industry, her alter ego Bekstar was the personality that learned to manage the outcomes of growing up in a domestic violence situation and being diagnosed with a crippling disease while still a teenager. Her published writings capture her insights, journey, horror and humour that encapsulates her life, including the solutions she found to live her life to the fullest. Speaking about how she went about rebuilding her life after escaping her situation, she says: My main thought for the aftermath is that while I could not choose what happened to me during [my father’s] controlling years, I could certainly choose my actions beyond that point. Making conscious choices about what I want as a person, instead of what I don’t want as a result of those experiences, is the most clear way I can phrase how I have become the successful person I am today.

Pixel Project Blog Interview Selection #2: 30 For 30 Father’s Day Campaign Interview – Bernardo Rosa Rodriguez, Portugal

Bernardo Rodriguez is a public relations professional in Brussels who has lived in Rome, Jakarta and Washington DC. He has contributed to progressive political groups and campaigns (including women’s human rights causes) for many years. When talking about how dads can help stop VAW, he says: “The first step is to set the example and treat all girls and women respectfully and as equals. […]Young men need to be told that being a man is not about force or domination. It’s about respecting others and not being afraid to stand up and call out abusive language or behaviour, even (especially!) in your own circles. Because it’s time this stops being acceptable.”

Pixel Project Blog Interview Selection #3: Survivor Stories Interview – Elizabeth K. Switaj, USA and Marshall Islands

elizabeth-switaj_croppedElizabeth is a survivor of intimate relationship violence. She currently teaches literature, creative writing and composition at the College of the Marshall Islands on Majuro Atoll, Marshall Islands, where she lives with four formerly feral cats, including one with twisted back legs. She is the author of literary guide James Joyce’s Teaching Life and Methods and a collection of poems, Magdalene & the Mermaids. Speaking about ways to end VAW, she says: We need better education about what healthy relationships look like. When I say education, I’m not referring only to formal in-school lessons, but also to media narratives. As an academic, my specialisation is pedagogy in literature. If the experimental texts of High Modernism can teach readers how to understand them, then surely texts can show us how to have relationships without violence and how to recognise and escape toxic situations.

Pixel Project Blog Interview Selection #4: 30 for 30 Father’s Day Campaign Interview – Evanson Njeru, Kenya

evanson-njeru_croppedEvanson Njeru is a community social worker and human rights activist who grew up on the slopes of Mount Kenya. Although he struggled a lot as a village boy who didn’t have many opportunities, he eventually attained a college education. Evanson is now the founder of Compassion CB – an organisation that advocates for the right of women and girls in Kenya through education and sustainable development, as well as anti-female genital mutilation campaigns in villages and schools. When talking about how fathers and how other male role models can help the younger generation step up to prevent VAW, he had this to say: Fathers and other male role models must take up the challenge of being men fighting for the rights of women. Men could help come up with policies that promote rights for women and girls. Young men and boys should be educated and made to understand that violence against women is a violation of human rights. They should also be made to understand some cultural beliefs undermine women and violate their rights.

Pixel Project Blog Interview Selection #5: Inspirational Interview – Fraidy Reiss, United States of America

headshot Fraidy Reiss_croppedFraidy Reiss is a forced marriage survivor and the founder of Unchained At Last, a nonprofit organisation in the U.S. dedicated to helping women and girls leave or avoid arranged/forced marriages and rebuild their lives. Unchained provides free legal and social services and emotional support, while also raising awareness and pushing for relevant legislation. Fraidy says: “I wish I knew exactly how to end violence against women forever. I don’t, but I know that we move closer to that goal when we, women and men, are vigilant and outspoken – that is, when we identify and call attention to instances of institutionalised patriarchy and sexism. We must not overlook or accept; we must not become complacent.”

Pixel Project Blog Interview Selection #6: 30 For 30 Father’s Day Campaign Interview – John Nolan, Australia.

john-nolan_croppedJohn Nolan is the Founder and Director of DadsUNI, a Christian ministry assisting in the development of strong families in modern society with a focus on the role of young fathers. DadsUNI teaches the elements of Understanding, Nurturing and Imparting to assist young dads in this all-important role. ’52 Tips For Fathers’ is their most popular course and available for free on their website. When talking about ways to prevent VAW, he says: I personally believe that the change required in our society to stop violence against women must be addressed by using many different approaches, and without doubt positive male role models do play an important part. Learned behaviours are passed down from generation to generation – violent fathers create violent sons. It is a behavioural cycle of abuse and/or violence, and it is our job to look for ways to break that cycle.

Pixel Project Blog Interview Selection #7: Survivor Stories Interview – Leslie Ann Epperson, United States of America

leslie-epperson_croppedLeslie Ann Epperson is an Emmy Award winning cultural and natural history documentary filmmaker for PBS affiliates who endured sexism and misogyny in television and was in an abusive marriage for many years. Leslie is now dedicated to following her own path, and takes great joy in mentoring younger women artists and filmmakers. When talking about stopping VAW, she says: “Education is key. We must teach our children to respect all of life, human and otherwise, and learn to care for ourselves, each other, and our world in equal measure. It is a spiritual journey, and I think humanity is on the right path, even though it often seems too slow. Much has changed in my lifetime—and much remains to be transformed. We must teach children that love really is the answer, and that violence never works. Violence only begets more of the same.”

Pixel Project Blog Interview Selection #8: 30 For 30 Father’s Day Campaign Interview – Michael Cheang, Malaysia.

michael-cheang_croppedMichael is a journalist with a daily newspaper in Malaysia, specialising in entertainment and beverage news. He has a strong interest in all things pop culture, like Star Wars, Transformers, and he is trying to share these interests with his 2-year-old daughter. When speaking about ways to educate the younger generation to step up and prevent VAW, he says: A father has to take a stand against this sort of thing and be more proactive in educating his kids about violence against women, and that it is NOT okay to hit women (or even other men, for that matter). If the son should come across incidents like that and tell the father, the father should not brush it off as someone else’s problem, and should instead educate the son properly on why it is wrong.

Pixel Project Blog Interview Selection #9: 30 for 30 Father’s Day Campaign Interview – Mike Toma, Iraq

mike-toma_croppedMike is from Iraq and is a progressive, freethinking individual with open ideologies on political and governmental reforms. He has a BA in Business Administration and currently working towards a master’s in project management. He is also a science and astronomy enthusiast with an interest in the betterment of education, an advocate for free college education, social democratic reforms and science literacy among common people. When talking about how fathers and how other male role models can help the younger generation step up to prevent VAW, he says: If my child views me as someone who values her/his mother, they will understand that this is the way to treat others. If my son sees me respecting his mother, he will have that attitude towards other women. If my daughter sees how I treat her mother with care and respect, she will understand that she has the right to defend herself and not take any kind of verbal and/or physical abuse and not allow others to take advantage of her.

Pixel Project Blog Interview Selection #10: Survivor Stories Interview – Palesa Mompe, South Africa

palesa-mompei_croppedPalesa Mompe is a survivor of child rape and sexual abuse. Now an active member of CLIMB Against Sexual Abuse, she has retired from the corporate world and is actively involved in transforming young people to new thinking where they can explore a different view of themselves and their realities. She spends her time working as a facilitator and coach with NGOs that aim to promote health on a social and economic level. In her interview with The Pixel Project, she says: “I would like women to remember that no matter the circumstances of the abuse, we never ask nor do we deserve the violation and humiliation that comes with abuse. It is critical to find our voice because silence is a way of allowing the perpetrator to silence us. We give power to them and increase myths such as victim-blaming.”

Pixel Project Blog Interview Selection #11: Inspirational Interview – Rujuta Teredesai, India

rujuta-teredesai_croppedRujuta Teredesai Heron, co-founder of Equal Community Foundation, has been working in the development sector for around 10 years. She specialises in programme management, fundraising, and communications. Having studied English Literature and Print Journalism, she is a trained journalist. She joined the Equal Community Foundation because she has tremendous faith in the concept of engaging boys and men as a part of the solution. Rujuta says: “Men’s attitudes and behaviours towards women are the root cause of the problem of violence and discrimination against women and girls. If we are to solve this problem, then we must engage boys and men in the solution. Unfortunately, a majority of men do not have the opportunity to learn about equality and the role they play in it. We recognise that we need to provide boys and men with knowledge, skills, peer support and leadership/role models to prevent violence and discrimination against women.”

Pixel Project Blog Interview Selection #12: Inspirational Interview – Sahar Khan, India

sahar-khan_croppedSahar Khan is founder of the Stanford and Hyderabad-based tech platform Zariya that connects women who face VAW with help in a swift and safe manner. When talking to The Pixel Project about Zariya’s work at the intersection of anti-VAW activism and new technologies, she says: “Survivors do not have singular needs but a multitude of needs (legal, economic, medical etc.); hence there is a obligation for a coordination mechanism among providers on the ground. We aim to build the strong coordination mechanisms between the variety of services and expedite necessary knowledge and action between them to deliver the best outcome for survivors.”

Pixel Project Blog Interview Selection #13: Inspirational Interview – Sayydah Garrett, Canada and Kenya

sayydah-garrett_croppedBorn in Montreal, Canada, Sayydah Garrett is the Co-Founder & President of Pastoralist Child Foundation (PCF) which aims to end female genital mutilation (FGM) in Samburu County, Kenya. Together with PCF’s Co-Founder, Samuel Leadismo, Sayydah runs PCF’s anti-FGM programmes which is built on helping Samburu’s families and communities have a stake in ending FGM while helping girls get an education for a brighter future. Sayydah says: “The Samburu community now prefers education as the Alternative Rite of Passage to replace FGM. By educating both girls and boys there is a greater chance that we will succeed in eradicating FGM and child marriage. Workshop attendees learn the great benefits of not mutilating girls. Our workshops are wildly popular! The youth understand that when girls are healthy, educated, happy and enjoying life, things are better for everyone.”

Pixel Project Blog Interview Selection #14: Inspirational Interview – Tania Rashid, Bangladesh

Tania Rashid_croppedTania Rashid, a freelance correspondent, multimedia journalist working in print and photography, and the producer of the short documentary, “A Crime Unpunished: Bangladeshi Gang Rape”.  She has covered human interest stories for Vice News in Bangladesh on gang rape and the lives of sex workers. Most recently Rashid hosted a piece for Al Jazeera’s 101 East on child marriage. When talking to The Pixel Project about how the mainstream media can do better with reporting on VAW, Tania recommended the following: “The media needs to give voices to journalists of colour – female journalists of colour, because we have access to worlds and terrains that a parachute reporter probably would never get. The first step is for the media to recognise and give a chance to reporters who can bring these very deep stories to light in a respectful way, and with understanding of a particular culture, where it is not just anthropological or half-assed. That is what I do, and I think more women should have that opportunity.”

Pixel Project Blog Interview Selection #15: 30 For 30 Father’s Day Campaign Interview – Travis Greenley, Canada

travis-greenley_croppedA proud father to an 11 year old daughter, Travis joined Family Transition Place (FTP), which is the organisation in his community trying to promote gender equality and stop violence against women and girls. He helped start and volunteers for a men’s engagement committee (MENtors) and is also a Youth Educator with FTP. He travels to schools to promote, role model for and teach youth about healthy and unhealthy relationships and all its related topics (stereotypes, empathy, discrimination, self-esteem). Speaking about to educating the younger generation on ways to prevent VAW, he says: I believe that as a society we need to spend less time telling men and boys what not to do. Instead, we need to empower boys and men with what they can do to make a positive difference in our culture. We should encourage them to become educated on the issue of violence against women and gender inequality.

Pixel Project Blog Interview Selection #16: Inspirational Interview – Yasi Safinya-Davies, United States of America

dr-yasi-safinya-davies_croppedDr. Yasi Safinya-Davies has been serving survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault since 2009. She completed her doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology from Alliant International University, California School of Professional Psychology. Her professional focus is specific to issues concerning women, the impacts of trauma, and severe/chronic psychological conditions. In October 2015, she became the executive director of SAVE, a domestic violence nonprofit in Californa. When talking about how communities can mitigate the risks of VAW, she says: “As a community, we can mitigate these challenges by providing girls equal opportunities to education, by examining our permission of male dominance and aggression, by eliminating the purchasing of girls and women as commodities. We can keep score and publicise the equitable or inequitable practices toward women of corporations, education systems, politicians, and advertising agencies. We can make it safe to say, “I am a survivor.”  We can acknowledge that domestic violence affects all of us.”

The Pixel Project Selection 2016: 16 Books About Violence Against Women

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Stories have the power to fire the imagination and provoke new thoughts and ideas. For this purpose, The Pixel Project has put together a list of 16 books that depict violence against women and girls. Some of these stories are fictional and some are not, but all of them will educate the reader in some way about violence, rape culture, cultural mores and misogyny.

The stories on this list have been taken from various genres, from thrillers and dramas to science fiction and autobiographies but they all show a common trend of entrenched and pervasive violence against women in the diverse societies they portray. They do, however, offer threads of hope, with people and characters pushing back against the tide and fighting for a world where women and girls are free from violence.

This list is not exhaustive; there are hundreds of stories out there that deal with violence against women in its various forms. But we hope that these 16 stories will education and inspire you as they have galvanised others over the years to push for change in your community.

Written and compiled by Anushia Kandasivam


Selection number 1: Speak (1999) by Laurie Halse Anderson

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This young adult novel tells the story of a teenager Melinda Sordino who starts the new school year as a selective mute. She is ostracised by her peers because she had called the police to a house party but the truth about why she did this is not revealed until much later. Melinda finds a way to express herself through art with the help of a supportive teacher, which helps her come to terms with her trauma and finally give voice to it. Speak is written in a diary format, so the plot is non-linear and jumpy, mimicking Melinda’s feelings and her journey. It is interesting to note that this book has faced censorship because of its mature content. It was made into a film in 2004 starring Kristen Stewart.

Selection number 2: The Colour Purple (1982) by Alice Walker

colorpurpleA Pulitzer Prize winning novel set in rural Georgia, USA in the 1930s, The Colour Purple focuses on the lives of African American women, including their low social status, struggles through poverty and the sexism and sexual violence they have to live through. The story follows Celie, a poor and uneducated teenage girl who experiences sexual violence from a young age and who is forced to marry an older man. The novel not only explores the themes of violence, sexism and racism, it also touches on gender roles, with several characters blurring the boundaries of gender expectations. There is also a strong underlying theme of sisterhood – women supporting each other through the trials and tribulations of life. In fact, it is this strong bond between the main women characters in the novel that enables their self-realisation and growth. Despite its popularity and awards, The Colour Purple continues to be challenged by censors for its depictions of violence and homosexuality, among other things. It has been adapted into a film and a musical.

Selection number 3: La Dangereuse (2016) by Loubna Abidar and Marion Van Renterghem

la-dangereuseLa Dangereuse (The Dangerous Woman) is the French-language autobiography of Moroccan actress Loubna Abidar, based on interviews with Le Monde journalist Marion Van Renterghem, tells the story of how Abidar overcame poverty and physical and sexual abuse by her father to become one of Morocco’s most acclaimed young actresses. Last year, Abidar was vilified for playing the role of a prostitute in award-winning local film Much Loved and was later beaten on the streets of Casablanca. A refugee ever since, the 31-year-old speaks frankly in her book about the hypocrisy of men, the weight of tradition and taboos and the profound misogyny in her society and culture, but also declares that she refuses to live in fear.

Selection number 4: The Shining Girls (2013) by Lauren Beukes

laurenbeukes_shininggirls_1st_edThis science fiction thriller by South African author Beukes steps back and forth through time following a serial killer who is compelled to stalk and murder ‘shining girls’, young women with great potential whom he sees as literally shining. One of his victims, Kirby Mazrachi, who was attacked in 1989, survives and turns the tables, hunting him back. Besides the mystery and thriller elements, the novel also depicts a survivor’s story through Kirby and how she deals with the aftermath of her attack, and offers readers strong and powerful female characters who overcome their fears to fight back.

Selection number 5: Trafficked: My Story of Surviving, Escaping and Transcending Abduction into Prostitution (2013) by Sophie Hayes

traffickedThis first-hand account of a human trafficking survivor took the author’s home country by storm when it first came out because of one surprising detail – the author and survivor Sophie Hayes is from the UK, a country not known for human trafficking and where people are not as aware of sex trafficking as they should be. Hayes, a young, educated English woman, was tricked and abducted by a man she thought of as her boyfriend and forced to work as a prostitute in a strange country. Beaten and otherwise abused, Hayes took advantage of a chance opportunity to escape. This memoir has generated much discussion in the UK and other first-world countries about the unseen world of human trafficking as well as calls for more awareness and better law and policy. Hayes along with a small team also set up The Sophie Hayes Foundation, which conducts research on human trafficking, creates awareness and offers support to survivors.

Selection number 6: The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II (1997) by Iris Chang

therapeofnanking_1edcoverThis bestselling non-fiction book is about the Nanking Massacre, the 1937-1938 campaign of mass murder and rape by the Imperial Japanese Army after its capture of the city of Nanjing, then the capital of China. In the book, Chang details the atrocities committed by the Japanese Army, including killing, torture and rape; women and girls from all classes and of all ages were raped. The book has received as much criticism as it has acclaim but either way it did much to bring light to a much-ignored yet significant part of World War II, war crimes in general and war crimes perpetrated against women specifically.

Selection number 7: If I Were a Boy (1936) by Haki Stёrmilli

sikur_tisha_djale-if-i-were-a-boyThis Albanian-language epistolary novel (Sikur t’isha djalё) tells the story of a young girl named Dija as she goes through life in the strictly patriarchal Albanian society. Told through a series of diary entries read by Dija’s male cousin, it describes in first person the hardships, struggles and horrors she experiences throughout her life because of her having virtually no say in anything that happens to her. She is forced into marriage to a much older man, suffers abuse, and battles depression and suicidal thoughts.

Selection number 8: Indigo Blue (2005) by Cathy Cassidy

indigo-blueA children’s book, Indigo Blue is about young Indigo whose mother suddenly decides to move her and her baby sister out of their cozy house to a ‘flat from hell’. While at first she does not understand why they have to leave their old life and her mother’s boyfriend behind and suffer poor living conditions and not enough food, Indigo eventually learns to take charge and make the most of her situation. The novel depicts domestic violence, love and depression in various forms, giving young readers some understanding and insight into a family situation that has become prevalent in all societies.

Selection number 9: A Handmaid’s Tale (1985) by Margaret Atwood

thehandmaidstale1stedA dystopian speculative fiction novel set in the near future, A Handmaid’s Tale has won and been nominated for several awards and been adapted for film, radio, opera and stage. Exploring the themes of the subjugation of women, it tells the story of a particular young woman call Offred who is a handmaid, part of the class of women whose sole purpose is reproduction in a society where people are divided and distinguished by sex, occupation and caste. Clothing is colour-coded to reflect this division and it is strongly implied that while some men clothes, such as military uniforms, empower men, women have little to no power in society. The novel engenders discussion about control over people – Offred struggles for agency throughout the story – consent in relationships and the need for women to support each other.

Selection number 10: My Story (2014) by Elizabeth Smart with Chris Stewart

my-storyNow a child safety activist, Elizabeth Smart was 14 when she was abducted from her home in Salt Lake City and rescued nine months later. In this memoir, Smart tells of her ordeal, her determined hold on hope and how she devised a plan to increase her chances of escape or rescue. She also details how she coped after the fact, seeing justice served and her journey of healing and becoming an advocate. The novel emphasises the importance of individual self worth in survivors. Smart founded the Elizabeth Smart Foundation to prevent and put a stop to predatory crimes.

Selection number 11: Echo Burning (2001) by Lee Child

echo-burningThe fifth book in the Jack Reacher series by Lee Child and a thriller at its core, Echo Burning also explores domestic abuse. In the story, Reacher is approached by a woman, Carmen, who wants her husband killed because he is about to be released from prison and return home, whereupon he will inevitably start beating her again. Child has said that, inspired by an American Old West gunfighter who ‘never killed a man that did not need killing’, he wanted to explore the idea of man who Reacher is told needed killing. The story also explores the ambiguity of character – there is always a question whether Carmen can be trusted – as well as the diversity of American society as reflected in the character of a powerful female lawyer.

Selection number 12: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2005) by Stieg Larsson

thegirlwiththedragontattooThis internationally bestselling psychological thriller, titled Mӓn som hatar kvinnor (Men Who Hate Women) in its original Swedish, was translated and published in English in 2008. The eponymous girl is brilliant but troubled researcher and hacker Lisbeth Salander, who assists protagonist Mikael Blomkvist as he has been hired to solve the disappearance and possible murder of a girl. There is a strong theme of violence against women in various forms, including sexual predation and murder, and the story shows how violence can happen to and be perpetrated by anyone from any social class.

Selection number 13: Rose Madder (1995) by Stephen King

rosemadderThough Stephen King has explored the theme of domestic violence in several novels, in Rose Madder it plays an integral part of the plot. The protagonist is Rose Daniels, who lives with an abusive husband for 14 years before finally deciding that she has to leave him. The story shows this turning point and her subsequent journey to self-realisation while dealing with the constant fear that her husband, a policeman who is good at finding people, will track her down.

 

Selection number 14: Something Is Wrong at My House: A Book About Parents’ Fighting (2010) by Diane Davis

something-is-wrong-at-my-houseBased on a true story, this book was created for children who are seeking help for and understanding of domestic violence. It is written so that it can be used by both very young and school-age children, with simple but clear text and illustrations to help children make sense of a frightening situation and encourage them to talk about it with trusted adults. It is also designed so that it can be used by teachers, school counsellors and nurses, and therapists.

 

Selection number 15: Woman at Point Zero (1973) by Nawal El Saadawi

woman_at_point_zero_1st_eng_edBased on the author’s encounter with a female prisoner in Qanatir Prison in Egypt during her research into female neurosis, the premise of this story is a psychiatrist visiting a prison in which she meets and speaks with an unusual female prisoner, Firdaus, who has been accused of murder and is scheduled for execution. The story is that of the Firdaus’ life from her poor childhood when she witnessed domestic violence, survives genital mutilation and sexual abuse, to being forced into marriage with an older man and living through a violent marriage. Firdaus tells of how she gained agency, power and reached self-realisation before everything came crashing down.

Selection number 16: Alias (2001 – 2004) created by Brian Michael Bendis and Micahael Gaydos

aliasomnibusPublished by Marvel Comics under it MAX imprint, the Alias comic book series follows protagonist Jessica Jones after she leaves behind her life as a costumed hero and becomes a private investigator. The overarching story arc across the 28 issues is Jones’ character development as she comes to terms with a traumatic past where she was manipulated and abused, and as she struggles to deal with the present-day physical, emotional and mental consequences. Adapted into an on-going television series called Jessica Jones in 2015, this series has won two awards and been nominated for others.


Photo credits:

  1. Speak – From www.nobelwomensinitiative.org
  2. The Colour Purple – https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19909555
  3. La Dangereuse – From Amazon.fr 
  4. The Shining Girls – from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=39574596 (Book Cover design by Joey Hi-Fi)
  5. Trafficked: My Story of Surviving, Escaping and Transcending Abduction into Prostitution – From Amazon.com
  6. The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II  – From https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12768170
  7. If I Were a Boy – From https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36126680
  8. Indigo Blue – From Amazon.com
  9. A Handmaid’s Tale – From https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20132070
  10. My Story – From Amazon.com
  11. Echo Burning – From World of Books.
  12. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo – From https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17084782
  13. Rose Madder – From https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15658136
  14. Something Is Wrong at My House: A Book About Parents’ Fighting – From Amazon.com
  15. Woman at Point Zero – From https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32458784
  16. Alias – From https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5599614

How To Disrupt 16 Practices of Gender-based Violence In College Life

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Every year, we are pleased to welcome a guest “16 For 16” article from our partner, Breakthrough – a global human rights organisation working to make violence and discrimination against women and girls unacceptable. Their cutting-edge multimedia campaigns, community mobilisation, agenda setting, and leadership training equip men and women worldwide to challenge the status quo and take bold action for the dignity, equality, and justice of all.

This year, Breakthrough shares a list of 16 actions that college students can take to disrupt violence against women in college life.

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Many rigid gender norms–cultural rules about how people should behave because of their perceived gender–can cause harm because they perpetuate a culture where gender-based violence is seen as a normal or even inevitable part of the college experience. Some of these practices have become so normalized in college and university life that they can seem impossible to change. But YOU can become an agent of change by unpacking the norms that drive these practices, and thinking outside the box to disrupt and challenge the ways these cultural norms cause harm to students in your community.

Here are 16 examples of gender norms in practice that we’ll bet you’ve come across before. Are some of these prevalent at your university? If you’re interested in disrupting and transforming any of these practices on your campus, Breakthrough’s Action Hotline is a great resource to get you started! We offer free mentorship for students looking to change culture on campuses across the U.S., and help you brainstorm, plan, and implement your idea for action.

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Practice #1 – “Ladies Night!”

You’ve probably seen this in the form of “women drink for free” or “$2 cover for ladies.” – the promise of drunk women in a way that promotes rape culture. Possible disruptive actions? Satirise the ways in which drunk women are used as objects in advertising to call this practice out for what it is. Create media campaigns that show how pervasive–and harmful–this practice is, and model new ways of getting customers and making money that don’t involve rape culture.

Practice #2 – Victim blaming (Among Peers)

Bullying or shaming survivors of violence, often by suggesting that they were responsible for their own victimisation as opposed to placing blame on the person who chose to commit an act of violence. This can increase the incidence and harmful effect of violence. Potential disruptive actions? A “No Blame” campaign – Collect and share examples of victim blaming on campus and offer solutions and healthier frameworks. Respond to victim blaming by flooding social media or apps like YikYak with positive messages calling out this practice. You and your friends dress up as referees – striped shirts and whistles – and throw a flag when you hear or see victim blaming behavior.

Practice #3 – Victim blaming (Institutional/Systemic)

Rules and policies enforced (or not enforced) by administrators and staff place blame on the actions of the victims, and not on the person that chose to commit violence against them. It is asking survivors what they were wearing, how much they drank, or what they could have done differently to avoid violence. Potential disruptive actions? Run a spotlight campaign focused on highlighting what should be included in school policy, and explaining the harms caused by institutional victim blaming. Speak out to local and national media when cases of institutional victim-blaming occur to bring external pressure to bear on the situation.

Practice #4 – “Rating” Women Based on Their Looks and Sexual Availability to Men

This practice can be a formal system among a specific group on campus, or an informal “in-joke” most often amongst men. It sounds like “she’s a ten” or language like “grenade” used to refer to women. Whatever the language, this practice says that a woman’s value is based on her looks and sexuality, creating a culture where men are pressured to have sex with certain women, and women are expected and pressured into sex or are assaulted and raped. Potential disruptive actions? Whistleblowing – reveal the depths of this practice if it has become a tradition. Make it clear that it happens on your campus and will not happen anymore – take inspiration from the Harvard Women’s Soccer team.

Practice #5 – Sexual Scoring

Like so many harmful norms, this one has a long history in language like “notches on your belt or bedpost”. This practice arises out of the idea that masculinity = having lots of heterosexual sex, and coercive and non-consensual behavior often become accepted parts of the game. Potential disruptive actions? Get competitive instead about calling out actions that pressure people to have sex. Keep score on that and share strategies and tips to step up your game.

Practice #6 – Taking/recording Photos/Video Without Consent

Whether through hacking, hidden cameras, or in other ways, taking intimate or degrading photos, videos, Snapchats and more without the person’s knowledge, permission, or consent causes harm whether it is shared or not. Potential disruptive actions? Use stories of people affected by this practice to create understanding of the harms and impacts it causes. Transform conversations around sexual consent to include discussions of intimate photos and videos.

Practice #7 – Non-Consensual Photo/Video Sharing

Often existing alongside the previous practice, the act of sharing or threatening to share intimate photos and videos without their consent (even if they were taken with consent!) as an unacceptable violation that often causes harm, shame, and stigma. Potential disruptive actions? Use storytelling to encourage a sex-positive, non-shaming approach to conversations around intimate photos. Run reactive campaigns when incidents occur that show solidarity with victims.

Practice #8 – “Rush boobs” (And Other Trophies)

An often formalised component of sexual scoring is the collection of “trophies”, sexually objectifying women and creating a culture that pressures men to “get” sex however they can. Trophies and a high score are prioritised over consent and respect. According to Total Frat Move: “Since the dawn of the internet, fraternity members have been convincing girls to write “Rush (Insert Fraternity Here)” across their chests for promotional purposes.” Potential Disruptive actions? Call out and replace this practice by writing “RUSH __” on random objects to showcase the absurdity of the tradition. Flood social media with this on the relevant hashtags.

Practice #9 – The “Friendzone”

Ah – the “friendzone”. The idea that “nice guys” are entitled to the romantic or sexual interest of a woman, and that men are “victims” of women only wanting to be friends with them (the horror!). This is one of the more insidious and seemingly benign components of rape culture and really needs to go. Potential disruptive actions? Create a multimedia campaign using examples of the “friendzone” from pop culture– TV shows, lyrics, films, or blogs. Talk about the inherent sexism and use this idea to elevate discussions around consent and autonomy. Designate a space on campus to be an actual “friend zone” – where people of all genders can just be friends without the pressure of sex, or a space where friends can be honest with each other about their expectations of their relationship. Or maybe a space to keep anyone who complains about being in…….the friendzone.

Practice #10 – Shaming Women’s Sexuality (“Slut-shaming”)

This age-old practice of using loaded language to shame women for their sexuality or their appearance is a prime example of the double-standard for women when it comes to sex (see “sexual scoring” above). Potential disruptive actions? Take the shame out of sexuality through sex-positive storytelling. Offer new ways to talk about the moments that are often linked to slut-shaming (AKA “the walk of shame” becomes the “stride of pride”).

Practice #11 – Rape Culture Banners (“Drop Your Daughters Off Here, Dads”)

Every fall, massive banners displayed across Fraternity houses meant to intimidate new students – particularly first year women – are unfurled (trust us, you can google it). These banners often contain threatening and offensive messages that trivialize sexual assault. Potential disruptive actions? Take inspiration from Will & Bill who started Banner Up! At Indiana University in response to rape culture banners at their school. Get dads involved since these banners often implicate them as well.

Practice #12 – Control of Access to Alcohol

On many campuses, men (and most often, fraternities) have control over other students’ access to alcohol. Students, and especially underage students, have limited access to alcohol, which creates greater opportunity to isolate, coerce, force alcohol on, and sexually assault others. Potential disruptive actions? Flip the script – put women or other groups in charge of access to alcohol for a change. Work with chapters at other schools to challenge problematic policies and rules at a national level.

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Practice #13 – Homophobia and Transphobia

Dehumanising LGBT folk through discrimination, violence, and the use of homophobic and transphobic language is a problem in and of itself. It also is used to regulate and police other people’s behaviors and reinforces inequity and violence. Potential disruptive actions? Build empathy culture: create systems of peer accountability for homophobic and transphobic behavior. If you are not LGBT yourself, center the experiences of LGBT students in your work on your own campus and build strong alliances.

Practice #14 – “The Perfect Victim

The practice of discrediting victims based on their sexual history, appearance, gender, race, or any other facet of their identity is common and is a part of victim blaming. Promoting the idea of a “perfect victim” makes it easier to disbelieve, blame, and silence all survivors of sexual violence and/or relationship abuse. Potential disruptive actions? Offer new, real narratives from survivors in your own community. Run campaigns that seek to broaden campus-wide understanding of who can be a victim.

Practice #15 – Colluding with Those Who Commit Violence

Protecting students and others who perpetrate violence because of their perceived value to the school is all too common on campus and in communities everywhere, and it normalises and increases the amount of violence committed. Potential disruptive actions? Create accountability culture: work with students to understand that it is not in the best interest of the community to protect those who commit violence, use student and local media to draw attention to cover ups, work with alumni, parents, and others to hold the administration accountable for transparency.

Practice #16 – “Standards”

Peer-led committees or boards enforce a code of conduct within student organisations, in a system that is meant to protect the reputation of an organisation. Potential disruptive actions? Change your standards: it’s a peer enforced system. Challenge shaming within your community. Check yourselves.

If you’re inspired to take action to disrupt any of these practices–or want to take a closer look at the norms that drive a culture of gender-based violence in your community–take advantage of Breakthrough’s Action Hotline today!

16 Ideas and Actions To Avoid and Stop Victim Blaming

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One of the major factors that impede the eradication of violence against women (VAW) in communities and cultures worldwide is victim blaming. Victim-blaming norms place the blame for domestic violence, rape, and sexual assault squarely on the victim while absolving the perpetrator from guilt or fault. This toxic and insidious attitude is rooted in the patriarchy and is set in place long before any attack is carried out. For example: adults admonishing girls and young women not to drink when they go out, school policies that police what girls wear so that they do not distract boys at school, the slut shaming of women who have premarital sex in conservative cultures, and girls being taught to avoid public spaces after dark.

This culture of saddling women and girls with the sole responsibility for their own safety not only restricts and hinders their daily lives, but also has devastating consequences for victims in cases of rape, sexual assault, and domestic violence. Judges in rape trials across the world have asked victims why they couldn’t “keep their knees together” or if they had tried “closing [their] legs”. In domestic violence cases, judges and lawyers use victim-blaming terms such as “volatile relationship” and “jealous anger” to minimise the accountability of men who abuse their wives and partners. And in high-profile cases like Amber Heard’s divorce from Johnny Depp for his abusive behaviour and in the Chris Brown-Rihanna domestic violence case, many fans (including female fans) rush to defend their male idols while shaming the victims despite indisputable evidence of abuse. As Rihanna noted in an interview: “The victim gets punished over and over.”

The challenge with dismantling victim-blaming attitudes lies in the fact that it is so pervasive that most people do it automatically. From refusing to believe a domestic violence victim by saying ‘I wasn’t there so I don’t know’ to teaching girls to avoid alcohol when they socialise, putting the onus on women to avoid abuse is a knee-jerk reaction for many people.

In this 16 For 16 article, we present 16 actionable ideas as a starting point to inspire you to to stop victim blaming, whether it’s adjusting your own behaviour, holding a perpetrator responsible for his behaviour, changing your community’s attitude towards victim blaming, or helping a victim or survivor.

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

Written, researched, and compiled by Regina Yau.

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Suggestion for Smashing Victim Blaming #1: Begin by Believing 

Silence surrounds domestic and sexual violence in society because victim blaming and shaming makes it a taboo topic for discussion. When victims try to speak out, they encounter disbelief and dismissal from family and friends. So when a friend or family member tells you that she is being abused by her husband or partner or that she has been raped, believe her. Even if the perpetrator is your friend or another family member, believe her. And let her know that you believe her.

Suggestion for Smashing Victim Blaming #2: Repeat After Me: “It Is Not Your Fault.”

Assure the victim that it is not her fault and reinforce this by listening to what she says about her experience. When telling their story, it is normal for some victims to sometimes attribute part of the blame to themselves because they too have internalised victim-blaming norms. If this is the case, continue listening but also consistently reassure her that it is not her fault. If other people blame the victim, speak up to remind them and emphasise that it is not her fault.

Suggestion for Smashing Victim Blaming #3: Hold The Perpetrator Accountable

People who are abusive or violent towards others often try to explain away or rationalise their actions by blaming their victim. If you hear a perpetrator saying this, do not believe him. If you are in a position to push back, do so by verbally repeating his actions to him and reminding him that he alone decided to abuse, assault, or rape his victim when there were other choices of action available. Do not let him make excuses like blaming the victim, alcohol, circumstances or drugs for his behaviour. If you can, get help from a rape crisis centre, domestic violence charity or women’s rights organisation in your area to build a case for filing a report with the relevant authorities while providing support and care for the victim.

Suggestion for Smashing Victim Blaming #4: Challenge The Enablers

Thanks to the pervasiveness of victim-blaming, there will be other people who will believe the perpetrator, especially friends and family members who either cannot reconcile the individual they know with the violent criminal action he took against another person. Oftentimes, they will defend him by lashing out at the victim. When you encounter this, check that the victim is all right (if she is present) and then remind the victim-blamers that it was the perpetrator who made the choice to abuse or rape and counter every victim blaming excuse they make for him.

Suggestion for Smashing Victim Blaming #5: Mind Your Language

One of the ways in which we perpetuate victim blaming is the way we talk about it. Typically, language surrounding domestic violence, rape, and sexual assault focuses our attention on the victim instead of the perpetrator. For example: it is common for many people to talk about the case as “Mary was raped” or “Mary is a rape victim”. This subtly cuts out the perpetrator from the discussion while putting the victim in the spotlight. So be mindful of the way you talk about VAW cases. Try using an active sentence such as “James raped Mary” to make sure the blame stays where it should stay – with the perpetrator.

Suggestion for Smashing Victim Blaming #6: Ask The Right Questions

When there is news about domestic violence, rape, or sexual assault, the first question many people often ask is: “What was she wearing?”, “Was she drinking too much?” or “What did she do to provoke him?”. These questions generally go unchallenged because of victim-blaming culture and the belief that women are responsible for their own safety. Instead of going with the flow, ask the hard questions that get to the heart of the crime and puts the spotlight back on the perpetrator such as “Why did he rape her?” and “What is law enforcement/the judiciary doing to hold the perpetrator accountable?”.

Suggestion for Smashing Victim Blaming #7: Turn It Into A Teachable Moment

There are a number of typical questions and assumptions that are expressed by people when they hear about a VAW case. These range from “Why was she out so late at night anyway?” to “She must have provoked him into being abusive. They both need to change”. Use these attempts to displace accountability onto the victim as an opportunity to school the people who say them about VAW and the importance of holding the perpetrator accountable for his actions. Not sure where to begin? Here’s a great starter resource which helps answer many typical accountability-interrupting questions.

Suggestion for Smashing Victim Blaming #8: Hold The Media Accountable

The way the media reports about VAW is a major factor in upholding and perpetuating victim-blaming culture. A 2015 study into the international reporting of violence against women has found that media often sensationalises domestic violence against women and shifts the focus away from the perpetrator. If you see your local or national newspaper or news channel reporting on VAW cases in this way, call them out on it and challenge them to do better. Some of the ways you can do that include writing a public letter to the editor or starting an online petition asking them to rethink their approach.

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Suggestion for Smashing Victim Blaming #9: Hold The Judiciary Accountable

One of the most damaging influences of victim blaming is the judges presiding over VAW cases who hold victim-blaming attitudes themselves. Such attitudes frequently result in abusers and rapists walking free or being handed extremely lightweight sentences. Such verdicts re-traumatise victims and legitimise victim blaming. Take action against this in various ways by protesting unfair verdicts and victim-blaming behaviour by judges through petitions and open letters, and taking action to get the judge to be recalled or disciplined as the residents of Palo Alto and Stanford University students did in the Brock Turner case.

Suggestion for Smashing Victim Blaming #10: Call Out Rape Jokes

One of the ways in which victim-blaming attitudes are normalised is through rape jokes. By making light of rape and sexual assault, these jokes trivialise the trauma that survivors face by making rape and rape survivors a laughing stock for public amusement. The most basic way you can challenge rape jokes is by calling it out immediately – state that it makes you uncomfortable, state why it makes you uncomfortable, and ask the person making the joke to consider the negative effects of the joke. For example: “I know a few rape survivors. This joke isn’t funny. How would you feel if you were raped and someone made fun of your trauma?”.

Suggestion for Smashing Victim Blaming #11: Vote With Your Wallet

Pop culture reflects the beliefs, moods, and norms of wider society. So it is no surprise that VAW appears in books, comics, music, movies, comedy, TV series, fashion, social media and even advertisements. Rape in particular is often treated as a convenient plot device, even going as far as to portray the rapist in a sympathetic light. In a number of very popular movies and TV series, rape and sexual assault are normalised and even used for comedic effect. And a number of advertising agencies still produce ads that use images and footage of VAW for their clients. The best way to push back? Vote with your wallet – simply refuse to by the products sold by companies, artists, designers, and creators who contribute to the narrative of rape culture and victim blaming or get advertisers to pull their ad spend or sponsorship of the product. And get your friends to join you in this boycott.

Suggestion for Smashing Victim Blaming #12: Get Educated About Violence Against Women (VAW)

Many people fall back on victim blaming because they buy into the myths surrounding VAW. These include false assumptions such as “If she doesn’t fight back, then it isn’t rape” or “If he was violent, why doesn’t she have bruises?”. This leads to the victim being treated with suspicion or not being taken seriously if she isn’t the “perfect victim” who fought back against her rapist or who is visibly abused by her partner. Begin proactively addressing any victim-blaming tendencies you may have by learning about VAW, how to recognise signs of abuse, and why rapists rape. Check out the websites of anti-VAW organisations like The Pixel Project to get information and resources to start you off.

Suggestion for Smashing Victim Blaming #13: Get Educated About Consent

Recognising the importance of sexual consent in relationships and learning how to check for consent before sex is a crucial part of preventing rape and sexual assault. However, this topic is still not widely taught as part of sex education in schools worldwide. As such, many people (even adults) still do not understand what consent looks like. One of the consequences of this lack of awareness about what consent is and looks like is that many people falsely assume that a victim consents to violence when she fails to fight back or to tell the perpetrator to stop. To avoid making this assumption that directly feeds into victim blaming, take the initiative to learn about consent – what it looks like, how to tell when consent is absent, and how to recognise situations when consent is impossible.

Suggestion for Smashing Victim Blaming #14: Start With The Kids

No child is born knowing how to victim-blame. They learn to victim-blame from the adults around them – sometimes by observing and absorbing victim-blaming behaviour as the norm, sometimes by directly being taught to do so (and enabled) by their parents, teachers, coaches and other adults. If you have kids or if you work with kids, take action to teach them about the importance of consent, gender equality, and respecting women and girls. Talk to your sons and the boys you teach or mentor about why VAW is wrong and how to speak up when their peers make light of VAW. Acknowledge that you are a role model for the children around you whether you like it or not and make sure to set a good example of not victim blaming when discussing high profile VAW cases in your community and in the media.

Suggestion for Smashing Victim Blaming #15: Get Your Community Educated

A good start to eradicating victim-blaming attitudes from your community or neighbourhood is to start educating as many people as possible about VAW and the importance of supporting survivors and holding perpetrators accountable regardless of their standing in the community. This can be done in collaboration with your local rape crisis centre, domestic violence nonprofit, women’s organisation or police community outreach officers who can work with the community, local schools and local companies to organise and implement talks, townhall meetings and other group sessions to talk about this issue.

Suggestion for Smashing Victim Blaming #16: And Finally – Always Support Victims and Survivors

At the heart of victim blaming is the goal of taking away support for victims and survivors in order to protect the perpetrator. Break that cycle by stepping up to unequivocally support VAW victims and survivors. There are many ways you can do so, including speaking up to intervene when victims and survivors are being shamed or attacked by victim-blamers, helping survivors find the resources that they need to heal and rebuild their lives, and accompanying them to court if they choose to try to bring their attacker to justice. And listen to victims and survivors – always listen and believe victims and survivors.

16 Anti-VAW Organisations, Campaigns, and Activists using Pop Culture to fight Violence Against Women

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From books, comic books, movies, pop music, and tv shows to graffiti, online memes, tattoos, cosplaying, and street fashion – pop culture is what and who most of us read, watch, listen, and wear. Traditionally, it has been dismissed by the establishment as ubiquitous lightweight entertainment for the person on the street. Nevertheless, from fears that Rock music would promote promiscuous behaviour amongst teens in the 1950s to allegations that video games contribute to violent behaviour in children to Harry Potter fans rallying to fundraise for good causes, pop culture also has a history of being regarded as extraordinarily effective at transmitting powerful ideas and messages to the masses.

The power of pop culture has been magnified manifold since the advent and evolution of radio, film, and the internet over the course of the 20th century. In today’s lightning-fast internet-connected world, its influence is more potent than ever as streaming services like Netflix and Spotify have gone global, social media channels like Tumblr create an proliferation of interactive worldwide fandoms, and celebrities now hold court on Facebook with live videos that go viral. From using pop culture mediums such as comics and YouTube videos to raise awareness about VAW to collaborating with celebrities to amplify messages, today’s anti-VAW organisations and campaigns are dialling into pop culture to reach out to communities with added impact.

Here at The Pixel Project, we realise what a huge role pop culture can play in influencing communities, educating young people, mobilising support, and raising the resources needed to address, prevent, and even stop violence against women (VAW). In recognition of the profound influence that pop culture has on the hearts and minds of individuals and communities worldwide, we present 16 anti-VAW organisations, campaigns, celebrities, and activists using pop culture to fight VAW in a variety of ways.

Written and compiled by Samantha Joseph with additional content by Regina Yau. Introduction by Regina Yau and Samantha Joseph.

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Empowering With Pop Culture #1: Aaron Haroon Rashid and “Burka Avenger” – Pakistan

Aaron Haroon Rashid created Burka Avenger, an animated Pakistani TV series, to emphasise the importance of educating girls. It features a protagonist who is a teacher in an all-girls’ school by day, and wears a burka when fighting misogynistic villains and carries strong themes of women’s empowerment.

Empowering With Pop Culture #2: Anita Sarkeesian and “Tropes vs Women” – Online

Feminist social critic Anita Sarkeesian documents the often sexist and misogynistic view of women in popular culture through her Tropes vs Women in Video Games series which also addresses violence against women and objectification of women in video games. Ironically, launching the series resulted in a deluge of sexist harassment for Anita. [TRIGGER WARNING: This video contains graphic depictions of violence against women.]

Empowering With Pop Culture #3: Breakthrough and the “Ring the Bell/Bell Bajao” campaign – India

Breakthrough and its founder, Malika Dutt, have used pop culture in a slew of campaigns to promote gender rights and bring awareness to violence against women. Bell Bajao, or Ring the Bell, is their most famous campaign is renowned for using a series of striking public service announcements on YouTube calling on bystanders to take action. The campaign later evolved to involve the likes of Patrick Stewart and Michael Bolton calling on men to take action to stop violence and discrimination against women.

Empowering With Pop Culture #4: Celeste Barber and #celestechallengeaccepted – Australia

Using popular social media platform Instagram, Australian comedian Celeste Barber fights the notion of self-objectification that women and girls are supposed to be constantly aware of their bodies and how they are rewarded for sexualisation through ‘likes’ by putting up her own pictures side-by-side those of celebrities like Niki Minaj and Kim Kardashian.

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Empowering With Pop Culture #5: Flavia Carvalho and the “A Pele da Flor” (The Skin of the Flower) Project – Brazil

When talented tattoo artist Flavia Carvalho had a client who wanted to cover up a scar on her abdomen that was inflicted through a violent attack because she refused the advances of a man in a nightclub, Carvalho started her A Pele de Flor project to help other women who have sustained scars from VAW. In addition to helping survivors boost their self-confidence via beautiful tattoos, she shares the before and after pictures of the scars with the stories of how the women received them to raise awareness about VAW.

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Empowering With Pop Culture #6: Gender-flipped Book Cover Posing – United States of America

Fantasy author Jim C Hines noticed a trend of ridiculously posed women on the cover of popular urban fantasy novels, and decided to draw attention to sexist cover art by parodying them in a series of photographs. Since then, he’s raised money for several charities through these efforts, and roped in several other authors, including John Scalzi, Charles Stross, and Mary Robinette Kowal.

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Empowering With Pop Culture #7: Mariska Hargitay and the “NO MORE” Campaign – United States of America

Mariska Hargitay’s Joyful Heart Foundation launched the NO MORE campaign in hopes of normalising conversation surrounding domestic violence and sexual assault, allowing victims to feel more empowered about coming forward with their stories. NO MORE is backed by familiar faces from television and music, including Courteney Cox, Samantha Ronson, and Mary J Blige.

Empowering With Pop Culture #8:   Meghan Rienks and the “That’s Not Cool” campaign – Online

Youtube star Meghan Rienks, Futures Without Violence and the Ad Council team up for the That’s Not Cool campaign, to help teens identify abusive behaviour in relationships. Accessible through platforms like Youtube and Kik, the campaign is aimed at promoting healthy relationships among teenagers.

Empowering With Pop Culture #9: Megan Rosalarian and Gender-flipping Objectifying Comic Book Art – United States of America

Megan Rosalarian, pseudonym of writer and artist Megan Rose Gedris, tackles the hypersexualised representation of female superheroes in comic books, for example Black Canary and Star Sapphire, by re-drawing them as male superheroes in revealing outfits and titillating poses.

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Empowering With Pop Culture #10: Ram Devineni and “Priya’s Shakti” – India

Ram Devineni is one of the creators of Priya’s Shakti, a comic book whose protagonist is a young rape survivor fighting gender crimes in India with the help of the goddess Parvati. Inspired by the horrific gender-based violence making the news in India, Priya’s Shakti exposes issues of gender-based violence that are often left untackled because of patriarchal attitudes.

Empowering With Pop Culture #11: Saint Hoax and the “Happy Never After” Campaign – Online

Middle Eastern artist Saint Hoax uses Disney Princess characters to illustrate domestic violence in the series of Happy Never After posters. The princesses, visibly bruised, are featured with the tagline ‘When Did He Stop Treating You Like A Princess?’, a move that Saint Hoax says underlines the fact that domestic violence can happen to anyone. [TRIGGER WARNING: This video contains graphic depictions of violence against women.]

Empowering With Pop Culture #12: The “Don’t Cover it Up” Campaign – United Kingdom

YouTube beauty expert Lauren Luke and anti-violence against women charity Refuge produce a video as part of the ‘Don’t Cover It Up’ campaign. In the video, Luke appears to be beaten and bruised, an intentionally shocking presentation to make people face the realities of abuse victims and hopefully urge them to seek help rather than ‘cover up’.

Empowering With Pop Culture #13: The “It’s On Us” Campaign – United States of America

A US national campaign, It’s On Us aims to help keep men and women safe from sexual assault, especially on campus. The campaign works with celebrities such as Zoe Saldana, John Cho, Minka Kelly and Josh Hutcherson to create videos that advocate for consent, safety and intervention in non-consensual situations.

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Empowering With Pop Culture #14: The Pixel Project and the “Read For Pixels” campaign – Online

The Pixel Project is an anti-VAW non-profit which specialises in online campaigns that combine social media, new technologies, and pop culture/the arts to raise awareness, funds, and volunteer power for the movement to end VAW. Over the years, their campaigns and programmes have reached out to diverse pop culture communities and influencers including music fans, foodies, and geekdoms. Their most popular campaign is their Read For Pixels campaign featuring award-winning bestselling authors talking about VAW to their fans via live Google Hangouts and raising funds online for the cause.

Empowering With Pop Culture #15: The #WhatIReallyReallyWant Campaign – Worldwide

Project Everyone, founded by director Richard Curtis and Global Goals, took the 1996 girl power anthem ‘Wannabe’ (with the blessing of The Spice Girls), and updated it for their #WhatIReallyReallyWant campaign featuring women and girls from around the world telling the United Nations and the world what they really want: to stop violence against girls, ending child marriage and equal pay for equal work.

Empowering With Pop Culture #16: YWCA Canada and the #NOTokay Campaign – Canada

YWCA Canada’s #NOTokay campaign uses TV series, video games and music videos and representations of assault in them to illustrate that it isn’t okay. Each 15 second video highlights the casual way violence against women is used in shows like Family Guy, and how we shouldn’t be okay with it. [TRIGGER WARNING: This video contains graphic depictions of violence against women.]

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The Pixel Project Selection 2016: 16 Striking Anti-Violence Campaigns for the Cause to End Violence Against Women

Give Peace a ChanceEvery year, we at The Pixel Project come across a wide variety of innovative and powerful campaigns tackling Violence Against Women (VAW) by our fellow activists and non-profits from around the globe, and 2016 is no exception. From using tattoos to reclaiming public spaces through bike-riding, activists and campaigners all around the world have had an extraordinarily busy year.

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

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

What these campaigns have in common are:

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

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

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

Written and compiled by Rubina Singh. Additional content by Regina Yau

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Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #1:  Brides do Good – Worldwide

Launched on International Day of the Girl Child this year by Chantal Khoueiry, Brides Do Good is a social enterprise and campaign with the aim of ending child marriage. In partnership with Plan International and Too Young to Wed, Brides Do Good provides a platform for women to sell their expensive bridal gowns and one-third of the profits are donated to charities working to end child marriage.

Brides Do Good from Brides Do Good on Vimeo.

Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #2: #Everywoman  – The Philippines

Using the hashtag #EveryWoman, women across the Philippines came together against slut-shaming and VAW in the country. An alleged sex tape of Senator Leila de Lima was made public leading to outrage against the video being used to shame her as a form of violence against women.

Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #3: Fancy Women on Bikes – Turkey

“Fancy Women On Bikes” is a national women’s movement in Turkey that is moving to reclaim public spaces for women through bike rides in groups. Founder Sema Gur used social media to mobilise her friends to cycle with her so as to raise awareness about the issues women experience in the streets and traffic. And so the Fancy Women on Bikes movement was born with clear and precise message: “We should go wherever we want, dress however we like, be visible, yet not be disturbed.”

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Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #4:  Girls at DhabasPakistan

Girls at Dhabas started in 2015 as an Instagram post by Sadia Khatri and developed into a movement to reclaim public spaces in Pakistan this year. Dhabas are small, open air restaurants found in South Asia where women are rarely seen alone. In their effort to increase women’s public participation, the movement encourages women to reclaim public spaces like dhabas.

Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #5: Give The Red Card – Pacific Islands

Launched on 10 November 2016, the Give The Red Card campaign is an effort by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) and UNICEF to engage with the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup teams to galvanise sporting champions who will stand together and speak out against VAW. Under this campaign, participating countries and football teams will engage with a celebrity male football player in their home country to stand with the team and help to advocate against VAW in their communities.

Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #6: “I’ll Never Be Silent”  – Brazil

VAW is rampant across Latin America, with some of the worst cases taking place in Brazil. Triggered by the gang-rape of a 16 year old girl in April 2016, activist group Rio de Paz protested against VAW by showcasing photographs by photographer Marcio Freitas themed ‘I’ll Never Be Silent’ along with 420 pairs of underwear on Copacabana Beach. The number of underwear represents the number of women who are raped every 72 hours in Brazil.

Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #7: “Men wear Mini-skirts” March – The Netherlands

To protest against the violence against women in Cologne, Germany in January 2016, men gathered in Amsterdam wearing miniskirts. The protest was in response to comments blaming the assault on the women’s attire rather than addressing the behavior of the perpetrators.

Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #8:  #MoreThanMean – United States of America

#MoreThanMean is a video and podcast to raise awareness about the harassment faced by women in sports. The video shows men reading some of the ‘mean tweets’ targeted at female sports journalists including rape and death threats. The men cringe as they read out these tweets to the journalists sitting in front of them. The underlying theme of the video is to showcase how these tweets are more than just ‘mean tweets’ and are actually abuse.

Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #9: #NeinHeisstNein (No Means No)  – Germany

This year, a ‘No means No’ law was passed by Germany to address gaps in the law regarding violence against women in the country. Along with many protests and campaigns for years, the move was preceded by a campaign by UN Women Germany and activist Kristina Lunz using the hashtag #NeinHeisstNein (No means no).

Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #10:  #NotOkay  – Worldwide

Following disturbing comments made by Donald Trump, President-Elect of the USA, Canadian author Kelly Oxford decided it was #NotOkay. She started tweeting stories about her own experiences with sexual assault and invited her followers to share more using the hashtag #NotOkay. 27 million tweets later, the hashtag has translated into a symbol for the unacceptability of sexual assault within and outside USA.

Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #11:  Pinjra Tod (Break the Hostel Locks) – India

Women’s hostels and rental accommodations in India are known for stringent curfews and sexist rules like forbidding women from coming in late or staying out at night. Pinjra Tod, literally translates to ‘break the cage’, and that is precisely what this collective of women students, alumni and allies in New Delhi is trying to do. Their tactics range from open discussions to online petitions to graffiti. Along with trying to end sexism in educational institutions, they are also trying to ensure that anti-sexual harassment committees in colleges and universities are active.

Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #12: Silent Anti-Rape Protests Against President Zuma – South Africa

Four women came together for a silent protest against President Jacob Zuma during his address at the Independent Electoral Commission in Tshwane, South Africa. President Zuma was accused of raping his friend’s daughter, known in the media as Khwezi, in 2005. The charge was dismissed in 2006 amidst protests. The demonstration brought to light the sad state of the South African judicial system when it comes to addressing issues of violence against women.

Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #13:  Stop it at the Start – Australia

Developed by the Australian government, Stop it at the Start is an ad campaign to highlight the need to address violence against women and violent behavior from the beginning. The campaign shows disrespectful behavior between a boy and girl which eventually converts into violent behavior as they age.

Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #14: Temporary Tattoos  –  Germany

Sexual assault against young girls in Germany is on the rise. To raise awareness about the issue, Veronika Wascher-Goggerle, the Women’s and Family Representative from Bodensee district in Baden-Wurttemberg has started an awareness campaign with temporary tattoos. Temporary tattoos were distributed to young girls to talk to young girls at swimming pools about sexual assault.

Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #15: The Pink Ladoo Project – United Kingdom and South Asia

In South Asian communities, ladoos (a traditional sweet) are traditionally distributed on the birth of a male child. Taking into account the sexism and violence against women that starts at birth, Raj Khaira initiated the Pink Ladoo Project to encourage South Asian families to celebrate the birth of a girl child by distributing pink ladoos and to address the gender bias from the start.

Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #16: The Unacceptable Acceptance LetterUnited States of America

To address the issue of campus sexual assault in USA, a campaign was developed by Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in collaboration with the production company PRETTYBIRD and the women’s rights advocacy group Ultraviolet. The campaign includes a print ad and six videos of high school students reading out their college acceptance letters, with a twist at the end highlighting the plight of campus sexual assault survivors.

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Photo credits:

  1. Photo from Thousands of ‘Fancy Women on Bikes’ defy intimidation to claim the streets of Turkey” (Didem Tali/Women Of The World/New York Times)
  2. Photo from “Activists Launch No More Rape Campaign” (Filipe Dana/The Daily Beast)