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

16 Ways Healthcare Professionals Can Help Prevent Violence against Women

This year, The Pixel Project is pleased to welcome a guest “16 For 16” article from RANZCOG – the leading standards body responsible for the training and education of doctors in obstetrics and gynaecology in Australia and New Zealand. RANZCOG provides consultative leadership and advocacy in #WomensHealth to ensure excellence in #obstetrics and #gynaecology training.

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In Australia and around the world, violence against women is widespread, but it is also preventable. Intimate partner violence contributes to more death, disability and illness in women aged 15 to 44 than any other preventable risk factor.

As trusted leaders in the community who are on the frontlines of patient care, healthcare professionals are in a unique position to both respond to, and help prevent violence before it occurs.

Knowing where to start or what to do can be overwhelming. However, there are many opportunities to initiate change at any stage of your career, regardless of whether you are in training or are currently practicing.

Through awareness raising and education, by addressing attitudes that enable violence, and by working with support organisations, health professionals can make a major difference to the lives of women and girls experiencing violence.

Here are our 16 ways that health professionals can help prevent violence against women.

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Idea for Healthcare Professionals #1: Integrate Awareness-Raising Through Learning

One of the best ways learning institutions can equip health professionals with the knowledge they need to help prevent violence against women, is to ensure that they are aware of the issues and drivers that enable violence. Raising awareness through the inclusion of modules or exam questions in the curriculum not only develops competency, but highlights violence against women as a very real problem.

Idea for Healthcare Professionals #2: Provide Opportunities to Level Up Skills

Ensuring that health professionals have access to skill building opportunities and resources is crucial to promoting best practices. Beyond knowing how to identify, respond and refer patients appropriately, it is also equally important that health professionals are skilled in handling these interactions sensitively and respectfully.

Idea for Healthcare Professionals #3: Support Research

By supporting, providing expertise to, and investing in research initiatives, health professionals across disciplines can contribute to understanding why these issues persist, and contribute to finding ways to prevent violence before it happens. For example, Melbourne University has some great partnerships and resources as part of the Melbourne Research Alliance to End Violence against women and their children. Click here for more information.

Idea for Healthcare Professionals #4: Acknowledge That Stereotyping of Violence Exists

A common trap that we fall into is the idea that violence is only perpetrated by, and to, a certain kind of person. While statistics tell us that there is a gendered nature to violence, it is important for health professionals to remember that violence occurs across all cultures, communities and religions regardless of wealth and education. There is no stereotypical victim of violence, but acknowledging that these attitudes exist is important.

Idea for Healthcare Professionals #5: Be A Leader, Speak Up

Recent research by the Medical Board of Australia found that doctors are among the most trusted professions. As leaders in the communities, health professionals are well placed to promote respect as part of a holistic approach to good health and well-being. By calling out behaviours that contribute to negative attitudes towards women, health professionals are able to set standards in their clinical practice, and amongst their colleagues, that violence is not acceptable.

Idea for Healthcare Professionals #6: Call Out Sexism

There is an opportunity for health professionals to prevent violence against women at an individual level by understanding the attitudes that drive violence. Sexist language, comments and behaviours are enablers that allow negative attitudes towards women to persist. By calling out these actions and making it very clear that this is not tolerated or accepted in the workplace, clinic or medical institution, it’s a step that all health professionals can make to help address damaging attitudes.

Idea for Healthcare Professionals #7: Set the Example

Behave in a way that signals to everyone that you take these issues very seriously. Everyone enjoys and is productive in a fun work environment, but sexist jokes, comments, and conversations set a poor example. Calling out sexist comments, allowing women to speak without interruption, and being respectful of physical boundaries are simple ways that you can show those around you how it’s possible to be a person people enjoy being around without demonstrating or encouraging poor behaviour.

Idea for Healthcare Professionals #8: Make Resources and Messaging Visible To Patients

Placing support resources around the workplace may seem like an insignificant measure, but it capitalises on an opportunity to reinforce a safe space without any formal exchange of words. Regardless of how friendly a workplace may be, there are many women who do not report violence for a number of reasons. Where possible, having these resources in both highly visible, and more discreet areas of the office, may allow a woman the opportunity she needs to access this information.

Idea for Healthcare Professionals #9: Create a ‘Cone of Trust’

Often times it is in a clinical or medical setting where evidence of violence is either identified and/or disclosed. For such reasons, the relationship between a health professional and patient is of significant importance. Ensuring patients feel safe, heard, and have confidence in the practitioner’s ability to provide the right support, enables a culture of trust where help can be sought.

Idea for Healthcare Professionals #10: Ask the Right Questions

Utilising a domestic violence screening tool can assist health professionals in identifying and responding to patients who are at risk of, or experiencing violence. Checking in with patients by asking general questions about their well-being is a good way to keep the communication pathways open. When violence is suspected, remaining sensitive to the reasons why a woman may have chosen not to disclose this information, and by asking the right questions can prompt opportunities for discussion.

Idea for Healthcare Professionals #11: Be Mindful Of Creating Unintentionally Unsafe Spaces

In circumstances where a woman has separated herself from a violent situation, it is useful for health professionals to be mindful that creating an unintended unsafe space is a possibility. Personal documentation and health records pertaining to a child or dependent from a previous violent relationship may allow a perpetrator unknown to health professionals, access to personal information, potentially compromising the safety of the woman. Ensuring that all staff that care for the patient are aware of such circumstances will ensure that confidentiality is upheld.

Idea for Healthcare Professionals #12: Know How, And Where, To Refer

Building relationships with legal centres, domestic violence crisis centres and community organisations that support women experiencing violence will ensure that the referral process is smooth and efficient. Maintaining these connections not only supports a collaborative approach, it also ensures the patient receives the right mental, social and medical supports necessary.

Idea for Healthcare Professionals #13: Understand Legal and Administrative Pathways

Having some basic knowledge of legal rights is extremely useful. Where it is not possible for a staff member on-site to have this knowledge, at the very least having access to legal support services or legal professionals will assist health professionals in providing an appropriate response. There are some great resources and initiatives out there, In Australia, 1800RESPECT has resources for support workers and professionals responding to women experiencing violence. Health Justice Partnerships in Victoria are also implementing a new legal welfare model into hospitals to make legal advice more accessible to women.

Idea for Healthcare Professionals #14: Take Good Notes

In the instance where a disclosure has been made, and a woman chooses to take legal action, patient notes can sometimes be called on as evidence to support her case. Doctors can assist in these circumstances by keeping detailed patient notes.

Idea for Healthcare Professionals #15: Recognise Your Unique Position

Healthcare professionals who care for women during pregnancy occupy a unique position in society. Demonstrate that you understand this by being a champion for women of all ages. Establish an environment of respect, challenge behaviours that cultivate negative attitudes towards women and don’t hesitate to let people know that violence or disrespect is not tolerated.

Idea for Healthcare Professionals #16: Use Your Influence

Never miss an opportunity to advocate for women’s safety. Your role in women’s health sets you apart and delivers unique opportunities for you to influence policy. Look for opportunities to have these discussions with your colleagues and professional networks. Don’t be afraid to make suggestions as to how your workplace could be more equitable. Get involved in initiatives that support prevention initiatives and tell your friends about it. Make the point. Deliver the message. Argue for change.

16 Things You Can Donate to Women’s Shelters to Help Change Lives

Women’s shelters are often the first-stop safe location for women who are seeking refuge from abusive relationships. Shelters are halfway houses where many women and children get their first reprieve from a life filled with fear and pain; where they get their uninterrupted night’s sleep in days, months, or even years; and where they can take their first steps in their journey towards healing from their trauma and rebuilding their lives.

While shelters do provide a roof over the women and children’s heads, they are also chronically underfunded and always overstretched, relying on the surrounding communities and generous donors to provide some of the basic necessities needed to help get survivors back on their feet again. Whether it’s providing items to meet a baby’s needs, or sponsoring gas or a public transport pass to get a survivor to a job interview on time, we can all give a little something to support the efforts of shelters to help victims survive and thrive.

Here are 16 items that you can donate to help women in women’s shelters, for when they first arrive and when they are starting to rebuild their lives.

This is by no means a comprehensive list but it’s a start. When in doubt as to what necessities your nearest women’s shelter would welcome, always call to ask. And finally, if you can’t decide what to give, consider giving a cash donation instead so the shelter can buy what they need.

Introduction by Regina Yau and Samantha Joseph; List compiled by Samantha Joseph; Additional content by Regina Yau.

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When they first arrive at the shelter

Recommendation for Donation 1: Bras and Underwear

We may take the basics for granted, but because of the circumstances of most women when they leave an abusive home – no time to pack, plan or prepare – even necessities have to be left behind. Bras and underwear will always be appreciated by women in shelters who may have left their abusive home with just the clothes on their backs.

Note: For hygiene reasons, please always donate new bras and underwear, not second-hand ones.

Recommendation for Donation 2: Gift Cards for Clothes

While donated clothes are always welcome, not everyone at the women’s shelter will be able to find clothes that fit right. It may seem small – after all, some might say, at least they have clothes – but when you have little to nothing of your own and you’re trying to start over, clothes that fit and fit the occasion can make a huge difference. It will enable them to buy something simple like pyjamas which play a practical role in providing comfort and giving them back some dignity by giving them something to sleep in aside from their day clothes.

Recommendation for Donation 3: Bed Linens and Blankets

A good night’s sleep is a rare commodity for many victims and survivors. Survivors newly arrived at shelters are often exhausted and sleep deprived. You can help shelters provide a comfortable, clean sleeping environment for survivors by donating clean bedsheets, linens, pillows, pillowcases, blankets, and even mattresses.

Recommendation for Donation 4: Laundry Detergent

Keeping clothes clean and fresh gives a boost of confidence and self-respect to women at the shelter and doing laundry (a very run-of-the-mill task) may help some survivors feel more normal again. So when you’re packing clothes, bed linens and other washable items to take to the shelter, don’t forget to include a few jumbo bottles of laundry detergents (including at least one type for sensitive or allergy-prone skin) with them.

Recommendation for Donation 5: Toiletries

There’s nothing like the feeling of cleanliness that comes with a good shower. Every shelter houses women with different hair types, skin types and hygiene requirements. So make a small but thoughtful donation by providing them with choices of hair care products, dental hygiene products, deodorant, body wash, and soap for something as basic as bath time.

Recommendation for Donation 6: Pads and Tampons

Even among women, we rarely talk about the need for sanitary products at shelters, but they are very necessary and often in short supply. Imagine not being able to access these things when you need them. It’s an easy and affordable thing to do to pick up a few boxes for donation the next time you’re at a pharmacy or supermarket.

Recommendation for Donation 7: Baby Supplies

Infants and toddlers who come in to shelters with their mothers are at a vulnerable age and need certain things – baby formula, baby blankets, age-appropriate toys like small stuffies, clothes for little ones that fast outgrow what they have would make a big difference in providing a little hope and easing a mother’s concern. So why not put together a nice box of all these necessities to donate to your nearest women’s shelter? At the very least, consider adding a few new packs of diapers and baby wipes to the list of items you plan on donating.

Recommendation for Donation 8: Kids’ Games, Crafts And Books

Children at women’s shelters are going through a confusing and often traumatic time in their lives but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be given the opportunity to still be children. Games, crafts, and books will help both children and mothers find moments of peace and creativity. So if you have board games and video games that your children have outgrown, add them to the stash of things you plan to donate to the shelter. Pick up some extra sets of craft supplies the next time you’re shopping for your craft hobby or your kids. Get children’s books that your children have outgrown. Then box them all up and take them to the nearest women’s shelter.

Recommendation for Donation 9: School Supplies

Older children and teenagers at the women’s shelter should not have their schooling disrupted. Whether they will resume going to school or will be home-schooled for their safety, they will need school supplies. Ease the worries of both mother and child by donating stationery, text books, learning aids, used tablets and laptops, and even bus passes to help the kids get to school.

Recommendation for Donation 10: Pet Supplies

In homes riddled by domestic abuse, pets are often held hostage or tortured as part of the abuser’s modus operandi for controlling his partner and children. In many cases, women and children are reluctant to leave their home because they are unable to bring their beloved pet with them. Some women’s shelters are now recognising the need to house pets as part of helping survivors escape. If your nearest women’s shelter does so, consider donating jumbo packs of dog and cat food, pet shampoo, pet toys, cat litter, and other pet basics to help keep the shelter’s kennel residents clean, fed, and comfortable while they provide comfort to their human family.

When they are rebuilding their lives

Recommendation for Donation 11: Second-hand Work Clothes and Shoes

Do you have work attire like suits, formal button-down shirts, tailored skirts, and pairs of nearly-new work heels that no longer fit you or which you just haven’t worn in months? Donate your gently-used work clothes and shoes to your nearest women’s shelter – this will give the women something suitable to wear when they go for interviews to start rebuilding their life, where potential employees are often judged first based on how they look. Remember to send them to the dry cleaners or launder them before donating them to the shelter so they are all fresh and ready to wear.

Recommendation for Donation 12: Personal Grooming Supplies

Seemingly inconsequential but incredibly impactful, nail polish and makeup provide an extra boost of confidence for survivors who are taking their first steps towards find work. Being well-groomed alongside being well-dressed will help them make a positive impression on potential employers.

Recommendation for Donation 13: Public Transport Passes and Gas Cards

Getting from one place to another in time for a job interview, meeting or just to get to work while staying at a shelter can be difficult, especially with the cost of transportation and gas going up year on year. Access to public transport for survivors at city-based shelters and helping survivors with cars to fill a tank with petrol will significantly ease this struggle. Depending on the location of the shelter, you could donate annual or monthly public transport passes to women at shelters in cities. For survivors with cars or doing car pools in suburban or rural areas, gas cards loaded with enough credit for several tanks of gas will help with up to a month of getting to work and back.

Recommendation for Donation 14: Cell Phones

When applying for jobs, cell phones are a crucial instrument of communication because it allows survivors to make follow-up calls and inquiries as well as provide potential employers with a way of reaching the survivor. If you have a few older models lying around at home, why not pass them to your nearby women’s shelter to be recycled and reused? Better yet, organise a cell phone drive to collect used – but still functioning – cell phones from your friends, family, and co-workers and deliver a box full of them (together with the right cell phone chargers) to your local women’s shelter.

Recommendation for Donation 15: New SIMs and Call/Data Plans

Some survivors do bring their cell phones with them when they escape. However, their source of income or access to their bank account may be cut off by their abusive partner or spouse who control the family finances. So donate a few prepaid SIMs for them to simultaneously obtain a new phone number that their abuser cannot reach them at while giving them a means to make calls to potential employers and landlords as they get ready to rebuild their lives. For those with smartphones, get them pre-paid data plans or make arrangements to pay for 1 – 3 months of a basic data package for them.

Recommendation for Donation 16: Laptops, Desktops, and Tablets

As part of applying for jobs, survivors will need access to computers to fill out online forms, write resumes, and email application letters. So if you have still-functional desktop computers, laptops, and tablets that you are no longer using or are thinking of replacing with a newer model, consider donating them to your nearest women’s shelter. Make sure to delete all your personal files but keep a word processing programme like Microsoft Word and a browser like Firefox or Google Chrome in the computer, laptop, or desktop you’re donating so that survivors have instant access to these basic tools.

16 Ideas for Using Technology to Prevent and Stop Violence against Women

More than any other time in human history, the 21st century has seen a breakneck pace in the development of new technologies and the constant improvement and refinement of existing technologies. Almost half the world has internet access now with the rest catching, up as smartphones become increasingly cheap and ubiquitous in even the most remote areas of the world.

Technology cannot end violence against women (VAW) – only people can do that within their families, communities, and cultures. However, technology can be invaluable tools in the fight to end VAW in various ways:

  • It is a staple part of the anti-VAW activist’s toolkit to help stop VAW from happening, bring awareness to the issues surrounding VAW, and move society closer to ending it.
  • In today’s uber-connected world, technology functions as a magnifying glass for gender inequality and gender-based violence – the Internet, social media and mobile phones put a spotlight on stereotypes, misogyny and harassment.
  • Technology can also be a tool of empowerment for women, bringing them education and avenues through which they can tell their own stories. In this way, it can be life changing.

In this 16 for 16 article, we present 16 actionable ideas as a starting point to inspire you to use the technologies available to you to help stop VAW in your family, community, and culture. It is by no means a complete list but it’s a good place to begin.

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

Introduction by Anushia Kandasivam and Regina Yau; List curated, compiled, and written by Anushia Kandasivam; Additional content by Regina Yau.

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Anti-VAW Tech Use Technique 1: Crowdsourcing Data

One of the most important tools in the fight to end VAW is accurate and comprehensive data about VAW. Data is essential to understand VAW and for education and policy making. There are initiatives and programmes around the world that enable women (and men) to contribute data in the form of testimonials on VAW. This data can be used to shape policy and efficient implementation and develop innovative strategies to build safe and inclusive public spaces. For example, HarrassMap in Egypt collects stories on street harassment, gang abuse, women being assaulted during the Arab Spring demonstrations and more, and also maps where these incidences occur. Global initiative Hollaback also gathers testimonials and maps where they occur.

Anti-VAW Tech Use Technique 2: Education and Training via Digital Libraries

According to the United Nations, 31 million girls of primary school age are not in school and of these 17 million are expected never to enter school. There are 34 million female adolescents out of school. Lack of education keeps women in poverty and makes them even more vulnerable to gender-based violence including domestic violence, child marriage, and forced marriage. Lobbying your local government to provide community centres equipped with digital resources for self-learning and where locals can work together through peer-learning can be a first step to breaking down some socio-economic and gender barriers that challenge women.

Anti-VAW Tech Use Technique 3: Educating Through Gaming

Though video games have a dark history of promoting misogyny and violence, there are a growing number of Facebook, computer and mobile games that were created to educate players about VAW, stimulate the experience of VAW, or just start the conversation about VAW. Some games to check out are the interactive Angry Brides, created by matrimonial website Shaadi.com that raises awareness about the tradition of dowry and the impact it has on women in India, and Hannah, where the gamer uses tools to assist Hannah, a victim of domestic violence.

Anti-VAW Tech Use Technique 4: Wearable Tech

Wearable technology is becoming more mainstream now, but most people know it only for its ability to monitor health and fitness, and link you to your smartphone. There are, however wearable technologies that double up as tools to help women stay safe. For example: ROAR For Good’s wearable fashion accessory Athena is also a high-tech rape whistle linked to a mobile app that activates when a button is pressed for three seconds. The user can activate a loud alarm and flashing lights, and trigger Athena to alert local authorities and chosen contacts. The Safelet, which looks like a bracelet, has two buttons that when pressed sends a message to a contact, along with an alert that allows the contact to automatically call an emergency number.

Anti-VAW Tech Use Technique 5: Empowering SMS Services

Not everyone in the world who has access to a mobile phone has a smartphone or access to the Internet, which is why having SMS services that help women stay safe is important. According to the World Bank, if a mobile phone exists in a household, then all members could theoretically use it. This extended access means better dissemination of information. Technologies that connect apps to SMS exist for those who do not always have access to the Internet. For example, you can ask Kitestring via SMS to check up on you in a set time after which Kitesting sends you a text. If you do not reply, it will send a message you created to your emergency contact.

Anti-VAW Tech Use Technique 6: Social Media Awareness

Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have been used for years to spread awareness, tell women’s stories and engage the public. On-going campaigns such as #RedMyLips, #YesAllWomen and #EverydaySexism reach millions of people, attract the attention of mainstream media and get people talking. You can share your stories, experiences and thoughts on VAW and feminism via these and various other campaigns on social media, including #WhyIStayed, #MasculinitySoFragile, #NotBuyingIt and #RapeCultureIsWhen.

 

Anti-VAW Tech Use Technique 7: Staying Safe with Apps

There are apps for everything nowadays, so it is not surprising that there are numerous safety apps for women as well as apps that educate users about VAW and what they can do to prevent it. For example, Watch Over Me, Circle of 6 and Safetipin are good safety apps that allow users to quickly contact trusted friends or emergency numbers, or instruct the app to contact them in certain situations. The Love is Not Abuse app is aimed at educating teenagers about dating violence.

Anti-VAW Tech Use Technique 8: Helplines and Hotlines

Technology does not always have to be the latest to be effective. In rural areas around the world, phone technology is being used to provide national hotlines to provide counselling, support and advice to women and girls facing violence. In recent years, sophisticated computer systems linking phone networks has meant more efficient operations and more people assisted. In Palestine, the Women’s Protection Helpline and Child Protection Helpline also gather data on demographics of violence in the country. In Afghanistan, some cases handled by the first toll-free family support hotline, locally known as 6464, have seen legal action. You can help your local helpline by donating or volunteering your services.

Anti-VAW Tech Use Technique 9: Connecting Rural Women

Traditional systems of communication and information dissemination, such as radio broadcasts, are still widely used around the world. However, women in rural areas are less likely to have time and space to sit and listen to the radio because of their domestic workload. Innovative digital communication networks can help bring awareness and education to women and girls very rural areas where the majority of them are illiterate and may live without consistent access to electricity, which limits their connectivity to information technology. For example, US-based non-profit Media Matters for Women has initiated a project in rural Sierra Leone that links special radio broadcasting programmes with mobile phones to distribute critical news and information to women and girls about their rights and available support services

Anti-VAW Tech Use Technique 10: Holding Governments Accountable

A lot of the time, evidence of VAW is difficult to impossible to produce, meaning that women and girls are unable to lodge proper reports, bring perpetrators to justice or even escape from violence. Information communications technology can help bridge this gap by enabling organisations to strengthen documentation, reporting and monitoring processes of gender-based violence and use the evidence to put pressure on governments to deliver on commitments to combat and eliminate VAW. The Women’s Rights Programme of the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) partnered with local organisations in Cambodia and the Democratic Republic of Congo to do just this, using free and open source software to post information on an online interactive map.

Anti-VAW Tech Use Technique 11: Stripping the Social Acceptability of VAW

In most places in the world, VAW is not seen as a big problem for various reasons. Street harassment for example, is not seen as a problem and instead seen as ‘harmless teasing’ or ‘something that always happens’. Women do not come forward to authorities because of fear and a lack of proper reporting avenues, making VAW an invisible problem. Technology can go a long way to help bring VAW into the spotlight, from social media campaigns to apps and other software that allows reporting and data collection. HarassMap is one such tech – once a month, trained volunteers forming Community Action Teams go to local communities to talk to leaders about what they can do to stop street harassment, using data collected from HarassMap to inform and assist planning.

Anti-VAW Tech Use Technique 12: Hackathons Against VAW

The tech community plays an important role in developing tech tools to prevent and eventually end VAW. Hackathons, where the community gets together to raise awareness and develop new technology, are great ways to do this. In the past, hackathons have resulted in some innovative tech that have helped fight VAW. For example, in the World Health Organization’s Hackathon Against Domestic Violence, the winning team built an anonymous cyberspace forum for victims to learn from and share their experiences without having to give up their privacy. Other prototypes included a web and SMS-based app to alert trusted friends and family in the case of teenage girls being taken abroad and an SMS- and web-integrated hotline that provides information on gender-related violence and how to report an incident

Anti-VAW Tech Use Technique 13: Responsible Design

There are several ways responsible design can help in the fight against VAW: in the creative design of advertisement – educating the public about VAW or ensuring ads, packaging and other commercial items do not contain sexist or misogynistic messages – and in the design of apps and other tools women use to help them fight violence. One example of the former is the UN Women advertisement campaign that used real Google searches to show how widespread sexism and VAW is. As for the latter, responsible design is important to ensure vulnerable groups are not at risk from using apps and other tools. For instance, safety app Circle of 6 is designed to look like a social app so that you can use it in front of someone who is making you uncomfortable without them knowing what you are doing.

Anti-VAW Tech Use Technique 14: Challenging Stereotypes, 21st Century Style

Software development and programming are among the biggest industries today, so it is no wonder that education in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) are increasingly popular. These are traditionally seen as ‘masculine’ subjects and dominated by males in the workforce but more and more girls and women are challenging these stereotypes and breaking barriers. Organisations such as Girls Who Code bring education and awareness to the public about why it is important to provide equal opportunities in these areas for girls and provide avenues for that education. Global non-profit Girls In Tech focuses on girls and women who are passionate about technology and provides support and training for female entrepreneurs in the technology startup space.

Anti-VAW Tech Use Technique 15: Easing Access to Healthcare

VAW is a burden on healthcare worldwide but at the same time women who suffer from violence generally have little access to healthcare either because they live in remote or rural areas, or they are prevented from seeking healthcare. Mobile healthcare technology has made healthcare access easier for some of these women, and governments are now starting to train healthcare professionals to use mobile health tech to detect domestic abuse. For example, India’s Mobilise! programme trains nurses to identify women at risk of violence and encourage them to disclose their experiences. And in Indonesia, the government mobilised 100,000 midwives by providing them with up-to-date healthcare practices through an SMS programme called Bidan.

Anti-VAW Tech Use Technique 16: A Mobile Education

The mobile phone can be used as a standalone technology to enable girls in schools to improve their education and learning. According to UNESCO, which held its Mobile Learning Week in March, mobile learning can promote inclusion in education. Girls in some countries are unable to go to Internet cafes to access resources for school work, so a mobile phone becomes an essential tool for their education. Mobile learning is still a new concept, so it will take more research and definitely some government policy to develop local content and provide access to enable it to work where it is needed.

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

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

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

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

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

Written, researched, and compiled by Rubina Singh.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo Credits:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written and compiled by Regina Yau

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Female Role Model 1: Ana Salvá – Spain

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

Female Role Model 2: Anuja Gupta – India

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Female Role Model 6: Karla Jacinto – Mexico

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

Female Role Model 7: Kerstin Weigl – Sweden

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

Female Role Model 8: Malebogo Malefhe – Botswana

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

Female Role Model 9: Marijana Savic, Serbia

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

Female Role Model 10: Paradise Sourori – Afghanistan

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

Female Role Model 11: Ronelle King – Barbados

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

Female Role Model 12:  Saida Ali – Kenya

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

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

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

Female Role Model 14: Sharmin Akter – Bangladesh

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

Female Role Model 15: Stephanie Harvey – Canada

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

Female Role Model 16: Vera Baird – United Kingdom

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

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Photo Credits:

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

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

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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Photo Credits:

(A) Collage

Top Row (L – R):

Bottom Row (L – R):

(B) Article

The Pixel Project VAW e-News Digest — ’16 for 16′ 2016 Edition

news-coffee9-150x150Welcome to our annual “16 for 16” Special Edition of The Pixel Project’s VAW e-News Digest. In this edition, we bring you the top 16 news headlines in each category related to violence against women over 2016.

2016 is remembered by many for its significant cultural and world events, and this is no exception for the news and developments about violence against women. While there have been distressing news such as violent acts going viral and politicians identified with rape culture, there has also been growing awareness, bolder acts of resistance and progress in legislation.

Here are the 16 biggest trending VAW headlines of 2016:

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

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

With all good wishes,
The Pixel Project Team


General Violence Against Women


 Domestic Violence


Rape and Sexual Assault


 Human/Sex Trafficking


 Female Genital Mutilation


 Forced Marriage and Honour Killing


Activism

The Pixel Project Selection 2016: 16 Authors Saying NO To Violence Against Women

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

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, 60 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 $33,500 for the cause to end VAW to date.

In this article, we honour 16 of this year’s bestselling authors from our 2015 and 2016 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 Anushia Kandasivam

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Author Against VAW 1: Alexandra Sokoloff

alexandra-sokoloffAlexandra Sokoloff is the bestselling, Thriller Award-winning and Bram Stoker and Anthony Award-nominated author of eleven supernatural, paranormal and crime thrillers. When asked why she supports the cause to end violence against women, she said, “Violence against women is an atrocity that no civilised person should allow to happen. Ending it should be everybody’s cause. Any deep inequality like that…should be ended. The people who don’t see anything wrong happening [have] an amazing blindness that I don’t understand.”

 

Author Against VAW 2: Christopher Golden

christopher-golden_thumbnailChristopher Golden is the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of such novels as Snowblind, Tin Men, Dead Ringers, and Of Saints and Shadows. His original novels have been published in more than fifteen languages in countries around the world. Christopher has been speaking out against harassment at conventions and when asked how geek culture can be more welcoming towards women and girls during his Google Hangout, he said: “I think that it’s a combination of elements. I absolutely think the situation…has been dramatically improving over the last few years. The reason [for this] as far as I can tell is the voices – creators and fans standing up and speaking against the ridiculous misogyny. The trolls will always be there and the problem [with them] is that their voices are so loud. We need to have loud voices in response to them and band together, whether you’re online or at a convention. I posted a blog where I talked about wanting to be a wingman – if I’m at a convention and you’re there and you feel unsafe in some way and need somebody to get you through a circumstance, I’ll be happy to do that. I encourage fans and creators at conventions to make the same kind of statements publicly, to get out there and…help create a safe space. These are the ways we can make a difference so that the trolls’ voices aren’t quite so loud.”

Author Against VAW 3: Claudia Gray

claudia-grayClaudia Gray has worked as a lawyer, a journalist, a disc jockey, and an extremely poor waitress. Claudia is super excited to be the author of a new Star Wars novel Bloodline: New Republic, which came out in March 2016. When asked about speaking out against VAW, she said: “You have to be open to finding those opportunities and not be afraid to speak out. There have been so many writers who have helped bring this topic forward and helped young readers recognise this for what it is. There are so many disguises hung over this kind of abuse, to make it look like something other than it is. I think you have to work honestly and look for the opportunities to pitch in where you can, whether it’s donating time or books, or talking to readers in different contexts about this. I think that’s where you have to begin.

Author Against VAW 4: Colleen Gleason

colleen-gleason-croppedColleen Gleason is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling and award-winning author who has written everything from vampire hunters and dystopian romance to steampunk, historical romance and mysteries with a supernatural flair. All of Colleen’s books feature strong heroines experiencing fast-paced adventures, danger, mystery, and of course, romance. Speaking about how authors can kick off social change to end VAW, she said: “Whenever we have a forum to talk about this, and authors do have a platform through our stories or social media, we should. Authors can do that by writing characters who show respect towards women whether they agree with them [or not]. I think it’s important to show that you can disagree with someone or even not like someone but still have respect for them. I think that can come through all our platforms. Respecting people for who they are and not asserting control over everyone. We can also show characters without respect and then how other men or women are able to combat that character who is disrespectful or violent. If there is violence or disrespect, both genders need to respond to it.

Author Against VAW 5: Dan Wells

dan-wells_thumbnailDan Wells is the author of the Partials series and the John Cleaver series. His newest book Bluescreen is the first book in the Mirador series. He has been nominated for a Hugo, a Whitney, and a Campbell Award and has won two Parsec Awards for his podcast Writing Excuses, as well as a Hugo award for his writing. Dan strongly believes that men and boys must be engaged to end VAW. When asked why he supports The Pixel Project and the cause to end VAW, he said: “It feels like the most obvious thing. VAW is so common and accepted that it’s almost become white noise in our culture. We tend to not notice it. I support the Read For Pixels campaign in particular because I love the Celebrity Male Role Model aspect of it. If there’s a segment of the population that is sick and tired of listening to women tell them to stop beating women, if the only way to reach them is to get men to do it, then let’s do it. We need to talk to men directly. Yes, women need to be aware [of danger and how to protect themselves] and where they can turn when problems arise, but first and foremost VAW is a male problem, not a female problem, because it is men who are doing it. We as men need to stand up and…be role models for other men and boys. I love the Read For Pixels campaign precisely because it has such a strong focus on teaching men from childhood how to…be good and make the world a better place.

Author Against VAW 6: Darynda Jones

darynda-jonesNew York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Darynda Jones has won numerous awards for her work including a prestigious RITA, a Golden Heart, and a Daphne du Maurier. When asked why she supports the cause to end VAW, she said: “It’s a basic human right that women should not ever have to live in fear or worry that they are going to get hit or live through the day. Women should never be controlled. Violence is not just physical, it’s just as much mental and verbal. It’s just not OK. Women need to know that there’s help out there and they can change things and they have power. They are powerful and strong and do have power to change things. Until they seek that help and figure out…how to break that cycle, it’s important to know there is help out there.

Author Against VAW 7: Gregg Hurwitz

gregg-hurwitz_thumbnailGregg Hurwitz is the New York Times bestselling author of 15 thrillers, most recently, Orphan X. His novels have been shortlisted for numerous literary awards, graced top ten lists, and have been translated into 27 languages. He is also a New York Times Bestselling comic book writer, having penned stories for Marvel (Wolverine, Punisher) and DC (Batman, Penguin). Gregg is turning character stereotypes on their heads by writing traditionally hypermasculine characters, such as assassins and spies, as respectful and empathetic people. Speaking about how a popular work of fiction can push forward the conversation on male violence against women in a constructive manner, he said: “One of the things I’m always very careful to do is to write women and their circumstances that are well rounded. It’s a fine line between writing a scene where a woman is being molested and your hero swings in and white knights his way through and where the women aren’t fully formed characters but merely there as a foil for the male character. One of the things important to me in this conversation is to have characters who are really fully formed. One of the ways you move forward any genre is making sure there are no straw women, that you’re not creating character that only serve as a foil and contrast to the male characters but are fully formed. And the more powerful the women are around a man, I feel it reflects better on the man. Both genders need to move apiece if you want to start to address these issues.

Author Against VAW 8: Keri Arthur

keri-arthurKeri Arthur, the New York Times bestselling author of the Outcast, Souls of Fire, Dark Angels, and Riley Jenson Guardian series, has written more than thirty books. She’s been nominated in the Best Contemporary Paranormal category of the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Awards and has won a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award for urban fantasy. When talking about realistic portrayals of assault or abuse in fiction, and what authors can do to bring more awareness to VAW, she said: “I think you can’t gloss over it, you’ve got to address the consequences to the characters to make it more realistic, and have characters seeking help through friends or family or anything else. [Authors can help] by supporting organisations like The Pixel Project and speaking out against VAW – talking about it. Telling the right stories and having strong female characters who won’t back down and stand strong is very important too.

Author Against VAW 9: Lauren Beukes

lauren-beukes_croppedLauren Beukes is the author of The Shining Girls, Broken Monsters, Zoo City and Moxyland. Her books have been translated into 26 languages, won major literary, horror, science fiction and mystery prizes and been optioned for film adaptations. She also writes comics, screenplays and journalism. Lauren believes that though there are many keyboard warriors out there, supporters of the cause to end VAW should put their money (or time) where their mouth is. Speaking about how it takes the efforts of the whole community to change prevailing attitudes towards women, she said: “The problem is this idea that women are less than human – women are belongings, sex objects, subservient to men, that we’re not people. That the real danger and that where you have to put the education in. It starts with raising your voices…against it all the time. You need to intervene. It’s about stepping up if you think someone is being harassed, about calling someone out on it. […] We need to be active and engaged in our own lives, find an organisation that works in these areas and volunteer or donate.

Author Against VAW 10: Laurie R. King

laurie-r-kingLaurie R. King is the New York Times bestselling author of 22 novels and other works, including the Mary Russell-Sherlock Holmes stories (from The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, named one of the 20th century’s best crime novels by the IMBA, to 2015’s Dreaming Spies). She has won or been nominated for an alphabet of prizes from Agatha to Wolfe, been chosen as guest of honour at several crime conventions, and is probably the only writer to have both an Edgar and an honorary doctorate in theology. On the role men can play in stopping VAW and who she counts as a role model in this context, she said: “Anyone who says ‘no’ [is a role model]. There’s a lot of talk on college campuses in the US about the problems of getting young men to not feel that they’re betraying their maleness by standing up for someone. If you have someone whose sense of self is enough that they say to a male friend of theirs ‘No, that’s not right’, that I think is the kind of deep everyday heroic act that I’d really like to see. There’s a fair amount of it around but I think we need to have each young man out there see that this is what they should be striving towards.

Author Against VAW 11: Max Gladstone

max-gladstone_thumbnailMax Gladstone has been nominated twice for the John W Campbell Best New Writer Award. Tor Books published Four Roads Cross, the fifth novel in Max’s Craft Sequence (preceded by Three Parts Dead, Two Serpents Rise, Full Fathom Five, and Last First Snow) in July 2016. Max’s game Choice Of The Deathless was nominated for a 2013 XYZZY Award, and his short fiction has appeared on Tor.com and in Uncanny Magazine. On the reason he supports the cause to end VAW, he said: “I just think violence against women is terribly wrong. We live in a culture that’s profoundly and systematically misogynistic […] You need to understand the way your culture fits together and then you need to make it better. It’s your responsibility to not just continue blindly on the path that has been set for you but to look around and try to fix things so that the next person has a little bit better of a place to try to fix than you inherited. That’s our responsibility and that’s why I support the cause of ending violence against women.

Author Against VAW 12: Meg Cabot

meg-cabot-croppedMeg Cabot’s books for both adults and tweens/teens have included multiple #1 New York Times bestsellers, selling well over 25 million copies worldwide. Her Princess Diaries series has been published in more than 38 countries and was made into two hit films by Disney. Meg’s numerous other award-winning books include the Mediator series and the Heather Wells mystery series. When asked why she supports The Pixel Project and the cause to end VAW, she said: The Pixel Project has been really awesome. I’ve been aware of the campaign for a long time and I really wanted to hang out with you. I think ending violence against women is a really important cause to support because it is unfortunately so common and people don’t speak out against it enough. It’s one of those secret things that goes on in every neighbourhood, in every income bracket in every part of the world. I think if we can talk about it more it’s something we can all help combat.

Author Against VAW 13: Nalini Singh

nalini-singhNalini Singh is the New York Times bestselling author of the Psy-Changeling, Guild Hunter and Rock Kiss series. Nalini believes that talking about VAW is key to awareness and change, saying: “It’s important to talk about it because it’s something that people get uncomfortable about and so it doesn’t get talked about. At the same time, the people who need the help are some of the most vulnerable people so those of us who can talk about it should talk about it so that it’s visible and people feel that they can approach someone and say they need help. As a writer, I can talk about it, discuss it, I can help in that way. It’s my small contribution to The Pixel Project as well to help fundraise and help the discussion keep going.

Author Against VAW 14: Steven Erikson

steven-erikson_thumbnailSteven Erikson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen series, including The Crippled God, Dust of Dreams, Toll the Hounds and Reaper’s Gale, have met with widespread international acclaim and established him as a major voice in the world of fantasy fiction. On what parents and influential male role models can do to prevent VAW in future generations and get boys involved, he said: “I think to remove the stigma of empathy. A lot of what is presented as the male approach to living in the world is quite confrontational these days and involves a lot of implicit aggression. My argument to anyone in almost any circumstance is ‘What would it be like standing in that person’s shoes?’ As a writer, that’s part of my job – to stand in the shoes of people in very different circumstances and then find some element of commonality that invites the reader to identify with that person’s point of view. I’ve often described the Malazan series as a three million word plea for compassion, and that’s what the series is about. I think that level of empathy offered would have an effect on how people treat each other regardless of gender. But now we seem to be fighting a battle against hostility towards that notion of empathy.”

Author Against VAW 15: Tamora Pierce

tamora-pierceBased in Syracuse NY, Tamora Pierce is the New York Times bestselling writer of over 28 books of fantasy, most with girl heroes. She has also published short stories, articles, and comics. The first book of her next Tortall series will be published in Summer of 2017, followed by The Spy’s Guide to Tortall: From the Desk of George Cooper in fall of the same year. During her Google Hangout, Tamora read an excerpt from her book Page that centered around an incident of assault and bystander intervention, and she also recounted an incident where she witnessed a man assaulting his wife on a busy public street and joined a group of women to help stop the assault and call the police. Speaking about what people can do about bystander intervention and reporting, she said: “Call for help. You can get more with a group of people than just one person by yourself. At the very least, you can call out ‘Stop that, let her alone.’ If he thinks more people are watching, he may break off. There’s always a risk, and if you feel too afraid, don’t beat yourself up for that. Not all of us are heroes; I certainly am not. You have to measure your fears and your strength. Report what you can always, and take notes of what the man and woman looked like. Do what you can and don’t blame yourself.

Author Against VAW 16: Victoria V.E. Schwab

v-e-schwab_thumbnailVictoria (V.E.) Schwab is the author of eleven novels, including the #1 New York Times bestselling This Savage Song, the New York Times & USA Today bestselling A Darker Shade of Magic series, Vicious, and The Archived. Speaking about powerful women in fiction, how they are portrayed and what we can learn from them, she said: “Powerful women take many forms. Take Agent Carter and Miss Fisher – these are two extraordinarily powerful women with immense agency who are also hyperfeminine. I think we went through this period where to be powerful you have to be masculine and I don’t think masculinity is a key for female empowerment. I think it’s agency – you know what you want and you’re willing to take action to get it. I think it’s active over reactive – you don’t wait for somebody else to come up with the plan. It’s never a lack of fear…but rather a refusal to let fear stop them. I think that’s what makes a strong character.