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


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.



Book Cover Credits:

  1. A Safe Place – From “A Safe Place” (
  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” (
  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” (
  16. Dragon Blood – Courtesy of Berkley, an imprint of Penguin Random House

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written and compiled by Regina Yau


Female Role Model 1: Ana Salvá – Spain

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

Female Role Model 2: Anuja Gupta – India

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Female Role Model 6: Karla Jacinto – Mexico

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

Female Role Model 7: Kerstin Weigl – Sweden

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

Female Role Model 8: Malebogo Malefhe – Botswana

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

Female Role Model 9: Marijana Savic, Serbia

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

Female Role Model 10: Paradise Sourori – Afghanistan

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

Female Role Model 11: Ronelle King – Barbados

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

Female Role Model 12:  Saida Ali – Kenya

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

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

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

Female Role Model 14: Sharmin Akter – Bangladesh

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

Female Role Model 15: Stephanie Harvey – Canada

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

Female Role Model 16: Vera Baird – United Kingdom

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


Photo Credits:

  1. Ana Salvá – From “Q&A: Journalist Ana Salvá on the Crimes of Forced Marriage and Forced Pregnancy Under the Khmer Rouge” (VOA Cambodia)
  2. Anuja Gupta – Courtesy of the RAHI Foundation
  3. Carrie Goldberg – From
  4. Daisy Coleman – Courtesy of
  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
  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
  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” (