16 Ways College Students Can Transform a Culture of Violence Against Women on Campus

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

This year, Breakthrough shares a list of 16 actions that college students can take to prevent violence against women on college campuses.

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Transforming the culture of violence against women on campus starts with challenging the cultural norms that lead to sexual violence. By challenging these beliefs, we can get to the root of the problem and make sure that responses to violence are supportive.

Below are 16 ways to prevent and challenge violence against women on campus geared towards creating a campus culture in which all students feel safe and respected.

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Action Recommendation #1: Understand that violence on campus exists on a spectrum. It’s not just physical violence such as unwanted sexual contact, attempted sexual assault, and rape. Catcalling, stalking, spreading rumors, cyber-bullying–these things are violence too. Violence happens in intimate relationships and between people who are just friends. Recognising these various forms of violence will help you see when they happen, set clear boundaries for yourself, and help people who are in trouble.

Action Recommendation #2: Recognise that there’s no one “type” of person who commits violence. It’s not just men committing violence against women. The majority — but not all — of reported cases on campus involve male-perpetrated violence against women. All cases need to be taken seriously. The goal is creating a culture of safety for every student, no matter who they are.

Action Recommendation #3: College is all about learning. Statistics show that 1 in 5 women experience sexual assault while they’re at college. The first few weeks of the semester are when a majority of rapes are committed, often against first-year students. This period of time is a big issue facing students, parents, and faculty alike. It’s important to understand that this is everyone’s problem, and we need everyone to be part of the solution.

Action Recommendation #4: Say “I believe you.” Don’t participate in victim-blaming or casting doubt on survivors’ experiences. Instead, challenge victim-blaming. Be aware of the resources available to survivors, like campus wellness centers and rape crisis centers on your campus and in the surrounding community so that you can point friends and peers in the right direction. By supporting someone in this way, you can support survivors and make it clear that people who commit sexual violence need to be held accountable for their choices.

Action Recommendation #5: Consider your language. Think about the words and expressions used on your campus–for women? For men? For sex? Find ways to use language that encourages a culture in which people aren’t harassed or intimidated–and discourage language that demeans or excludes people.

Action Recommendation #6: Demand accountability at every level. Call it out when someone makes comments that are sexist, homophobic, racist, or transphobic. Or when you witness catcalling or bullying. We all can be the person who makes it clear when someone has crossed the line. Urge faculty and administrators to be proactive about prevention at your school. Don’t underestimate the power of student activism.

Action Recommendation #7: Take action across all of your communities. If you’re involved in extracurricular activities, a faith practice, internships, on a team, in a Greek chapter and anything else—support gender equity as a core value of your group. Make those spaces as inclusive and comfortable for everyone as possible.

Action Recommendation #8: Consent. Consent. Consent can be hard to navigate, especially with all the pressures that come with being on campus. So ask for it. Respect the answer you’re given. Consent can be sexy–but even when it isn’t, it’s absolutely necessary.

Action Recommendation #9: Fill in the gaps of your sex education. Unfortunately, many people don’t get adequate, accurate, informative, and non-judgmental sexual education–or any education at all around healthy relationships and sex whether in school or at home. There are resources on your campus that will help fill in the gaps we all have. Use what the resources you find to set examples of healthy relationships, ask questions, find answers, and have those difficult or challenging conversations about what consensual and healthy sex and relationships should look like!

Action Recommendation #10: Support and create representative media! Be aware of and critical of the media you consume. There is a lot of media that glorifies and exaggerates what college is all about. Much of our media does a poor job depicting women with any complexity beyond being an object of sexual desire to be won, and rarely (if ever) addresses issues of race, sexual orientation in a positive way. But there is a lot of media that does it right and deserves your support. The media you consume now does not have to be the media you create tomorrow. And whether you’re making posters about consent, or you’re creating a student film, do better than Hollywood. Harness your own creativity to create media that doesn’t support or make light of violence against women!

Action Recommendation #11: Foster healthy relationships. Campus life post-high school can feel liberating–but it’s also a little daunting. Without their familiar support system, some people can feel isolated or lonely, especially after facing violence. Creating a safe and respectful campus culture will help you to find and build the communities that will make your college experience even better. You’ll have the chance to surround yourself with people who share your values of respect and dignity, and experience new things while also feeling safe.

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Action Recommendation #12: Have fun safely. If you’re in an environment and you don’t feel comfortable, you don’t have to stay. Your wellbeing comes first–fun isn’t fun when you’re not having fun. Keep an eye out for anyone tampering with drinks. Intervene if you think someone is taking advantage of a person who might be impaired by alcohol or drugs. And be aware of other ways that your or anyone’s boundaries might be disrespected or ignored.

Action Recommendation #13: Remember: “fun” is not an excuse. And creating a hostile environment is definitely not fun. You probably don’t know what your new peers have seen, heard or been through. Be sensitive to other people’s experiences with sexual violence by being open and willing to learning, and respect others’ privacy. Every student’s safety and well-being takes priority over “just a joke.”

Action Recommendation #14: Extend your campus culture online. What you do online doesn’t occur in a vacuum. Social media can create hostile campus culture and facilitate bullying. If you encounter any cyberbullying, slut-shaming, rumor-spreading–or worse, threats or evidence of violence online–treat it as you would if you saw it happening in real life. Bystander intervention applies online too. So does consent! Ask before you share any information or media of other people.

Action Recommendation #15: Make your physical space a safer space. The campus space should be a safer space for everyone. Consider the physical landscape of your campus and its buildings—student housing, athletic facilities, and survivor/victim resources. These spaces should be accessible. Private spaces should be secure. These spaces shouldn’t contribute to an intimidating or unsupportive campus environment. Advocate for well-lit bathrooms, safe physical spaces, and anonymous reporting.

Action Recommendation #16: Make this your issue (it already is). Educate yourself and your friends about violence against women. Go to trainings and seminars. Attend or organise fundraising, awareness, or outreach events. Just be that person who embodies positive campus culture!

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Transforming Personal Pain Into Positive Action: The Pixel Project’s 16 Female Role Models 2015

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Today is the first day of 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence 2015 and The Pixel Project is kicking off our 16 For 16 campaign 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 18 countries and 4 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. This year, we’re very proud to include a number of teenage activists who are campaigning against child marriage and acid attacks.

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 2015 list of 16 female role models. We hope that these women would be an inspiration to others to get involved with the global movement to end violence against women. 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.

Written and compiled by Regina Yau

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.

Picture credits are listed at the bottom of the article.

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

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Female Role Model 1: Andrea Medina Rosas – Mexico

Andrea Medina Rosas_croppedAndréa Medina Rosas is a feminist human rights lawyer and independent consultant who works towards defending murdered and disappeared women, many who come from Ciudad Juárez, the city on the border of Mexico and the United States notoriously nicknamed the ‘capital of murdered women’. When Andréa was a teenager her feminist mother created an organisation for advancing women’s rights. Their first case involved helping a rape victim. Fifteen years later, Andréa is devoted to working with survivors of sexual violence and legally advocating for an end to violence against women. Andréa believes that women from different cultures need to come together to talk about gender violence and to work together on solutions.

Female Role Model 2: Charlotte Campbell-Stephen – Australia and Kenya

Charlotte Campbell Stephen_croppedIn 2006, Australian aid Charlotte Campbell-Stephen was brutally attacked and gang raped for 8 hours by a violent Nairobi gang. Campbell-Stephen courageously reported her rape in a roomful of male police. She took her rapists to court even though she was told by the police that no one won rape cases in Kenya (the Australian embassy in Kenya even advised her to go home). She was supported throughout her gruelling years-long court ordeal by the women from Nairobi’s slums, and Geoff Kinuya, the detective to whom she first reported her case in 2006. In May 2015, the documentary about her fight for justice, I Will Not Be Silenced, was launched at the 2015 Human Rights Arts and Film festival in Melbourne.

Female Role Model 3: Chieftainess Mwenda (Sophia Thomas Chibaye) – Zambia

Cheiftainee Mwanda_croppedChieftainess Mwenda (Sophia Thomas Chibaye) rules over 111 villagers is on a mission to stop child marriage – a mission which began when, four years ago, she learned about the dangers of teen pregnancies. She told the Thompson Reuters Foundation: “”No one should allow a child in school (to marry)”. Mwenda believes that educating her communities is the key to ending the practice of child marriage: “Children can only be safe in a school environment. As long as they remain in school they are safe from marriage.”

Female Role Model 4: Flavia Carvalho – Brazil

Flavia Carvalho_CroppedFlavia Carvalho is a tattoo artist who decided to use her skills to help survivors via her project A Pele da Flor (The Skin of the Flower) through which she tattoos over scars women had suffered from acts of violence free of charge. Carvalho was inspired to do so after she met a client who wanted to cover up a scar on her abdomen that was the result of a violent attack by a man whom she had turned down. She told The Huffington Post: “Each tattoo would act as an instrument for empowerment and a self-esteem booster… The project’s name refers to the Portuguese expression “A flor da pele” (deeper than skin), which speaks of how strongly we feel when facing an extremely difficult or challenging situation.”

Female Role Model 5: Fraidy Reiss – United States of America

headshot Fraidy Reiss_croppedFraidy Reiss’s marriage to an abusive husband was arranged by the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish community she came from when she was just 19 years old.  Reuss told NPR that she knew her husband for only three months before they were married, and that as she tried to raise her two daughters, she began to fear for their lives because her husband would lunge at her and describe in graphic detail how he was going to kill her. After courageously escaping her abuser and leaving the community, she founded Unchained At Last – a nonprofit dedicated to helping other American women escape arranged and forced marriages. Unchained At Last also offers women free legal assistance and representation, as well as assistance with the social services they need to rebuild their lives.

Female Role Model 6: Hadiqa Bashir – Pakistan

Hadiqa Bashir_CroppedWhen Hadiqa Bashir was 10 years old, her grandmother tried to pressure her into a marriage but she saw how one of her classmates who got married in the sixth grade suffered from severe domestic violence and, with the support of her uncle, fought her grandmother’s decision and won. Today, Hadiqa is a 13-year-old activist working to end child marriage in her culture while calling for families to send girls to school. She goes from door to door in her community to talk to parents of girls about the benefits of educating daughters. She said: “I realised that many other girls would suffer like my classmate, and that’s when I decided to start this campaign. Educate your children, don’t make them marry early, give them freedom. That is my message.”

Female Role Model 7: Inkosi Kachindamoto – Malawi

According to the UN Population Fund, Malawi has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world. The country is ranked 8th out of 20 countries considered to have the highest rates, and in 2012 one in every two girls was married before the age of 18. In June 2015, Senior Chief Inkosi Kachindamoto created a major stir when she annulled 330 customary marriages in Dedza district in the Central Region of Malawi, sent the children back to school, and fired the village heads who sanctioned the marriages. She told the Nyasa Times: “I don’t want youthful marriages, they must go to school … no child should be found loitering at home or doing household chores during school time.”

Female Role Model 8: Madeleine Rees – United Kingdom

Madeleine_Rees_(cropped)_compressedBritish human rights lawyer Madeleine Rees has worked on ending violence against women in the various roles and capacities she has taken on over her career. She was a United Nations official in Bosnia during which she blew the whistle on the role of UN peacekeepers in sex-trafficking. She has also helped shape the protocol for the investigation and documentation of sexual violence in war zones. Currently the secretary general of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), Rees said: “Stopping rape in war is never going to be entirely possible but there are ways to create more accountability.”

Female Role Model 9: Malika Saada Saar – United States of America

MALIKA headshot_CroppedMalika Saada Saar is a formidable activist and human rights lawyer who has devoted her life to advocating for the rights of women and girls. While at Georgetown University, Saada Saar founded Crossing the River, a written and spoken word workshop for mothers in recovery from substance abuse. The group eventually became the Rebecca Project, a policy and advocacy group which advocates for  women and families. The Rebecca Project’s notable successes include effectively lobbying for a ban on the practice of restraining incarcerated women during childbirth. Saar is currently the Executive Director of Rights4Girls, a human rights organisation that focuses on curbing violence against women through public policy and awareness.

Female Role Model 10: Massarat Misbah – Pakistan

Mussarat Misbah_croppedRenowned Pakistani beautician and entrepreneur Massarat Misbah was closing up one of her many beauty salons when she was approached by a young acid attack victim who begged her to help restore her face. Misbah was shocked at the disfigurement suffered by the young woman and decided to start a nonprofit arm of her beauty business called the Depilex Smile Again Foundation. To date, Misbah and her team have helped over 500 victims of acid attacks to restore their appearance through reconstructive surgery, apply for jobs, and rebuild their lives. Misbah told Women’s Agenda: “To me, Depilex Smile Again Foundation is a platform for survivors of acid and kerosene oil. It exists for them to come out of terrible situations and try to change their lives for the better.”

Female Role Model 11: Monica Singh – India and United States of America

Monica Singh_croppedA decade ago in Lucknow, India, Monica Singh suffered a brutal acid attack orchestrated by a man whose marriage proposal she turned down. Sixty-five percent of her body was burned severely and she had to undergo over 40 rounds of reconstructive surgery. Aside from rebuilding her own life as she works on her fashion career, she founded the Mahendra Foundation which provides support for other acid attack survivors. In her interview with The New York Times, she had this message for acid attack survivors: “Keep on living. Keep fighting. And be something that you always wanted to be. Forget that you lost your face, your soul is still intact, your mind is still intact. Keep on doing.”

Female Role Model 12: Muzoon Almellehan – Syria

Muzoon_Cropped16-year-old Muzoon Almellehan has been dubbed “the Malala of Syria” by her community of war survivors thanks to her tireless work to end child marriage over the past two years. Muzoon’s inspiration for her campaign began when she arrived in Jordan among an influx of Syrian refugees in 2013 and noticed that the rates of child marriage were rampant in the Za’atari refugee camp where she lives. UNICEF and Save the Children enlisted young activists to talk with parents about the importance of girls’ education. Muzoon joined up and quickly became an adept campaigner. She told the Daily Beast: “Lots people were listening [to me], even fathers… because I wouldn’t tell them in a forceful way, or say, ‘You have to send her to school.’ I’d initiate the debate and say girls’ education helps them the most.

Female Role Model 13: Sonita Alizadeh – Afghanistan

18-year-old Afghan music artiste Sonita Alizadeth uses rap music to push back against child marriage, including her own. When she was told that she would be married off as a teenage bride to a man she had never met, she wrote the song “Brides for Sale.” The song’s lyrics include: “Let me whisper, so no one hears that I speak of selling girls. My voice shouldn’t be heard since it’s against Sharia.” Sonita’s music video for the song features her wearing a wedding dress… and a barcode on her forehead as she pleads with her family not sell her off. Her parents loved the video and called off the wedding. Today, she uses her music to help other girls in danger of being sold off for marriage and to continue pushing against the tradition of child brides.

Female Role Model 14: Tania Rashid – Bangladesh and United States of America

Tania Rashid_croppedJournalist Tania Rashid has tackled the issue of violence against women through a story on gang rape in Bangladesh (which she had to pitch repeatedly for almost a year before it was accepted by Vice News), followed by her latest documentary production with Vice News, “Sex, Slavery, and Drugs in Bangladesh,“ gives appalling insight the daily happenings of Daulita which is the largest Bangladeshi brothel and the largest bordello in the world with more than 1,300 sex workers who serve over 3,000 men daily. Born in Saudi Arabia to a Bangladeshi father and Pathan mother before moving to the USA, Rashid was inspired by CNN journalist Christiane Amanpour to become a journalist dedicated to telling human rights stories.

Female Role Model 15: Peninnah Tombo – Kenya

Peninnah Tombo_croppedPenninah Tombo is a female genital mutilation survivor who has been harassed, threatened, and attacked by her tribe because of her dedication to helping Maasai girls escape female genital mutilation, forced early marriage, as well as helping them complete their schooling. In 1992, she founded Nasuru Ntoiye (Let’s Save the Girls) to advance her work. According to Tombo, her activism and advocacy on behalf of women and girls has met with stiff opposition because Masai men do not want their daughters to be educated and to learn they have rights. However, she continues to persevere and told the Los Angeles Times: “We are trying to change our way of living. We are trying to change the boys and girls, so that they can change our community.”

Female Role Model 16: Sima Basnet – Nepal

Sima Basnet - Sanjog Mandhar_CroppedSima Basnet and her friend Sangita Magar were studying at a tution center in Jhochhen, Nepal, when four masked men broke into the center, barged into the room, and splashed acid on them. Today, Sima speaks out against acid attacks. She told The Baltic Review: “I’ve always wanted to become a singer and I will not live in fear.” She adds: “I want some kind of justice, but I will go on with my life no matter what. This is my message to all girls and women out there; don’t give up.”

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Photo credits:

  1. Andréa Medina Rosas – From www.nobelwomensinitiative.org
  2. Charlotte Campbell-Stephen – From “I Will Not Be Silenced” trailer (YouTube)
  3. Chieftainess Mwenda (Sophia Thomas Chibaye) – From www.trust.org
  4. Flavia Carvalho – From ‘This Tattoo Artist is Covering the Scars of Domestic Violence Victims Free of Charge’ (Buzzfeed)
  5. Fraidy Reiss – Courtesy of Fraidy Reiss (www.unchainedatlast.org)
  6. Hadiqa Bashia – From Hadiqa Bashir’s Facebook page
  7. Inkosi Kachindamoto – Courtesy of UN Women
  8. Madeleine Rees – From “Madeleine Rees (cropped)” by Foreign and Commonwealth Office – http://www.flickr.com/photos/foreignoffice/8650982041/in/photostream/. Licensed under OGL via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Madeleine_Rees_(cropped).jpg#/media/File:Madeleine_Rees_(cropped).jpg
  9. Malika Saada Saar – Courtesy of Malika Saada Saar (www.Rights4Girls.org)
  10. Massarat Misbah – From ‘Meet The Woman Changing The Face Of Domestic Violence In Pakistan’ (Women’s Agenda)
  11. Monica Singh – Courtesy of Monica Singh (The Mahendra Singh Foundation)
  12. Muzoon Almellehan – From ‘Meet The Malala of Syria’ (Nina Strochlic/The Daily Beast)
  13. Sonita Alizadeh – From Instagram – @sonitaalizadeh
  14. Tania Rashid – Courtesy of Tania Rashid
  15. Sima Basnet – From ‘Nepalese Attack Survivors: “I Won’t Live In Fear”‘ (Sanjog Manandhar/Baltic-Review.com)
  16. Penninah Tombo – From The Los Angeles Times.

The Pixel Project’s VAW e-News Digest – The “16 For 16″ 2014 Edition

News-Coffee9-150x150Welcome to our 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 the past year.

2014 can be seen as a banner year for progress in the global fight to end violence against women with the movement to end Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) continuing strong momentum in the UK and debuting in the USA, more people than ever (including ‘Harry Potter’ star Emma Watson) speaking out in support of feminism and stopping violence against women, more educational efforts ranging from schools teaching children about what forced marriage is (Australia) and what FGM is (UK), and what looks like an increasingly number of men getting on board the cause via efforts such as UN Women’s #HeForShe campaign and the White Ribbon campaign.

To kick things off, here are 16 of the biggest trending VAW headlines of 2014:

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

Best regards,
The Pixel Project Team


Violence Against Women – General


Domestic Violence


Sexual Assault / Rape


Human / Sex Trafficking


Female Genital Mutilation


Honour Killing and Forced/Child Marriage


Street Harassment


Activism

16 Ways to Educate Individuals and Communities about Sexual Consent

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Valuing a women’s consent over her own body is an integral step towards ending violence against women. This means providing women the power to say “no” to sexual encounters, and for the word “no” to be respected in all situations. Myths depict rape and sexual assault perpetrators as strangers. However, two out of three rapes are committed by a person the victim knows. This occurs because sexual consent is either not understood or not respected.

Education is necessary to ensure everyone involved in a sexual activity is consenting, comfortable, valued and safe. Sexual consent education includes talking about how and when to ask for consent, how to say no, what constitutes consent, and the importance of respecting another person’s decision. Assault laws and consequences for a lack of consent should also be included in sexual consent discussions. These lessons will help end the countless sexual assaults that occur every day.

In this “16 For 16” article, we present 16 innovative ideas for educating children, young adults, and other members of your community about sexual consent.

Written by Rebecca DeLuca


Sexual Consent Education – Tip #1: Team up with local organisations

If you are assuming the responsibility of educating your community about sexual consent for the first time, it will be beneficial to connect with local organisations that focus on sexual consent and violence against women. Many organisations have already developed material and messaging that will help engage your audience and direct you in your educational messages. Speakers, educators, and classes may also be available.

Sexual Consent Education – Tip #2: Conduct appropriate research 
Sexual consent education will fail if the audience misinterprets, forgets, or ignores the message. Conducting research will help you prepare and construct a successful educational campaign and ensure message retention. Research can be done first-hand through interviews and surveys with your target audience. Information can also be found online. For example, Julie S. Lalonde conducted a Twitter survey about teaching male youth about rape culture. The responses – which can be found here – can help craft successful messages and sexual consent curricula.

Sexual Consent Education – Tip #3: Start an online newsletter
An e-newsletter is an easy and inexpensive way to keep your community updated and involved in sexual consent education. Publishing, professional templates and contact maintenance are available free of charge on various platforms such as MailChimp. The e-newsletter, which can be sent daily, weekly or bi-weekly, can include upcoming events, recent stories, educational tips, advice, and questions and answers to ensure your community is always up-to-date.

1361797_52190285Sexual Consent Education – Tip #4: Include consent-based education in school curriculum
Challenging school boards to alter curricula is difficult and education about sexual consent may not be allowed in certain classrooms. However, obtaining consent and respecting the word “no” are skills that can be taught in numerous other environments and to all age groups. For example, using consent-based education to help children negotiate the use of toys will help them develop the mentality necessary to understand sexual consent when they are older.

Sexual Consent Education – Tip #5: Make yourself a visible advocate
Making yourself or your group a visible advocate for sexual consent demonstrates to your community that discussing consent is not embarrassing or taboo. It is also a continuous reminder that you are available for discussions, assistance and advice. Tips for remaining visible include having booths at community events, sharing information about consent through your social media accounts, developing business cards with “Sexual Assault Advocate” listed on them, or speaking at events.

Sexual Consent Education – Tip #6: Create an anonymous question box
Though asking questions about consent is nothing to be embarrassed about, some people will feel more comfortable remaining anonymous. Creating an anonymous question box will help ensure more people get the answers they are seeking. You can place the anonymous box in the classroom, at your school, at various events, on community websites, or at your community centre, then either answer the questions via a general FAQ sheet that can be distributed to the community or contact the asker directly to answer his/her question.

Sexual Consent Education – Tip #7: Skits
Theatrical skits and performances are a creative, non-threatening way to discuss sexual consent. Scripts can be developed to discuss topics that affect your audience most, such as having sex for the first time, going away to college, or talking to teenage children about consent. While writing the script, acknowledge crucial moments in the plot to survey your audience on ways they would act. You can then discuss the correct and incorrect ways to proceed.

Kids_croppedSexual Consent Education – Tip #8: Introduce youth to other youth programmes

Research suggests people are more likely to retain and listen to messages if the sender is similar to them and faces similar concerns. Thus, an important strategy to educate youth in your community about sexual consent is through peer education. This may include introducing youth-developed campaigns such as The Girl Code Movement, Party with Consent, or Campaign4Consent to your community to show teenagers how their peers are getting involved. Other tools include peer groups and guest youth speakers.

Sexual Consent Education – Tip #9: Partner with bars, clubs and other local events to remind youth about consent
Reinforcing your messages about consent is integral, especially in high-risk situations. By identifying and partnering with organisations that have high-risk environments, you can help youth remember the importance of consent when you are absent. Partnerships with local bars, clubs and other events can include washroom poster campaigns, door stamps or wristbands easily-remembered reminders about consent on them.

Sexual Consent Education – Tip #10: Monitor the media
Media can be consumed anywhere: on television, radio, social networks, and through messaging and face-to-face interaction. As a result, youth are consuming more media, quicker than before. Monitoring the news and other popular culture makes you proactive in spotting news stories and headlines that are teachable moments for helping children and other young people understand what they see and hear, and answer important questions they may have. Conversation starters can include “The [event here] that happened yesterday scared me. What did you feel?” or “Why do you think [he/she/they] acted that way? What would you have done?”

Sexual Consent Education – Tip #11: Hold bystander intervention events
Bystander research states people will make judgements about their behaviour based on the reactions they receive from the people around them. Through proper bystander intervention education and training, bystanders learn how to prevent and ease potentially violent environments and become confident enough to intervene in various situations. Bystander intervention events are integral for both youth and adults, and can be held in school, as part of after-school activities, or as a prerequisite for team sports and other community groups.

Sexual Consent Education – Tip #12: Create and distribute visual content
Discussing consent should not be boring, overpowering or embarrassing. While facts, statistics and research are useful, they can often be overwhelming. To encourage youth understanding, use visuals. These can include bumper stickers, bracelets, or “What is Consent” pocket cards. Valentine’s day cards, for example, circulate messages about consent in an nonthreatening, creative way.

Sexual Consent Education – Tip #13: Develop safety slogans
Slogans increase retention and recognition for brands. However, they are not exclusive to advertising and marketing. Developing and utilising  slogans in your sexual consent education will help individuals recall information about consent. As slogans are easier to remember than facts and statistics, they will remind community members to make safe, smart decisions. Some examples of consent slogans are: “Yes means yes,” “consent is sexy,” and “a dress is not a yes.”

Sexual Consent Education – Tip #14: Introduce youth to available technology.
As mobile phone usage increases, young people can carry and access sexual consent information in their pockets. Developers have designed applications that emphasise the importance of consent, provide communication advice, answer anonymous questions and more. After researching mobile applications that are appropriate for your audience, location and goals, share them with your community. Or, if you cannot find an application that meets your unique needs, develop one with the help of your community.

1087539_11462380Sexual Consent Education – Tip #15: Start a Popular Culture Club.
Popular music, books, television and movies can help reinforce lessons about sexual consent by providing springboards for discussion. Through the sharing of books, movies and other media, a popular culture club allows community members to consume consent-positive media. The club, which can be developed online or in person, should also include a discussion section for members to share thoughts, insights and lessons learned with others.

Sexual Consent Education – Tip #16: Encourage community event participation. Encouraging participation in events that other organisations hold not only reinforces your messages, but also provides another outlet for engaged community members to support. Contact local organisations, look on your community’s event calendar, or connect with non-profits on social media to find upcoming events you can participate it in as a community.

Transforming Personal Pain Into Positive Action: The Pixel Project’s 16 Female Role Models 2014

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Today is the first day of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence 2014 campaign and The Pixel Project is kicking things off with our 5th 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 18 countries and 4 continents.

Many of these astounding women 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, to 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 instead. Indeed, we are very happy to note that the extraordinary girls’ education activist, Malala Yousafzai, who was one of our Female Role Models of 2012 has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize this year. Well done, Malala!

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 2014 list of 16 female role models. Sadly, two of the role models on this year’s list (Angelica Bello and Efuo Dorkenoo) have respectively died in 2013 and 2014. Few people outside the anti-Violence Against Women movement may have heard of them and we hope that the general public will learn something about their extraordinary life’s work via this list. We hope that they and the rest of the women here will 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.

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 as well. Please do click through to learn more about these remarkable women.

– Regina Yau, Founder and President, The Pixel Project

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Female Role Model 1: Angelica Bello – Colombia

Angelica Bello_CroppedAngelica Bello founded the National Foundation for the Defence of Women’s Human Rights (Fundación Nacional Defensora de los Derechos Humanos de la Mujer, FUNDHEFEM) to protect women survivors of sexual violence in Colombia’s long-running armed conflict. In 2013, she participated as a spokesperson of survivors of conflict-related sexual violence in a meeting with President Santos to push for women’s voices to be heard in the debate about the ‘Victims and Land Restitution Law,’ which is designed to ensure land misappropriated during the conflict is returned to its rightful owners and to provide reparation to victims. She asked the President to implement measures to provide psychosocial support to victims, including survivors of sexual violence. Bello died under suspicious circumstances in late 2013 after enduring years of violent retaliation for her work.

Female Role Model 2: Anita Sarkeesian – Canada and the United States of America

Anita Sarkeesian_croppedAnita Sarkeesian is the pop-culture media critic who made headlines when she launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to support her production of a video Web series called Tropes vs Women in Video Games, which explores female stereotypes in the gaming industry. Her feminist critique of the gaming industry has garnered an ongoing vitriolic online backlash, including threats of death, sexual assault and rape, most recently escalating to hounding her out of her home and forcing her to cancel an event at Utah State University due to the threat of a mass gun massacre. Undaunted, Sarkeesian says: “I feel like the work I’m doing is really important […] the actual change that I am starting to see, the really sweet messages that I get from people about how they were resistant to identify as feminist, but then they watched my videos […] the parents who use it as an educational tool for their kids…all of this is really inspiring to me.”

Female Role Model 3: Dianna Nammi – Iran  and United Kingdom

diana-nammi-tempDiana Nammi started the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation (IKWRO) in her home in 2002 to provide advice and counselling for women from Middle Eastern, North African and Afghan communities in the UK. Since its founding in 1996, IKWRO has grown into a 16-staff organisation that takes thousands of phone calls and helped 780 women face-to-face in 2013. Nammi is a former Peshmerga fighter who has been fighting for women’s rights since she was a teenager growing up in Iran. Since moving to the UK in 1996, she has been instrumental in the campaign to bring honour killers to justice in British courts as well as striving to get forced marriages banned in the country.

Female Role Model 4: Efuo Dorkenoo – Ghana and the United Kingdom

Efua DorkenooEfua Dorkenoo, affectionately known as “Mama Efua”, is a Ghanaian campaigner who fought against the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) for decades. When she was a nurse and midwife-in-training in the 1960s in England, she encountered a woman in labour who had undergone FGM. The woman was so badly scarred that she was unable to deliver her baby through natural childbirth. Due to that encounter, Ms. Dorkenoo became a public health specialist and dedicated the rest of her life to educating the public about the effects of FGM and to ending its practice. Dorkenoo died from cancer in October 2014, leaving a lasting legacy of anti-FGM work.

Female Role Model 5: Emma Sulkowicz – United States of America

Emma Sulkowicz_CroppedEmma Sulkowicz is the Columbia University senior and visual arts major who has committed herself to toting around a mattress until the school expels the fellow student who raped her or he leaves on his own. Sulkowicz started doing this in August 2014 to make a statement about campus sexual assault when Columbia University allowed her rapist to stay on campus. Sulkowicz has made her unusual campaign the basis of her senior thesis – “Carry That Weight” is part protest, part performance art, and has helped rejuvenate the nationwide conversation about campus sexual assault. On 29 October 2014, the first #CarryYourWeight Day was launched in the U.S. and college students and anti-Violence Against Women activists carried mattresses and pillows everywhere to signify their solidarity with victims of rape and sexual assault.

Female Role Model 6: Ikram Ben Said – Tunisia

Tunis, Tunisia.2014 August 18th Ikram Ben Said, 33 year old activist, portrait in her home nest to a poster of Martin Luther King. Francesco Zizola ?NOOR for TIMEWhen Ikram Ben Said took part in the Arab Spring’s first uprising in 2011, she knew that it was the beginning of the struggle for women’s rights in Tunisia. So she created Aswat Nissa (Voices of Women) –  the first women’s rights organisation in Tunisia to involve Tunisian women politicians regardless of where they fall of the political spectrum. “Laws can change the mentality,” says Ben Said. “So we have to work with politicians.”  Through Aswat Nissa’s campaigns and activities, Ben Said has worked to encourage more women to vote, train women politicians about governance, push back against laws that discriminate against women, and to educate communities that “you can be Muslim and advocate for women’s equality. It’s not against Islam.”

Female Role Model 7: Khadijah Gbla – Sierra Leone and Australia

Khadijah Gbla_croppedAnti-Violence Against Women activist Khadijah Gbla is a survivor: she endured female genital mutilation (FGM) at age 10, survived civil war in Sierra Leone, witnessed the murder of her father at 13, spent three years with her mother and younger sister in a Gambian refugee camp, and endured domestic violence from a man just 3 years her senior. Since migrating to Australia, she has channelled what she learned from her horrific experiences into positive education and support for other women. She has campaigned against FGM, started Khadija Gbla Consulting: a motivational speaking, cross-cultural training and consulting firm and also launched Chocolate Sisters – a series of workshops for young which will address issues such as body image, domestic violence and FGM.

Female Role Model 8: Laxmi – India

Laxmi - Stop Acid Attacks Website_croppedWhen Laxmi was 16, an angry suitor threw acid on her face while she waited at a bus stop in New Delhi’s busy Khan Market, disfiguring her permanently. Her attacker deliberately used the acid to destroy Laxmi’s face after she refused to respond to his advances. Instead of hiding herself in shame, Laxmi became the standard-bearer in India for the movement to end acid attacks. She campaigned on national television, and gathered 27,000 signatures for a petition to curb acid sales. Her petition led the Supreme Court to order the Indian central and state governments to immediately regulate the sale of acid, and the Parliament to make prosecutions of acid attacks easier to pursue.

Female Role Model 9: Dr. Maha Al-Muneef – Saudi Arabia

Dr Maha Al-Muneef_croppedDr. Maha Al-Muneef is a dedicated public advocate for survivors of domestic and sexual violence in Saudi Arabia. She founded the National Family Safety Programme in 2005 to combat domestic violence in Saudi Arabia, where activists have been campaigning for an end to the “absolute authority” of male guardians. She is an advisor to the Shura Council in Saudi Arabia. As a physician, she has worked with hospitals to change protocols for victims of rape and abuse, helped to create new police procedures for handling cases and develop special training programmes for medical personnel and law enforcement.

Female Role Model 10: Malalai Joya – Afghanistan

Malalai JoyaMalalai Joya earned her reputation as the “bravest woman in Afghanistan” when she, as an elected delegate to the Loya Jirga (an assembly to debate the proposed Afghan constitution), stood up and publicly criticised the room full of male politicians for allowing fundamentalist warlords too much power. Later, a mob gathered where she was staying, threatening to rape and murder her. She won a landslide victory when she ran for parliament in 2005, the youngest person to be elected, only to be kicked out after she compared the house to a “stable or zoo” in a TV interview. She says: “The situation for women is as catastrophic today as it was before. In most provinces, women’s lives are hell. Forced marriages, child brides and domestic violence are very common. Self-immolations are at a peak.”

Female Role Model 11: Manisha Mohan – India

Manisha Mohan_CroppedThe horrific gang-rape and murder of Jyoti Singh Pandey in New Delhi in 2012 was a tipping point for 22-year-old engineering student Manisha Mohan, who decided to put her engineering studies to practical use by inventing an unusual new anti-rape defense system for women in India – an electric bra called Society Harnessing Equipment (SHE). The bra contains a pressure sensor connected to an electric circuit that can generate a 3,800 kilo-volt shock, which is severe enough to burn a potential rapist. The moment its pressure sensors get activated, a built-in GPS also alerts the police. The pressure sensor has been calibrated for squeeze, pinch and grab; the force applied in a simple hug does not activate the device. There is also a switch so the woman can activate the system herself when in a dangerous location.

Female Role Model 12: Marie Claire Faray – Democratic Republic of Congo

Marie Claire Faray_croppedMarie Claire Faray is an activist from the Democratic Republic of Congo who campaigns to end violence against women, especially in her home country. As a member of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, she continues to work and advocate to get women from all backgrounds to hold their government to account for women’s rights and to have their ideas and opinions heard and accounted for. She said: “[U]ltimately, in 2020, we want to look back and say “we have at least achieved this in this country” — for example “in the Democratic Republic of Congo, we have achieved more women in parliament, the end of violence against women, the end of sexual violence.”

Female Role Model 13: Mussurut Zia – United Kingdom

Mussurut ZiaMussurut Zia started getting involved in anti-violence against women work when she developed a project for disadvantaged women and children. She said: “These people were suffering sexual and domestic abuse. So I started to look at empowerment. It needed more than empowering people to leave their circumstances. They had to be able to survive on their own and believe that they didn’t have to sit there and take it. No matter what culture you come from abuse is wrong.” In 2007, she set up a community organisation, Practical Solutions, which raises awareness of forced marriage, honour-based violence and much more. As a director of the Muslim Women’s Network UK, Mussurut was recently asked to provide insight into the subject of Jihadi brides. Her next project is to go into schools to talk to children about the laws related to marriage and where to go if they find themselves in a forced situation.

Female Role Model 14: Pragna Patel – United Kingdom

Pragna Patel_CroppedPragna Patel is the Director and founding member of Southall Black Sisters (SBS), a landmark organisation in the history of black and Asian feminism in the UK. For over thirty years, SBS has been at the forefront of violence against women of colour in Southall and nationwide. They provide general and specialist advice to black and minority women on gender-related issues such as domestic violence, sexual violence, forced marriage, honour killings and their intersection with the criminal justice, immigration and asylum systems, health, welfare rights, homelessness and poverty.

Female Role Model 15: Rosi Oroczo – Mexico

Rosi Oroczo_CroppedAnti-slavery activist Rosi Oroczo, president of the nongovernmental Commission United Against Human Trafficking and a member of the 61st legislature, is the driving force in overcoming strong resistance and winning passage in 2012 of a tough new law to combat human trafficking throughout Mexico. Passed on June 14, 2012, it brings all Mexican states under the same extensive measures for prevention and punishment of trafficking. It grants increased powers for police and judges, granting anonymity and protection for victims, while providing new funding for rehabilitation projects involving them. Orozco believes the answer to end human trafficking  “begins with individuals caring about other people, noticing what’s going on in their neighborhoods and being willing to face up to traffickers and drive them out. We all have to refuse to tolerate this crime against humanity any longer.”

Female Role Model 16: Safia Abdi Haase – Somalia and Norway

Safia Abdi Haase_CroppedSomali-born Safia Abdi Haase is the first immigrant woman to receive Norway’s prestigious order of St. Olav for her work with women and children. She said her campaigning was based on her experiences of domestic abuse, female genital mutilation (FGM), forced marriage, domestic violence and sex trafficking. “I had to use my own body so that I could come out of Africa to come to Europe to give my three daughters life without violence,” she said. Ms. Haase had no formal education when she arrived in Norway. She put herself through primary and secondary schools, eventually obtaining a university degree in nursing. She has helped formulate the Norwegian government’s action plan against FGM and is regarded as an ambassador in the drive to combat violence against women.

16 Ways You Can Support a Survivor of Violence Against Women

Friends SupportViolence Against Women (VAW) almost always takes the form of interpersonal violence, such as sexual assault/abuse and domestic physical abuse, which continues to have great stigma and denial in our society.  This denial of the reality of abuse and violence that pervades our communities results in ignorance of how to support a survivor.  We have so many ways to support people with medical problems, people who are in accidents, and people with mental health and now substance abuse problems, yet we continue to disregard survivors of violence and their needs toward support and healing.

Supporting a survivor of violence requires intentional thought and behaviour toward recognising what the survivor needs at any given moment during their recovery.  And the response to survivors is often very different than responses we may give to other events or issues in a person’s life.

To help you get started, we have compiled 16 ways to help support a survivor.

Introduction by Carol Olson, List compiled by Jennifer Gallienne and Jodi Layne, Edited by Carol Olson and Jerica Nonell

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How you can support a survivor #1:  Listen. One of the primary things a survivor of violence needs is for you to just sit and listen sincerely. Listen without judging and listen without fixating over what you are going to say next. Listen without freaking out over the accounting of the events of violence and abuse.  Just listen to what they have to say and allow them to be truly heard. Most people who did not report their assaults decided not to because they “thought it was not important enough” or that “no one would want to hear about it.”  Listen and let your friend know that both they and what they went through are important.

How you can support a survivor #2: Believe. Another primary thing a survivor needs is to be believed.  Do not question their version of events or if what happened to them was a “legitimate” sexual assault. Tell them directly: “I believe you.” A lot of people never report their assault because they are afraid that no one will believe them. Many survivors will have to spend their whole lives trying to convince authorities that what happened to them was real: from the police (should your friend choose to report the incident), to the court (if the case ever even gets there), and to the media (and the way it handles rape and rape victims).  They will have their account of the assault repeatedly challenged and de-legitimized throughout their life, so please offer unconditional support.

How you can support a survivor #3: Ask how you can help. Sometimes we may feel like we know what to do in this situation or may want to immediately seek help for the victim. We must remember that this is not about us and it is more useful to ask “Is there anything you need from me right now?” instead of taking control of the situation. It is important to remember to go at the victim’s pace and what they are comfortable in doing.

How you can support a survivor #4: No coulda, shoulda, woulda. The fact is that sexual assault happens because people do it, not because of the length of a dress, the time of day they were out, or how much they were drinking. Do not offer your friend suggestions on how they could have prevented being assaulted – the chances are that they have already replayed their assault in their head and wondered what they could have done differently. The reality is that the person who assaulted them should never have done it in the first place.  It is never the victim’s fault that someone assaulted them.

How you can support a survivor #5: Respect Boundaries. If they ask you not to say anything and to just listen: just listen. If they ask for a hug or other reassuring touch: offer it if you feel comfortable and do not touch them in any way unless asked or permitted. Do not try and help or offer suggestions if they do not want any. React in the way they ask you to. Do not tell others about the assault if they have confided in you. Do not report their assault to law enforcement or officials without their consent. Remember that victims of violence have had their boundaries violently abused by the offender and will need people to respect them.

Holding HandHow you can support a survivor #6: Empower!
Put them in control of their own healing while being supportive. Never put pressure on your friend to pursue these options or react in a certain way. Give them the tools to decide how to move forward and don’t judge their decisions. Being a survivor of sexual violence means they are usually dealing with a loss of power, so do all that you can to help them restore their autonomy.

How you can support a survivor #7: Provide resources.
If you know someone that has been a victim of sexual assault give them resources. Let them know that there is professional help available. If they are not ready to go to a local center, they can use a hotline, such as the National Assault Hotline 1.800.656.HOPE and the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline.

How you can support a survivor #8: Accompany the Survivor to Get Help. If they decide to move forward with seeking help and healing, offer to drive them and/or accompany them (with their permission) to any or all of the agencies that will provide them with help, such as the hospital for a medical and/or forensic exam, to the sexual assault center for legal advocacy and support, and/or to the counselor for therapy.  You may not be able to sit in their counseling session but ask the advocate/counselor if you could be present with them through the initial steps.  Some counselors will work with family, partners, and friends to help educate them and engage them in supporting the survivor.

How you can support a survivor #9: Combat victim blaming and rape culture. Ever heard someone make a rape joke? Every heard someone blame a victim of rape because of what they were wearing or where they were? Ever heard someone use the word rape to describe beating a video game? Ever heard someone say she really wanted it or state that no means they are just playing hard to get? Challenge and confront these when they happen!  If it is your friend or relative saying these things, do not worry about hurting their feelings; let them know how this hurts survivors. Look for these teachable moments and educate them on why what they are saying is hurtful and perpetuating violence against women.

How your can support a survivor #10: Confront Harmful Language
Sexual assault has nothing to do with what the victim was wearing and harmful language used to describe women objectify them. Take the time to educate your community, family, and friends about how harmful this language is. The next time you hear someone say that the victim should have been dressed differently, confront that directly.

How to support a survivor #11: Debunk the myth of alcohol/medication or other substances. Many people have heard victim blaming language when it comes to a victim drinking alcohol, taking sleeping pills, or using other substances before their assault.  Just because a person had something to drink or took medication does not mean the person asked for the assault to happen and nor is to blame for it.  Let them know that just because they had alcohol or other substances does not mean they deserved the assault to happen.

sexual assault prev tipsHow to support a survivor #12: Hold Abusers Accountable for their Actions. Do not let abusers make excuses, such as blaming the victim for alcohol, drugs, behaviour, or clothing. Our culture and media spends a lot of time blaming the victim but never blames the person who committed the crime. Shift the blame back on to the abuser, where it belongs, and away from the victim.

How to support a survivor #13: Volunteer! Many domestic violence/sexual assault centres have wonderful volunteer opportunities and programmes available. Many of these agencies rely on dedicated volunteers to respond to sexual assault calls. These agencies do a wonderful job at training interested volunteers as well as offering them support along the way. Go online and search for these centres in your community to find the nearest volunteer opportunity.

How to support a survivor #14: Attend a Community Event. One of the ways you can support rape survivors and show your support is attend a community event that is bringing awareness to sexual assault and offering support. There are many events like Take Back the Night that happen on college campuses around the world and various events that happen during April for Sexual Assault Awareness Month. This is a good way to show your support for the community of survivors living in your city and is a good way to get education on the issue.

How to support a survivor #15: Have Conversations with Men in Your Life. Because victim blaming will not prevent rape, what needs to change is the conversations that we are having with men about all of these issues. Educating on consent and sending messages to men to be accountable for their actions and behaviour is more effective because it shifts the focus onto them and clears away any misunderstandings that may not come out otherwise. Men need to realize the responsibility to prevent rape is on them and not the people getting raped. We need to have more conversations with men and boys about healthy relationships and consensual sex.

How to support a survivor #16: Take Care of Yourself. Sexual assault is more common and has more manifestations than we let ourselves believe or acknowledge within our society. If you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault, the disclosure of another friend may bring up uncomfortable feelings or reawaken trauma.  Make sure you get the support you need to be a good ally to your friend and to keep your own mental and emotional health in check.

Pixel Project Selection 2013 – 16 Striking Anti-Violence Campaigns for the Cause to End Violence Against Women

Give Peace a ChanceIn this age of global interconnection through social networking and digital media, cause-focused campaigns have become powerful tools to raise awareness, educate the public, and bring millions of people together to effect change.  Even with campaigns developed to be “on the ground,” they are marketed, tweeted, blogged, posted, liked, linked and shared to such an extent it can create tidal waves of movement and change.

Yet despite this movement, this global sharing, this reaching of virtual hands around the world and within communities, many activists still face considerable obstacles to ending violence against women (VAW).  We still face: denial that violence against women exists or is an important issue; cultural taboos that prevent open and honest discussion; viewpoints that VAW is a “women’s issue instead of a human issue;” and hostility from men’s rights activists and extremists who seek to keep women “in their place.”

So today, in honour of all VAW activists, nonprofits, and grassroots groups that toil in such thankless situations to bring about positive change to the lives of women and girls facing violence; we present 16 of the most striking campaigns/programmes we have come across in the last year of our work, in no particular order. That many of them include men is an encouraging sign that the issue of VAW is becoming a human rights issue, not just a women’s issue.

What these campaigns have in common are:

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

This year’s selection includes campaigns from 11 countries and take a wide variety of actions ranging from creating statement quilts to setting up a hairstylist training academy. We hope that these campaigns and initiatives inspire you to take action and get on board the cause to end VAW.

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

Introduction by Regina Yau; Research and summaries by Jennifer Gallienne; Edited by Carol Olson and Regina Yau

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Creative VAW Campaign 1: Survivor’s Monument Quilt – USA

In February 2013, FORCE gained attention for a temporary monument in the National Mall’s reflective pool, which was a giant poem reading, “I Can’t Forget What Happened But No One Else Remembers.”

The Monument Project is a call to create a national monument to survivors of rape and abuse. In summer of 2014, FORCE will blanket the mall with a GIANT quilt made of survivors’ stories. The crowd-sourced quilt will also double as a picnic blanket, inviting the public to sit, eat, and talk. An online version of the Monument Quilt also exists and is a public platform where experiences of survivors can be shared, respected, and honored. Survivors can submit their stories at themonumentproject.org

Creative VAW Campaign 2: UN Women’s Freedom from Violence Photo Competition – Global 

Through the two-month long photo competition that ran from 9 December 2012 to 10 February 2013, UN Women encouraged young people to show the world what freedom from violence against women meant to them. As part of the UN Secretary General’s Say NO – UNiTE to End Violence against Women and Girls campaign, millions were encouraged to discuss and prevent violence against women through social media and on ground activation. “The photo competition has achieved its objective of building a mass momentum among the online community and awakened them to the ground realities on situation of women in the society. It has also given them pointers on what needs to be done,” said Yogesh Jadhav, a top 10 runner up.

powerful-ads-use-real-google-searches-to-show-L-xR8BtECreative VAW Campaign 3: Powerful Ads Use Real Google Searches to Show the Scope – Global

A series of ads, developed as a creative idea for UN Women by Memac Ogilvy & Mather Dubai, uses genuine Google searches to reveal the widespread prevalence of sexism and discrimination against women. Based on searches dated 9 March, 2013, the ads expose negative sentiments ranging from stereotyping to outright denial of women’s rights. “When we came across these searches, we were shocked by how negative they were and decided we had to do something with them,” says Christopher Hunt, Art Director of the creative team. The idea developed places the text of the Google searches over the mouths of women portraits, as if to silence their voices.

Creative VAW Campaign 4: Tackling Violence Against Women with a Neighbourhood Watch Groups and a Hair Salon – Guatemala

In the past decade, nearly 5,000 women and young girls have been murdered and sexually assaulted in Guatemala. In Bárcenas, there are no street lights or reliable police protection. In response to the murders, the Women Workers’ Committee has created neighborhood watch groups. MADRE is providing the group with flashlights and whistles to distribute to women as an additional safety measure. MADRE and the Women Workers Committee will also build a hair salon in Bárcenas. Here, women can find a way to escape violence and poverty. The hair salon will provide job training in hair styling and help with job placement. It will also provide training in domestic violence intervention strategies, allowing newly-trained hair stylists to become counselors for their clients.

download (1)Creative VAW Campaign 5: Stop Telling Women to Smile Project Tackles Street Harassment with Art – USA 

Stop Telling Women to Smile is an art series by Tatyana Fazlalizadeh. The work addresses gender-based street harassment by placing drawn portraits of women, composed with captions that speak directly to offenders, outside in public spaces. The drawn portraits, which Fazlalizadeh designed to be plastered on public walls, include captions that are intended to speak directly to offenders of street harassment.

Creative VAW Campaign 6: Women’s initiative launches We Will Ride Bicycles campaign – Egypt

An Egyptian women’s initiative has launched a campaign entitled “We Will Ride Bicycles” to confront sexual harassment in the streets and public transportation. The activists behind the campaign said they chose the theme of riding bicycles to promote women and girls’ rights to run errands through cycling without being afraid of attracting negative reaction in the streets.

Creative VAW Campaign 7: Hackathon find IT based solutions aimed at preventing and reporting violence against women- Nepal and South Asia  

In response to the brutal Delhi Gang Rape, the World Bank joined forces with a Nepalese firm, Young Innovations, and the Computer Association of Nepal to host a Hackathon in Nepal on June 16 to find IT-based solutions. Over 100 youth joined the one-day session to design innovative applications aimed at preventing and reporting violence against women.

Creative VAW Campaign 8 – “Don’t Be That Guy” Campaign – Canada

Sexual Assault Voices of Calgary (SAV Calgary) re-launched the ‘Don’t Be That Guy’ campaign in April 2013 with new posters, which focus on the offenders of sexual assault, rather than the victims. The posters, aimed at males between 18 and 25, have a simple message: Sex without consent is sexual assault. Police also trained front-line bar staff to identify people who may prey upon women vulnerable to alcohol and drugs, and officers assigned in Vancouver’s entertainment district were told to focus on predatory males who may be targeting intoxicated women. The campaign, first conceived by Sexual Assault Victims of Edmonton (SAVE) in 2010, stresses that the offender is responsible for changing their behaviours. The previous campaign reduced sexual assaults by 10%.
The No More Abuse campaign hopes to help those who are enduring abuse in silence. (Photo: King Khalid Foundation)

Photo: King Khalid Foundation

Creative VAW Campaign 9: No More Abuse Poster Campaign- Saudi Arabia 

Saudi Arabia has launched its first major campaign against  domestic violence . The ads in the “No More Abuse” campaign show a woman in a dark veil with one black eye. The English version reads “some things can’t be covered.” The Arabic version, according to Foreign Policy’s David Kenner, translates roughly as “the tip of the iceberg.” A Web site for the campaign includes a report on reducing domestic violence and emergency resources for victims.

Creative VAW Campaign 10: Silence Is Not Golden Media Campaign- Croatia

Open Media Group in Croatia created, developed, and implemented a media campaign bringing awareness to violence against women. The media campaign consisted of four TV clips on the subjects of domestic violence, date rape, and trafficking, while the fourth TV clip shows that all three have the same root and are gender-based. The slogan of the campaign is “Silence is not gold” (as opposed to proverb “silence is gold”) and the TV clips were broadcasted on Croatian Television and RTL Croatia. Both televisions provided free media time, and, in eight months, the campaign lasted the value of broadcasting time is over approx. 2,3 mil. EUR. For this campaign OMG was awarded by ERSTE foundation (in Vienna) for the best European campaign.

CREDIT: 7000 IN SOLIDARITY

CREDIT: 7000 IN SOLIDARITY

Creative VAW Campaign 11: Reclaiming Robin Thicke’s chart topper – USA

UCLA’s student-run sexual assault prevention campaign, 7000 In Solidarity, gets its name from the estimated number of students at the university who will encounter sexual violence. The group encourages students to take a solidarity pledge to promise they’ll practice consent, intervene in situations where they see someone’s else’s consent being violated, and support survivors of sexual violence.To raise awareness about consent among the student body, 7000 In Solidarity created a graphic in response to “Blurred Lines,” Robin Thicke’s popular pop song that has sparked criticism for promoting rape culture.

Creative VAW Campaign 12: YES! Yes Equals Sex, anything else is rape – Ireland

YES! is a positive media campaign aiming to start a conversation on sexual consent. YES! works to get young people practising safe and consensual sex with good communication and respect.  YES! collaborates work with Student’s Unions and other groups to establish locally-focused, individually-tailored campaigns to encourage consent culture and empower young people to stop rape and sexual assault.

Creative VAW Campaign 13: Spoons for Stopping Forced Marriages – United Kingdom

Karma Nirvana, a charity which runs a helpline for victims of forced marriages, has been encouraging teenage South Asian girls who fear they are being taken abroad to enter into a forced marriage to hide a spoon or any other metal object in their underwear to set off the metal detector at the airport and avoid the flight at the last minute. Karma Nirvana founder, Jasvinder Sanghera, said, “When they go through security, it will highlight this object in a private area and, if 16 or over, they will be taken to a safe space where they have that one last opportunity to disclose they’re being forced to marry. We’ve had people ring and say that it’s helped them and got them out of a dangerous situation. It’s an incredibly difficult thing to do with your family around you – but they won’t be aware you have done it. It’s a safe way.”

Creative VAW Campaign 14: Noor: Shedding Light on Women’s Security Concerns – Libya 

The Voice of Libyan Women launched Noor: Shedding Light on Women’s Security Concerns in Libya. They utilised social media with #NoorLibya when the campaign launched on Friday, 5th of July (see press release). They deliberately chose the holy day of Friday, only days before the holy month of Ramadan, to launch the campaign, as it is a time which they believe the message is strengthened. In the Fall, they began seminars aimed at addressing women’s security issues throughout Libyan workplaces, schools, universities, and mosques, targeting audiences of both men and women, young and old.

Optimized-Andrew-e1369819511180Creative VAW Campaign 15: AWARE’s ‘We Can!’ campaign – Singapore

We Can! is a global campaign that has touched over 3.9 million individuals worldwide who have pledged not to commit or tolerate violence against women. Singapore is the 16th country to join the movement.

We Can! Singapore took off at the beginning of 2013. With the tagline ‘Change starts with me’, the campaign hopes to mobilise over 1,000 individual ‘Change Makers’ – ambassadors of gender equality and non-violence – through art, performance, sports, community networks, and new media.

Creative VAW Campaign 16: Campaign forces Facebook to stop rape, sex abuse posts, and more- Global

In May 2013, Women, Action & the Media, the Everyday Sexism Project and feminist author/activist Soraya Chemaly launched a campaign to call on Facebook to take concrete, effective action to end gender-based hate speech on its site. Since then, participants have sent over 60,000 tweets and 5,000 emails. Over 100 women’s movement and social justice organisations (including The Pixel Project) signed an open letter to Facebook and the organisers encouraged users of Facebook to send messages to its advertisers encouraging them to boycott Facebook until it addressed these concerns. Over seven days, men and women around the world sent more than 60,000 tweets using the hashtag #FBrape, and 5,000 e-mails to targeted advertisers, 16 of whom withdrew their advertising. Facebook has since pledged to evaluate and update policies, guidelines, and practices relating to speech and pictures that perpetuate violence against women and girls.

The Pixel Project Selection 2012: 16 Resources About Wartime Violence Against Women

Twelve years ago, The UN Security Council enacted resolution 1325 on women, peace and security.  This resolution is designed to put a global spotlight on the role of women in armed conflict, calling for recognition that women are as much a part of international peace as other genders.  It also highlighted the disproportionate impact of war and armed conflict on women.

Still today, millions of women around the world continue to be impacted by and bear a brunt of armed conflicts and wars.  Women continue to be targeted for sexual violence and other interpersonal violence.  As families are often separated during conflicts and wars, women are then particularly vulnerable to interpersonal violence and rape.  Concurrent with violence is lack of access to food, water, healthcare, and shelter.

Sexual Violence is a war crime, and while progress has moved forward incrementally, much progress is yet to be made.   International humanitarian law as enforced through the Geneva Conventions provides for the protection of women in wartime, including armed conflicts.   However, while States have ratified the Geneva Conventions, not all governments ensure that the law is implemented or enforced.   Violators may not equally face punishment, if any punishment is made. Continue reading

Transforming Personal Pain Into Positive Action: The Pixel Project’s 16 Female Role Models 2012

Today is the first day of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence 2012 campaign and The Pixel Project is kicking things off with our 3rd 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 14 countries and 4 continents.

Many of these astounding women 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 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. Continue reading