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

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

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

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

Written and compiled by Anushia Kandasivam


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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


Photo credits:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Practice #1 – “Ladies Night!”

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

Practice #2 – Victim blaming (Among Peers)

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

Practice #3 – Victim blaming (Institutional/Systemic)

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

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

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

Practice #5 – Sexual Scoring

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

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

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

Practice #7 – Non-Consensual Photo/Video Sharing

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

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

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

Practice #9 – The “Friendzone”

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

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

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

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

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

Practice #12 – Control of Access to Alcohol

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

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Practice #13 – Homophobia and Transphobia

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

Practice #14 – “The Perfect Victim

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

Practice #15 – Colluding with Those Who Commit Violence

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

Practice #16 – “Standards”

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

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

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

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

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

Here are the 16 biggest trending VAW headlines of 2016:

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

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

With all good wishes,
The Pixel Project Team


General Violence Against Women


 Domestic Violence


Rape and Sexual Assault


 Human/Sex Trafficking


 Female Genital Mutilation


 Forced Marriage and Honour Killing


Activism

The Pixel Project Selection 2016: 16 films about Violence Against Women

Film-Reel-225x300 (1)This is the fifth year that The Pixel Project has published a list of powerful and thought-provoking films, documentaries and television shows that depict violence against women and girls. Some of these films were made for the sole purpose of information and education while others have entertainment as their primary goal while addressing important themes such as violence, rape culture, the conflict between tradition and societal evolution, and gender equity.

While pop culture has been slowly moving away from sexist and overly sexualised portrayals of women following a trend of more awareness of feminism, there are still those who are pushing back against the change, showing that there is still a long way to go before proper gender equality is achieved.

In this case, film can be an effective medium for disseminating the message that equality is beneficial to all, whether it be the individual, society or economy. The 16 films in this list tell harrowing stories of violence but are also portraits of survivors, supporters and fighters. We hope that they inspire you to join us in our quest to end violence against women and to be a catalyst for change in your own community.

Written and compiled by Anushia Kandasivam

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Selection number 1: A Crime Unpunished: Bangladeshi Gang Rape

In this short documentary, VICE News explores how a deeply ingrained patriarchal culture, traditional practices and religious beliefs come together to create a tacit acceptance by individuals, communities, local leaders and the police of violence against women and girls. In the film, VICE News correspondent Tania Rashid interviews survivors, the police, activists, and even rapists to bring understanding to the phenomenon of pervasive physical and sexual violence against women and girls in Bangladesh. 

Selection number 2: A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness

This film directed by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy documents the story of 18-year-old Pakistani Saba who refused to marry the man picked out for her by her parents. She married for love instead and survived a subsequent attempted honour killing by her father and uncle. Unusual in that it depicts the issue of honour killing from the perspective of a survivor, this documentary is a scathing and eye-opening examination of the traditions that influence the law when it comes to issues of gender-based violence, as well as a look at how societal pressure influences women to ‘forgive’ their assailants.

Selection number 3: Be Relentless

This bilingual (English and Spanish) documentary follows single mother of two and ultramarathoner Norma Bastidas as she sets the record for the longest triathlon ever, swimming, running and biking 6,054km from Cancun, Mexico to Washington DC, USA.  In this triathlon, Bastidas followed a known route of human traffickers to raise awareness about human trafficking, aid child protection projects and raise funds for scholarships for survivors in the USA and Mexico. Be Relentless is also the story of a survivor – as a 19-year-old, Bastidas was deceived into travelling to Japan for a modelling job that did not exist and ended up being sold at an auction. Years after escaping and now with a family of her own, Bastidas decided to use her athleticism for a cause close to her heart.

Be Relentless Trailer from iEmpathize on Vimeo.

Selection number 4: Gulabi Gang

This film follows Sampat Pal Devi, an extraordinary woman who leads the group of Indian women activists called the Gulabi Gang in her native state of Uttar Pradesh in India. The women wear pink saris (gulabi means pink in Hindi); the group was formed as a response to widespread domestic and other forms of violence against women. Sampat herself was married as a young girl and abused by her in-laws. After escaping her situation, she became an advocate for and supporter of women in the same situation, especially lower caste women who do not have a voice in society. Gulabi Gang highlights Sampat’s passion and strength as a leader, showing her unique way of resolving disputes and how she and her team work to empower women to fight against gender violence, caste oppression and corruption. The film sheds light on the plight of rural women who have little or no social power in a society where violence against women is pervasive.

Selection number 5: He Named Me Malala (2015)

This film about Malala Yousafzai, now 19, the young Pakistani peace activist and 2014 recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, reveals the events leading up to her being shot by the Taliban. It depicts her recovery and continuing journey to speak out and work against opposition to the education of girls, especially opposition through violence. While it highlights the reasons behind Malala’s unwavering fight for gender equality, the film is also a portrait of a teenager who is both inspired and inspiring. The film shows her father playing an important role as supporter and a strong male advocate for her cause – he named her after a folk hero – but it also makes clear that Malala’s choices are her own.

Selection number 6: I am Nojoom, Age 10 and Divorced (2014)

This Yemeni drama (Ana Noojoom Bent Alasherah Wamotalagah) tells the story of 10-year-old Nojoom whose father marries her to a 30-year-old man and who asks a judge in Sana’a to grant her a divorce. Based on the autobiography of Nujood Ali, now 18, who was forced into marriage with a much older man when she was nine years old and directed by Yemen’s first female producer Khadija al-Salami (herself a survivor of forced child marriage), this film depicts the struggles of the young protagonist to obtain a divorce in the absence of laws against child marriage. I am Nojoom has received positive reviews from international press and is one of the entries for Best Foreign Language Film at the 89th Academy Awards.

Selection number 7: Jessica Jones

One of several current television series that is based on comics, Jessica Jones stands out for having a female superhero (the eponymous Jones) and for effectively portraying trauma and its psychological effects. The series addresses issues of rape, abuse, coercion, consent and post traumatic stress disorder with realism, with the stories’ noir quality letting the viewer get a visceral feel of the damage that assault can do. The writers have consciously avoided fetishising rape, and the viewer does not see it on screen. While the series does see Jones trying to use her abilities to help others, it also sees her struggle to deal with the aftermath of a sexually and emotionally abusive relationship, a journey that any victim of abuse can identify with.

Selection number 8: Mad Max: Fury Road

This blockbuster has a lot of things going for it, not least the heart pounding action that is phenomenally choreographed and executed. The focal point of this film is its female protagonist who never wavers from her cause and is strong enough to both take care of business by herself and ask for help. With its rallying cry of “We are not things!”, the film sends a clear message that women are not and should not be treated as property. The basic plot of the film revolves around five women escaping sexual slavery aided by another woman, Furiosa. This film has generated a slew of articles and Internet discussions on feminism, rape culture in film – it is interesting to note that though rape is a strong underlying theme in this film, it is never shown – and gender equity in pop culture.

Selection number 9: The Uncondemned

“In every single conflict, if you start asking questions, you will find that sexual violence is used. Why? Because it is an extremely effective tool of conflict.” Though rape was classified as a war crime in 1919, it was only in 1997 when it was first prosecuted by two tribunals attempting to offer justice for war crimes committed during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. This documentary recounts the trial of a former Rwandan politician for his knowledge of the rapes and involvement in other war crimes through the stories of the Rwandan women who came forward to testify and the group of young lawyers and activists who fought to have the systematic and targeted rape perpetrated during the war prosecuted as a war crime by the tribunals.

Selection number 10: Murdered by My Boyfriend

This BBC3 film centres on a little-covered topic – teenage intimate violence. Closely based on real events, it follows bright 17-year-old student Ashley who meets and falls in love with charming and seductive Reece, a young man a little older than her. Ashley’s idealistic dreams of love, marriage, motherhood and her career are slowly torn down by Reece’s increasingly controlling and abusive behaviour, paranoia and violence. The title tells the viewer how it ends, but the BAFTA-winning film still conveys a sense of building tension and tragedy as it portrays the gradations of abuse, such as teasing becoming bullying and love becoming control and how difficult it is for outsiders to understand what goes on in such a relationship.

Selection number 11: Murdered by My Father

The online-only follow-up to 2014 film Murdered by my Boyfriend, this BBC3 docudrama follows the story of 16-year-old British girl Salma who is torn between her father’s conservative values – he wants her to marry the man chosen for her so that he can ‘die happy’ – and her Western life, which includes a secret relationship.  Based on true events, the film examines forced marriage and honour killings among Asian communities in Britain – issues that many are unaware exist in this developed nation. Its portrayal of traditional values in conflict with ‘modern’ living will hit a cord with many viewers.

Selection number 12: North Country

Inspired by real-life events that led to a class action sexual harassment law suit in the United States, this film chronicles the life of Josey Aimes (Charlize Theron) as she returns to her hometown after escaping an abusive husband and starts work at the local mine in the late 1980s. The female employees at the mine endure a constant stream of sexual harassment, intimidation, abusive language and other forms of assault from the male employees while their employer turns a blind eye. Aimes files a lawsuit against the company and eventually persuades her co-workers to join in a class-action suit. This film accurately portrays the ingrained gender bias and misogyny that dogged (and still dogs) the industrial employment sector, and how aversion to change and a pack mentality can lead to violence against the minority party. It also shows how standing up to what is right – in this case, a gender-equal and safe workplace – is fraught with difficulty.

Selection number 13: Palwasha – Rays of the Rising Sun

The first commercial television serial in Afghanistan, Palwasha – Rays of the Rising Sun is a soap opera style series that follows the life of a young woman called Palwasha, a rare female judge in her traditional and religious Afghan community. Created by Indian filmmakers, this Afghan serial uses the dramatic style of Indian soap operas that is incredibly popular in Afghanistan to bring social propaganda into Afghan homes, showing women in powerful leadership positions, addressing issues of domestic violence, and attempting to educate the public that they should trust the official legal system and not resort to serving justice themselves.

Selection number 14: Private Violence

This feature-length documentary seeks to bring awareness to the plague of domestic violence that women in the USA face every day. Told through the eyes of two survivors, one of whom is now an advocate for abused women, this film is takes a look at the intimate partner violence as an entrenched problem in a society that does not truly understand it and is meant to serve as a call for better and more urgent responses to it. The film basically uses the experiences of the two survivors as case studies to explore flaws in police and judicial responses, the obstacles women face when wanting to leave an abuser and misconceptions of domestic abuse.

Selection number 15: Room

This Oscar-nominated film tells the story of a young woman held captive in a small room for seven years and her five-year-old son, how they cope with their captivity, finally gain freedom and learn to live in the outside world. Though the woman, known only as Ma throughout most of the film, was abducted as a teenager and is systematically raped, the film does not show any of this. Told mostly from the perspective of the boy Jack, the film instead focuses on how he and his mother slowly learn to live in the outside world again and deal with their trauma, how other people react to them, and the complex feelings of happiness and grief that they and their family go through.

Selection number 16: What’s the Point?

Part of the At Stake documentary series by Project Change!, What’s the Point takes a close look at the practice of female circumcision in Indonesia. Although different from the practices in African countries – it does not remove the whole clitoris and labia – it is still an invasive and painful procedure that poses serious risks to the girls’ health. It is a widely accepted practice in Indonesia and believed to ‘clean’ the girl and keep evil spirits away from her. The film showcases the beliefs behind the often chaotic rituals of circumcision and the beliefs that inform and propagate this practice.

Watch the full documentary here.

Transforming Personal Pain Into Positive Action: The Pixel Project’s 16 Female Role Models 2016

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Today is the first day of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence 2016 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 16 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 instead to stand up for themselves and for other women and girls.

Others on this list may not have experienced gender-based violence first hand, 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.

Here in alphabetical order by first name is our 2016 list of 16 female role models. We hope that these women are an inspiration to others to get involved in the cause. To that end, we hope you will generously share this list via Facebook and Twitter to give these extraordinary 16 women and their work a moment in the sun.

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

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

Written and compiled by Regina Yau

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Female Role Model 1: Balkissa Chaibou – Niger

balkissa-chaibou_croppedBalkissa Chaibou wanted to become a doctor, but when she was 12 she found out that she had been promised as a bride to her cousin. She fought to get out of the pending marriage by taking her family to court and seeking refuge at a women’s shelter until the bridegroom’s party left. Balkissa is now 19 and she campaigns for other girls to say “no” to forced marriage. She visits schools, speaks to tribal chiefs about the issue, and has also spoken at a UN summit on reducing maternal mortality, which is a health issue linked to early marriage.

Female Role Model 2: Bogaletch Gebre – Ethiopia

bogaletch-gebre_croppedBogaletch Gebre is a victim of female genital mutilation (FGM) who was born in Kembatta, a region in Ethiopia where FGM was endemic and women were largely uneducated. She learned to read by visiting the church school under the pretext of collecting water and eventually received a scholarship to study in the U.S and Israel. She returned to Ethiopia to help better the lives of women and girls and has spent 16 years campaigning for women’s rights in Ethiopia. Through her relentless activism, Gebre has successfully reduced the rate of FGM in some parts of the country from 97% to just 3%.

Female Role Model 3: Clementine Ford – Australia

clementine-ford_croppedMelbourne-based Clementine Ford is an Australian feminist and author who has has written and spoken up fiercely and consistently about male violence against women, first in Adelaide’s Sunday Mail and opinion pieces in the Drum, then in the Fairfax website Daily Life. Her book Fight Like A Girl is part memoir and part polemic – detailing her development as a feminist and addressing the issue of violence against women head on. Ford is seen as a feminist who led “feminism back into the boxing ring” as she fights back against silencing and harassment online by naming and shaming men who verbally attack or threaten her, often replying to them publicly.

Female Role Model 4: Fatou Bensouda – Gambia

fatou-bensouda_croppedAs a high school student, Fatou Bensouda would sneak into nearby courts to watch the proceedings and she noticed that women in particular were not “receiving the protective embrace of the law. For me that is one of the things that informed my decision to say, ‘This is what I want to do.’” Today, Bensouda is the chief prosecutor of the international criminal court (ICC) in the Hague where she works to mete out justice to war criminals and genocidal despots. Her own position as a woman from West Africa has also informed the character of Bensouda’s ICC – she has made it an explicit goal of the court to challenge the rape and exploitation of women and children in war.

Female Role Model 5:  Frida Farrell – Sweden

frida-farrell_croppedWhen she was in her early twenties, Swedish actress Frida Farrell was tricked into attending a fake photoshoot, kidnapped, drugged and sexually trafficked to men in an apartment on London’s upmarket Harley Street. Over a decade after she escaped her abusers, Farrell co-wrote the film Selling Isobel which was based on her harrowing experiences in the hope that her story will stop other women getting into the same situation. She said: “I wanted people watching to know that it could happen to any girl,” Frida explains. “You don’t have to be foreign, poor or not speak the language. People think these kinds of things just happen to poor immigrants, but it could happen to English girls too.”

Female Role Model 6: Jacqueline de Chollet – Switzerland

jacqueline-de-chollet_croppedOver the past 30 years Jacqueline de Chollet has been active in the fields of Women’s Health, Social Justice, Education, Public Housing, and the Arts. She created the The Global Foundation for Humanity U.S. and the Association du Project Veerni to support the Veerni Project – a project that tackles the issue of child marriage in Rajasthan, India by improving the health and education girls and women in the region. de Chollet said: “We believe that by giving these girls access to education, health and the workplace, Veerni can empower them to take their rightful place in the lives of their communities and their country. Only then will they be able to exercise their human rights and live free from coercion disease and poverty.”

Female Role Model 7: Laura Dunn – United States of America

Laura Dunn is the Founder and Executive Director of SurvJustice, a national nonprofit providing legal assistance to sexual violence survivors across the U.S. She founded SurvJustice after being raped by two men from her crew team at the University of Wisconsin in April 2004. She said: “Afterwards, I struggled for years through campus, criminal and civil systems without receiving justice. Through this tragic experience, I learned about the laws and how to advocate for survivors.” In 2014, Dunn graduated the University of Maryland Carey School of Law where she received the William P. Cunningham Award for her national campus sexual assault advocacy, which includes passing the 2013 Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Reauthorization and advising the White House Task Force to Protect Students Against Sexual Assault.

Female Role Model 8: Loubna Abida – Morocco

Moroccan actress Loubna Abidar was vilified and assaulted for playing a local prostitute in the award-winning film Much Loved, ultimately sending her into exile as a refugee in France. However, she refuses to be silenced by fatwas, online death threats and violence. In her autobiography La Dangereuse, Abidar frankly discusses how she went from overcoming poverty, exclusion and physical and sexual attacks by her father to becoming one of North Africa’s the most acclaimed young actresses and feminist voices in recent years. In an interview with Women Of The World, Abidar said: “In the Arab world generally we have this problem of rapes committed by people known to the victims — by relatives, fathers, uncles. I don’t only talk about my own story, I have done a lot of work with activist associations, especially with little girls living in the mountains.”

Female Role Model 9: Nadia Murad Basee Tahar – Iraq

On August 3, 2014, when ISIS militants attacked Nadia Murad Basee Tahar’s village of Kocho, Iraq. Six of her nine brothers were killed. Murad (then 19 years old) and her two sisters were forced into sexual slavery while their mother was executed as she was considered too old to be a sex slave. Murad was raped, tortured, and beaten frequently until she escaped and made her way to Germany where she began devoting her life to assisting other Yazidi women and girls who have suffered as she did. Murad is now a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador. In September 2016, Murad announced Nadia’s Initiative which is dedicated to helping women and children victimised by genocide and crimes against humanity.

Female Role Model 10: Omaima Hoshan – Syria

omaima-hoshan_cropped15-year-old Omaima Hoshan, a Syrian refugee, runs workshops to discourage child marriage in Jordan’s Za’atari refugee camp. “When I see young girls getting married, it scares me,” Hoshan says in a video from the United Nations refugee agency. “Girls from my home have their future lost or destroyed. This is something I can’t accept.” Hoshan leads girls in drawing, acting and lecture sessions, spreading information about underage marriage and encouraging girls to stay in school and to speak to their parents about the issue, according to Mashable.

Female Role Model 11: Rachana Sunar – Nepal

rachana-sunar_croppedWhen Rachana Sunar was 15 and still in school through a scholarship programme, she was informed by her parents she would marry a man she had never met before. Sunar escaped child marriage by misleading her parents into thinking that if she dropped out of school they’d have to pay for the past three years of her scholarship. Today, Sunar is a very vocal campaigner against child marriage in Nepal and says that dialogue is the only way to change entrenched attitudes to girls in rural Nepal.

Female Role Model 12: Radha Rani Sakher – Bangladesh

radha-rani-sarkher_croppedWhen Radha Sani Sakher was 14, she narrowly escaped an arranged marriage with the help of an educated cousin and her mother. Sakher returned to school with the help of her teachers and an aid group. Today she studies social sciences at Dinajpur’s regional university and is part of the “wedding busters” who campaign to stop child marriage. To date, she has saved 20 girls from forced marriages. Sakher’s goal is to build a centre for girls to find refuge from underage marriages until they are legally adults because “The situation has improved a little in recent years, but underage marriage still enjoys impunity.”

Female Role Model 13: Sarian Karim Kamara – Sierra Leone

sarian-karim-kamara_croppedSarian Karim Kamara underwent the brutal ritual of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) twice when she was just 11 years old. It took Kamara four years after becoming sexually active to get to know her body and experience her first orgasm. Today, she teaches other FGM survivors how to work with their bodies to experience sexual gratification and have a healthy sex life. Kamara said that an openness to explore one’s body in the wake of devastating physical trauma and a supportive sex partner are essential for FGM survivors to achieve sexual pleasure. “Even though the clitoris has been removed, that doesn’t stop us from having full capacity of pleasure during sex.”

Female Role Model 14: Tabassum Adnan – Pakistan

tabassum-adnan_croppedPakistani activist Tabassum Adnan was married off when she was just 13-years-old. After suffering 20 years of physical and mental abuse, Adnan divorced her husband, which resulted in the loss of her children, home, and finances. To help stop gender-based violence that commonly affect Pakistani women including forced marriage, child marriage, honour killings, acid attacks and domestic violence, she started the NGO Khwendo Jirga, a first of its kind women-only jirga, where women meet weekly to discuss violence against women and swara, or giving women as compensation for crimes.

Female Role Model 15: Vidya Bal – India

vidya-bal_croppedVeteran Indian feminist activist Vidya Bal has spent her life fighting against violence against women and other forms of gender discrimination. In 1982, she founded the Nari Samata Manch (Women Equality Forum) and has gone on to create, support, and counsel women’s groups. Bal said of her organisation’s work: “We want to create awareness that it is about being a good human being—and not about being a “feminine woman” or a “manly man.” Only then, we can aspire for an equitable society. This is a small experiment. I am hoping to make a small difference. Often I meet young boys telling me that after listening to my lectures their perspective of girls changed! Maybe that’s just a temporary thing—but still a good thing.”

Female Role Model 16: Zahra Yaganah – Afghanistan

zahra-yaganah_croppedZahra Yaganah grew up as an Afghan refugee in Iran and, at 13, was married off to a violent man. Today, her book Light Of Ashes – part fiction, part memoir – which chronicles her traumatic life as a child bride is one of the fastest-selling books in Afghanistan. Using her writing to speak out, Yaganah breaks taboos by explicitly writing about taboo topics including marital rape, menstruation and the lifelong damage caused by child marriages. Yaganah hopes that her book will help Afghan women break free of the violence. “It is impossible for Afghan women to read this book and not find an issue that reflects their life story,” she said. “Women can find their path, despite all the problems they have.”

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Photo Credits:

  1. Balkissa Chaibou – From “The girl who said ‘no’ to marriage” (BBC News Online)
  2. Bogaletch Gebre – From “How Bogaletch Gebre is Bringing an End to Female Genital Mutilation in Ethiopia” (KMG via ibtimes.co.uk)
  3. Clementine Ford – From “This is why we have women-only spaces, and why I don’t want to hear your complaints” (The Sydney Morning Herald)
  4. Fatou Bensouda – From “Fatou Bensouda, the woman who hunts tyrants” (Judith Jockel/The Guardian)
  5. Frida Farrell – From “The Sex Trafficking Victim Who Turned Her Nightmare Into A Feature Film (Huckmagazine.com)
  6. Jacqueline de Chollet – Courtesy of Jacqueline de Chollet
  7. Laura Dunn – Courtesy of Laura Dunn
  8. Loubna Abida – From “Actress Loubna Abidar refuses to be silenced by fatwas, death threats or violence” (Pierre Terdjman/New York Times)
  9. Nadia Murad Basee Tahah – From “A Yezidi Woman Who Escaped ISIS Slavery Tells Her Story” (Kirsten Luce/Time)
  10. Omaima Hoshan – From “This 15-Year-Old Syrian Girl Is Campaigning Against Child Marriage in Her Refugee Camp” (Makers.com)
  11. Rachana Sunar – From  “Child marriage in Nepal: ‘A girl is a girl, not a wife’ (Rachana Sunar/The Guardian)
  12. Radha Rani Sakher – From “Bangladesh’s ‘Wedding buster’ takes on illegal child marriage” (Bas Bogaerts/Plan International)
  13. Sarian Karim Kamara – From “Decades after undergoing genital cutting, woman teaches other FGM survivors how to enjoy sex” (Women Of The World/New York Times)
  14. Tabassum Adnan – From “Pakistani activist wins Nelson Mandela award 2016” (Tabassum Adnan/The Express Tribune)
  15. Vidya Bal – From “Meet the Feminist Fighting India’s Entrenched Misogyny” (Frances Smith/Vice)
  16. Zahra Yaganah – From “The former child bride who is using her story to liberate Afghan women” (Andrew Quilty/The Guardian)

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

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

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

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

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

Best regards,
The Pixel Project Team


Violence Against Women – General


Domestic Violence


Rape and Sexual Assault


Human/Sex Trafficking


Female Genital Mutilation


Forced Marriage and Honour Killing


Activism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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At School

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

At Home and in the Wider Community

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

16 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 Best Blog Articles of 2014

Blog and PenAt The Pixel Project, we are the voices of people from all over the world connecting to change communities. We are a force of volunteer researchers, writers, interviewers, artistes and editors that collaborate to bring a diverse array of programmes to inform and educate in as many ways as possible. We interact with people to bring attention to campaigns developed in both highly populated areas and remote areas around the world, to share news stories of positive activism and to highlight new programmes developed through our bi-monthly e-news digest, highlighting activists through our Facebook page, sharing information and resources through our daily Twitter help-lines and by writing thoughtful and inspiring blog posts on our main website and our campaign micro-sites.

As a virtual nonprofit organisation, we combine technology, social media, popular culture, the arts, and journalism with activism and resources that can be accessed from anywhere by anyone and everyone to draw attention to the many ways violence against women (VAW) affects the lives of all people in all communities all around the world. We seek to identify and bring to global attention the work of new, emerging, innovative and creative activists and allies from all walks of life who are contributing to the cause to end violence. It is through the efforts of these remarkable people and their campaigns that are changing communities and creating a global network of individuals that are joining together through their diverse efforts to bring awareness to the international community and changing the conversation about violence.

This year, we have not only continued our monthly Inspirational Interview series and our wonderful 30 for 30 Father’s Day June campaign; we have developed two new series: The Survivor Stories Project and our “30 Artistes, 30 Songs, 30 Days” interview series. These series have brought new voices into our collective. The stories of surviving and thriving from The Survivor Stories Project bring stories of empowerment that share hope and the transformative power of healing. The “30 Artistes, 30 Songs, 30 Days” interview series includes music artistes and the power of music activism in our efforts to inform the public and raise funds to contribute to the work to end violence worldwide.

While all of our interviewees are worthy of inclusion, we picked 16 to share for this series. We hope you read through all of the stories and campaigns we have highlighted this past year and hope these individuals and groups spotlighted this year motivates you to join the effort to end VAW.

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

– Carol Olson, Editor-in-Chief (2014) – The Pixel Project

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Blog Article Selection #1: 30 Artistes, 30 Songs, 30 Days, AHMIR – United States of America

AHMIR, The Pixel Project’s YouTube ambassador, is the #1 Most Popular R&B Group on YouTube. The group has used their success to bring awareness to charity organisations including The Pixel Project. Their cover video of P!nk’s “Perfect” was named one of the top Anti-Bullying PSA’s by The Huffington Post.  Their video of covering Unconditionally incorporated information about the Pixel Project in support of the Celebrity Male Role Model Campaign and all proceeds from the digital downloads of the single go towards supporting The Pixel Project’s anti-Violence Against Women work.

Blog Article Selection #2: 30 For 30 Father’s Day Campaign: Colin D’Silva – India and Singapore

Colin has a doctorate in Biochemistry/Microbiology and has been working in the cosmetics industry for over 16 years. He worked in retail beauty for most of his career, and is now working in the prestige/luxury beauty industry. He says: “Men need to understand and accept that manhood is not about being macho. Patience, kindness, home life balance, and equality in the home are part of what the father needs to instill in the family and live out himself. Fathers and male role models must be vocal about condemning violence against women. They must encourage all boys & men to do the same and not turn a blind eye to this issue.”

Blog Article Selection #3: Inspirational Interview: David Lee – of The California Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CALCASA) – United States of America

Our first Inspirational Interview of 2014 was with David Lee, Director of Prevention Services at the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CALCASA) and manager of PreventConnect, the nation’s leading online community to advance primary prevention of violence against women. David said: “In many ways prevention work is, at its core, about inspiring activists, building a movement, and creating policies, procedures and practices that fit our vision for a world without sexual and domestic violence.”

Blog Articles Selection #4: Survivor Stories Project: Deborah J. Monroe – United States of America

Deborah survived both child abuse and interpersonal violence as a young adult. She details her story of survival in her book: “Hurt No More”. She is now a public speaker, advocate, mentor, blogger, and founder of Victimize Me No More, a nonprofit with a mission to spread awareness about domestic violence, child abuse, and sexual assault.

Endriani SiswantiBlog Article Selection #5: Survivor Stories Project: Endriani Siswanti – Indonesia

Endriani survived 8 years of domestic violence. She has published her story in the Jakarta Globe under the title “Lighting the Path to Safety with Pundi Perempuan.” She writes about her journey of healing and her success at leaving the relationship and pursuing a healthy life. Endriani says: “Hopeless, frightened, butchered and bruised. It was 2006 and I was flying away from an abusive husband and eight years of bad marriage. With neither a family nor a safe place to turn to, I only had an address from a portable calendar in my home: The Women Crisis Center in South Jakarta.”

Blog Article Selection #6: 30 For 30 Father’s Day Campaign: Hasman Farid Mohd Ali Noh – Malaysia

Hasman Farid is a happily married dad of three children, aged thirteen, eight, and three. He has worked in the financial industry for the past 15 years in both Malaysia and Singapore. He says: “My attitude towards women and girls are directly related to the way my father treats my mother. In my life, I have never once seen my father scold my mother or expect my mother to attend to his needs and fancies […] men who treat women violently are the most cowardly human beings.”

Blog Article Selection #7: Inspirational Interview: Jaclyn Friedman, Writer, Educator, Activist. – United States of America

Jaclyn Friedman is the Executive Director of Women Action Media – an organisation which focuses on fighting gender injustice in the media. She is a writer, educator, activist, and creator of the book Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape and What You Really Really Want: The Smart Girl’s Shame-Free Guide to Sex & Safety. She spearheaded the #FBRape campaign that forced Facebook to review its policies on gender-based hate speech.

Blog Article Selection #8: Inspirational Interview: Julie S. Lalonde – of  Hollaback! Ottawa and Founder of the Draw the Line Campaign – Canada

Julie S. Lalonde is an award-winning social justice activist based out of Ottawa, Canada. She is the director of Hollaback!- Ottawa, and founder of Draw-the-Line.ca, which aims to end sexual violence by engaging bystanders. Lalonde said: “I cannot tolerate being silent about living in a rape culture. I cannot go to bed at night knowing that rape culture exists but doing nothing to stop it. I know that eradicating sexual violence means challenging the status quo and in turn, being really unpopular, but I do it anyway.”

Blog Article Selection #9: Inspirational Interview: Kriti Bharthi – The Saarthi Trust – India

Kriti Bharti is an internationally recognised Rehabilitation Psychologist for her work for child welfare and women empowerment. She established the charity Saarthi Trust in 2012 to help victims of India’s child marriage crisis and set up another charity, Badhtey Kadam, to help poor street children who are looking to improve their lives.

Kriti Bharti 1

Blog Article Selection #10: Inspirational Interview: Laura Bates – of Everyday Sexism Project. – United Kingdom

Laura Bates began the Everyday Sexism Project and has collected over 50,000 people’s experiences of gender imbalances. The project is now being used by politicians, schools, universities, businesses, police forces and the UN to make concrete steps towards ending gender inequality. She is Patron of Somerset and Avon Rape and Sexual Abuse Support (SARSAS), which is a member of Rape Crisis England and Wales. Laura is also a Contributor at Women Under Siege, a New York-based organisation working against the use of rape as a tool of war in conflict zones worldwide.

Blog Article Selection #11: 30 Artistes, 30 Songs, 30 Days: Macy Kate – United States of America

Macy Kate is the youngest recording artist to record with Sean Kingston and has opened for Rick Springfield, Aaron Carter, the OMG Girlz, Seven Nations, IM5 and has performed at Radio Disney’s Silver Bells in front of 20k plus people. Macy believes it is important to help other women and young girls to reach their goals and dreams in a safe, loving environment. She uses her music to inspire other girls her age to believe in themselves and the value that they bring to the world.

Blog Article Selection #12: Inspirational Interview: Margeaux Gray – United States of America

Margeaux Gray  is a survivor of child sex trafficking who has transcended her horror and today she uses her voice and art to educate, inspire, and empower others. She is an anti-human trafficking advocate, public speaker, and artist. Margeaux’s focus as a survivor-leader is to address the aftercare and healthcare needs of victims, as well as to work with healthcare professionals, educators, and students so that they can recognise and aid trafficking victims. Her mission as an advocate is to create a widespread awareness of the scope of trafficking and that it is a human rights issue.

Blog Article Selection #13: 30 for 30 Father’s Day Campaign: Martin Copeland – United States of America

Martin is the husband to Siobhan and father to Jaxon, who is four months old. His other roles fall behind those. He has been told that he has been a dad for years because he works and volunteers in youth work as a teacher, college access advisor, youth leader, and mentor for young men in the DMV area (DC, Maryland, Virginia) for over 10 years. Martin says: “Fathers and other male role models must actually model appropriate behaviour for the young men in their lives. Young men have to see examples of men who not only respect women but acknowledge the injustices against women in this world.”

Blog Article Selection #14: Inspirational Interview: Ruth Jones – Director of the National Centre for the Study and Prevention of Violence and Abuse. – United Kingdom

Ruth Jones has been celebrated for her work in research and education on the issue of domestic violence and violence against women. She has been instrumental in developing the first MA in Professional Development focused on The Dynamics of Domestic Violence at the University of Worcester. Ruth says: “Gender-based violence will never be prevented if we don’t address the underlying factors that are conducive to its perpetration of violence, not least of which is gender inequality. In a society in which women and girls continue to be sexualised, objectified, and vilified, we have still have a long way to go.”

Blog Article Selection #15: Inspirational Interview: Soraya Chemaly – Activist, Writer, Feminist – United States of America

Soraya is a writer, media critic and activist focused on women’s rights and the role of gender in politics, religion and popular culture. In collaboration with Jaclyn Friedman and Laura Bates, she spearheaded the #FBRape campaign to hold Facebook accountable for their disregard of the video’s and images of rape on their site.

Check out this Google Hangout chat with Soraya, Jaclyn and Regina Yau (Founder of The Pixel Project) discussing online violence against women:

Blog Article Selection #16: Inspirational Interview: Trace Fleming – Creator of Facebook platform: Self-Care for Advocates – United States of America

Trace G. Fleming is an activist and advocate working to end violence against women. She is the creator of both the Advocate News and Self-Care for Advocates, platforms on Facebook to serve advocates. Trace is the new Sexual Violence Program Director and Coordinator of the Abuse in Later Life Project at 2nd Chance, Inc. Trace says: “This [Self-Care for Advocates]  is a safe, feminist space open for advocates to share when they are struggling with burn out or vicarious trauma. It’s …a space for advocates to receive and give support.”