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.”

16 Ways to Educate Individuals and Communities about Sexual Consent

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

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

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

Written by Rebecca DeLuca


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Today is the first day of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence 2014 campaign and The Pixel Project is kicking things off with our 5th annual list of 16 female role models fighting to end violence against women in their communities. The intent of this list is simple: to highlight the good work of the heroines of the movement to end violence against women wherever they are in the world. The women and girls in this year’s list hail from 18 countries and 4 continents.

Many of these astounding women have shown that it is possible to transform personal pain that came out of facing gender-based violence into positive action to stop violence against women, to empower themselves and to show other survivors that it is possible to move forward with dignity and happiness. They have refused to let bitterness and pain get the better of them, opting to stand up for themselves and for other women instead. Indeed, we are very happy to note that the extraordinary girls’ education activist, Malala Yousafzai, who was one of our Female Role Models of 2012 has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize this year. Well done, Malala!

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

Without further ado, here, in alphabetical order by first name, is our 2014 list of 16 female role models. Sadly, two of the role models on this year’s list (Angelica Bello and Efuo Dorkenoo) have respectively died in 2013 and 2014. Few people outside the anti-Violence Against Women movement may have heard of them and we hope that the general public will learn something about their extraordinary life’s work via this list. We hope that they and the rest of the women here will be an inspiration to others to get involved with the cause. To that end, we hope you will generously share this list via Facebook and Twitter to give these extraordinary 16 women and their work a moment in the sun.

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

– Regina Yau, Founder and President, The Pixel Project

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Female Role Model 1: Angelica Bello – Colombia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Female Role Model 6: Ikram Ben Said – Tunisia

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

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

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

Female Role Model 8: Laxmi – India

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

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

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

Female Role Model 10: Malalai Joya – Afghanistan

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

Female Role Model 11: Manisha Mohan – India

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

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

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

Female Role Model 13: Mussurut Zia – United Kingdom

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

Female Role Model 14: Pragna Patel – United Kingdom

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

Female Role Model 15: Rosi Oroczo – Mexico

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

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

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

16 Ways You Can Support a Survivor of Violence Against Women

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Pixel Project’s VAW e-News Digest – The “16 For 16” 2013 Edition

News-Coffee9-150x150Welcome to the special 16 for 16 edition of The Pixel Project’s VAW e-News Digest, for the 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence!

In the Arab world where old fashion attitudes die hard, women’s rights are frequently violated even in places where governments are relatively progressive on social issues . Sexual harassment is so rife that almost every woman in Egypt has experienced it, according to a United Nations (UN) report released earlier this year. In Saudi Arabia, they must cover themselves in public, cannot drive cars and must remain under male ‘guardianship.’

In the United Kingdom, members of parliament launched a major inquiry why female genital mutilation to ‘get to the truth’ about why no-one has been convicted three decades after it was made illegal . Home Affairs Select Committee is to challenge ministers and the police over why charges have never been brought against ‘cutters’ or families who arrange the surgery.

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.

Researched and compiled by Karina Tayag and edited by Carol Olson.
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16 General News Stories reporting on Violence Against Women 

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16 News Stories reporting on Domestic Violence

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16 News Stories reporting on Sexual Assault and Rape 

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16 News Stories reporting on Sex and Human Trafficking

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16 News Stories reporting on Female Genital Mutilation

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16 News Stories reporting on Forced Marriage and Honour Killing

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16 News Stories reporting on VAW Activism