16 Memorable Stories of Standing Up to Street Harassment 2016

holly1-200x300The Pixel Project is pleased to share the sixth annual blog list of 16 memorable stories of women dealing with street harassment, which has been kindly compiled by Holly Kearl, Founder of our partner Stop Street Harassment and one of our 16 Female Role Models of 2010.

Through Facebook and her Stop Street Harassment website, Holly receives and shares stories of women fighting back against street harassment. She shares these stories to help raise awareness of this particular type of violence against women as well as provide inspiration and ideas for everyone on making public places and spaces safe for women. Almost 100% of women and girls experience street harassment in their lifetimes, ranging from the uncomfortable to the downright dangerous.

This list provides a starting point for all to learn about and discuss the impact of street harassment. We hope it’ll inspire you to take action.

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

– Regina Yau, Founder and President, The Pixel Project

All visuals courtesy of Stop Street Harassment.

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Empowering Response #1:

ruhi

23-year-old Ruhi Rahman was riding the train in Newcastle, England, when a man started making racially threatening comments toward her. A woman sitting next to her jumped up to help her. After she intervened, most of the other passengers also spoke up and forced the man to leave.

Empowering Response #2:

Mercedes in Washington, D.C. faces a lot of catcalls during her early morning commute to work. One morning, men in a truck kept following and harassing her (“Good morning, sexy!” etc). She said, “Normally I would ignore situations like this because men tend to be bold because they’re in their vehicle, a confined space where they feel safe enough to make unflattering remarks. Ironic. I couldn’t keep walking this time, I was so fed up. I snapped and said, ‘Shut-up. Just shut the f*** up!’. Silence. They didn’t say anything else to me. I felt good about speaking up for myself …. Ever since I snapped a lot of the catcalling I normally experience in the morning and leaving work has declined tremendously.”

Empowering Response #3:

kellyIn October after the release of a 2005 recording of American president-elect Donald J. Trump engaging in what he calls “locker room banter” about forcing himself on women, many people spoke out against his behavior. The most visible response was on Twitter.

That night, author Kelly Oxford tweeted, “Women: tweet me your first assaults. They aren’t just stats. I’ll go first: Old man on city bus grabs my ‘pussy’ and smiles at me, I’m 12.” By the next morning, as many as 50 women tweeted their stories per minute of first-person accounts of sexual violence with the hashtag #notokay. Less than three days later, nearly 27 million people had responded or visited Oxford’s Twitter page.

Empowering Response #4:

Deanna Carter called out and shamed a man on the NYC subway who tried to masturbate in front of her. She said, “Rubbing your dick? What the f*ck are you doing? Do it again and I’m getting’ up out of this chair and I’m gonna bust your f*ckin ass on this train.” Then she told him to get off the subway at the next stop – and he did.


Empowering Response #5:

Illustrator Shehzil Malik in Pakistan became so fed up with street harassment that she created a series of images she called #WomenInPublicSpaces to “symbolise the struggle of Pakistani women who feel harassed in public spaces.”

Empowering Response #6:

Thanks to the hard work of activists in Nottingham, UK, the police force began classifying street harassment and other forms of misogyny as a hate crime and police began recording and monitoring it so they can look for trends.

Empowering Response #7:

A woman in Buenos Aires, Argentina, grew sick and tired of men harassing her during her work commute. One day a man on the street made kissy sounds at her. She turned around and told him to “stop harassing women” and “I don’t want to hear any more of your bullshit opinions about my body.” He smiled and started to harass her again. She said “I saw red, took the top off my coffee and threw the full thing in his face!” As she walked away, he called her a “Crazy, dumb bitch” but everyone around them laughed at him.

Empowering Response #8:

Milwaukee bus driver Sharon Chambers saw a girl waving in her direction. When she stopped for her, she saw that she was crying. The girl said a man had been following and harassing her. Chambers told her to get on the bus and that “no one was going to mess with her on my bus.” Chambers called the bus dispatch who notified the police. While they waited for the girl’s grandmother and the police, Chambers said, “Don’t worry about it. You are safe. I will fight for you; no one is going to hurt you.”

sharon

Empowering Response #9:

After a passenger made a lewd comment to an Alaska Airlines flight attendant as she demonstrated how to use a safety vest, she told him to be respectful. When he disagreed, she talked to other staff, and someone came and escorted him off the plane!

Empowering Response #10

A woman was walking home from work when she encountered two men walking toward her. “Hey girl, you look sexy,” said one. She turned toward him and yelled, “Mind your own business!” She said he got the point.

Empowering Response #11:

MJ is a light-skinned Hispanic woman who was at a California fair with her friends when two Hispanic men talked about grabbing her ass in Spanish, not realiaing she could understand them. She turned and screamed, “Go ahead and try!” They literally ran away.

Empowering Response #12:

flA man in Florida liked to start talking to women in stores by asking innocent questions and then escalating quickly to inappropriate and sexually graphic remarks and questions. He filmed the women as he did so. After he did it to a woman for a second time in a few years, she recognised him and remembered his strategy and she began filming him and questioning him and ended up chasing him out of the store. He fled in his car but the police pulled him over and arrested him for reckless driving. He was then charged with video voyeurism too. Many other women came forward to report similar experiences.

Empowering Response #13:

Sarah in Denver, Colorado, was walking across the parking lot to go to work when she saw two boys across the street. One said, “I wanna lick your poop chute” and did an obscene tongue motion. His friend laughed. She noticed no cars on the street and rocks nearby and in a split second decided to cross the street and pick up a rock and threw it near him. He dodged it and ran away screaming, “You’re crazy!” She retorted, “Come back you coward! Come back and say something else to me!”

Empowering Response #14:

S.A. in India was going to meet her tutor when she noticed an ATM guard staring at her in a vulgar way. She was afraid at first but then “gathered courage.” She said, “Stop staring at me that way. It’s inappropriate.” She even threatened to hit him. “He felt quite guilty about what he did,” she wrote.

Empowering Response #15

A woman in Poughkeepsie, NY, was walking to work when two men working on the roof of a building started “hooting and hollering” at her. She stopped and yelled back, “I hope you fall off that building and are crippled for life because you’re already crippled in the head.” That shut them up completely.

Response #16:

luceLucé Tomlin-Brenner said, “I’ve been verbally, emotionally and sexually harassed by men I don’t know for more than half my life. It’s happened while walking down the street, riding on public transportation, working retail/service industry jobs, on college campuses, and while performing on stage. It’s happened in every city I’ve ever lived, visited, or worked in. It’s happened at punk shows that are supposed to be my safe places. These are not compliments, they are violations. They are threats to my mental and physical safety.” In response, artist Olivia Britz-Wheat designed a “Not Your Baby” tattoo for her at Blacklist Tattoo in Portland, Oregon

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)

16 Powerful Public Service Announcements Saying NO To Violence Against Women

Untitled-1For decades, Public Service Announcements (PSAs) have been used by government agencies, charities/nonprofits, and advocacy groups to encourage people to raise awareness about a number of social issues like drugs, alcohol abuse, education, etc. PSAs went from strength to strength as the variety of media channels advanced from print and radio ads in the early days to the invention of television.

Today, with a significant chunk of the world connected – and connecting – through the internet, PSAs have now taken on a completely new role.  PSAs, along with the social media phenomenon of ‘viral videos’, have been breaking new ground in all fields, especially when it comes to raising awareness and educating the public about violence against women (VAW). With YouTube being the second most popular and second largest search engine in the world after Google, video-based social media communities have become a vibrant breeding ground for more and more creative expressions to encourage the conversation around VAW.

This year, as a part of The Pixel Project’s ’16 for 16’ campaign, we have selected 16 of the most innovative PSAs addressing various facets of VAW from across the world. While they may be produced in different areas of the globe, these videos have universal appeal and have reached out to millions of people across country or continental boundaries.

Here is our list – we hope it helps spark much-needed conversation about VAW in your families and communities.

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

Written and compiled by Rubina Singh. Additional PSA selections 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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PSA Selection #1: End Violence Against Women Arab Region PSA – UN Women, Global

[TRIGGER WARNING: This video contains footage that may be disturbing for VAW survivors] This video is part of a series of three PSAs by UN women addressing VAW in the Arab region. This particular video addresses the issue of VAW in conflict zones and has been produced in English, French and Arabic. The other two videos can be viewed here and here:

PSA Selection #2:  Ending Violence against Women – Bangkok Mass Transit Authority and UN Women’s Regional Office for Asia, Thailand

Produced by the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority in collaboration with UN Women, this PSA showcases the extent of VAW around the world and urges commuters to support the local “Love Without Violence” campaign. The video was broadcast on public buses in Bangkok to encourage people to speak up and report cases of VAW.

PSA Selection #3: How To Be More Than A Bystander – The Ending Violence Association of BC, Canada

This PSA, which shows viewers how to take action to stop the harassment of women, is part of a series of PSAs developed by the Ending Violence Association of British Columbia, Canada. The videos were shown during major sporting events in British Columbia. The entire series can be viewed on YouTube here.

PSA Selection #4: “Isn’t It Time Someone Called CUT!” – Women’s Aid, United Kingdom

[TRIGGER WARNING: This video contains scenes that may be distressing for domestic violence survivors] This PSA by Women’s Aid UK features movie star Keira Knightley being abused by her partner and eventually pans back to that the scene is happening at a film set, but the only people there are Keira and her partner. When this PSA by Women’s Aid UK made its debut on cinema screens as part of the preview run before the movies begun as well as on YouTube, it created an uproar and sparked plenty of conversation due to its explicit depiction of domestic violence.

PSA Selection #5: It’s Your Fault – All India Bakchod, India

This PSA by a group of comedians in India called the All India Bakchod (AIB) talks about a number of common commentaries that survivors of VAW are subjected to, not just in India but across the world. As a sarcastic take on victim blaming, it definitely drives the point home.

PSA Selection #6: ‘Le Film Choc’ – Fédération Nationale Solidarité Femmes (FNSF), France

[TRIGGER WARNING: This video contains scenes of sexual assault and domestic violence that may be distressing to some survivors] Fédération Nationale Solidarité Femmes, a women’s rights coalition in France which campaigns to end domestic violence through awareness and education (including training employers healthcare professionals, social workers, psychologists and other professionals likely to come in contact with abused women), made this stark video showing domestic abuse and sexual assault in a number of different contexts, including in same-sex relationships.

PSA Selection #7: ‘Let’s End Violence Against Women’ – UN Women, Global

London-based advertising agency Leo Burnett produced this public service announcement (PSA) for UN Women. The video uses a series of striking images to show how violence against women is one of the most common forms of violence in the world.

PSA Selection #8: ‘Monsters in the Closet’ – Domestic Violence from a child’s view’ – the Verizon Foundation and National Domestic Violence Hotline, USA

This powerful animated PSA talks about how domestic violence impacts women and children. Narrated by a child, the video depicts the cycle of violence and the drastic effects of witnessing domestic violence as a child.

PSA Selection #9:‘Slap Her’ – Fanpage.it, Italy

This controversial viral video shows how young boys react to VAW. The boys are asked to slap a young girl in front of them and every single one of them refused to do so, stating that abusing a girl is wrong.

PSA Selection #10: ‘Stairs’ – Bundesverband Frauenberatungsstellen und Frauennotrufe (BFF), Germany

[TRIGGER WARNING: This video contains scenes that may be disturbing to survivors of domestic violence] Made by BFF, a coalition of more than 160 women’s counselling centres and rape crisis centres in Germany, this video shows women ‘falling down stairs’, an excuse commonly used by domestic violence victims when asked about their bruises and injuries by people outside the family or marriage. The video urges the people to pay attention and to take action to help stop the violence.

PSA Selection #11: Teenage Rape Prevention Advert – The UK Home Office, United Kingdom

[TRIGGER WARNING: This video contains scenes that may be disturbing to survivors of rape and sexual assault] According to the UK’s Home Office, Research shows that many young people suffer from rape and serious sexual assault in their relationships. So the Home Office made this video to target teenagers to help them understand rape and sexual assault in the context of their relationships, and does so by highlighting the importance of consent in sexual relationships.

PSA Selection #12: The”Bell Bajao” series – Breakthrough India, India

These PSAs are part of a series of videos which highlights the creative ways that men and boys who are bystanders can take to intervene in situations of domestic abuse. ‘Bell Bajao’ or ‘Ring the Bell’ encourages viewers to intervene in a safe way to let the abuser know that their behavior is unacceptable. Check out the rest of the “Bell Bajao” series via this YouTube playlist.

PSA Selection #13: The Johannesburg Drums Experiment – POWA, South Africa

Check out this very creative PSA by POWA (People Opposing Women Abuse) which shows how neighbours typically intervene in any situation in their neighbourhood other than domestic violence situations. The silence is deafening.

PSA Selection #14: The NO MORE campaign’s “Speechless” PSA series – The Joyful Heart Foundation, USA

This video is part of a series of PSAs by the No More campaign by actress Mariska Hargitay’s Joyful Heart Foundation.It features the Law & Order: SVU cast and a number of celebrities urging people to start a conversation about VAW and to take action to stop it in their homes and communities. Check out the rest of the series via this YouTube playlist.

PSA Selection #15: ‘Who Are You’ – The ‘Who Are You’ Coalition, New Zealand

[TRIGGER WARNING: The video contains scenes that may be disturbing for survivors of rape and sexual assault] ‘Who Are You?’ is a free toolkit that uses group exercises and a short film to educate young people about the prevention of sexual violence and ethical sexual decision making. This powerful video is a little longer than the standard anti-VAW PSA, aiming to thoroughly address the important role that bystanders play in the prevention of sexual assault and rape.

PSA Selection #16: ‘Who Will You Help’ – Ontario Government, Canada

This video from the Ontario government shows a series of scenarios where being an active bystander can prevent VAW. It encourages viewers to take action in situations of violence and harassment.

16 Activists and Organisations Working Online To Stop Violence Against Women

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With the 21st century in full swing, the internet has become an integral part of everyday life for much for the world. From shopping to social lives, we have become increasingly reliant on the internet to get things done, as well as to communicate with other people. The younger generations, starting with Millenials, have never grown up in a world without the internet. With the increasing affordability and ubiquity of portable technology such as laptops, smartphones, and tablets, even the most remote of locations are getting online and getting connected. Indeed, the UN has even declared internet access a universal human right.

The internet, however, is a double-edged sword. While it has helped everything from business to education take massive leaps forward faster than ever, online communication platforms and communities such as blogs, social media networks, chatrooms, and forums have also helped amplify some of the worst aspects of humanity including misogyny and Violence Against Women (VAW). According to UN Women, “cyber VAWG already exists in many forms, including online harassment, public shaming, the desire to inflict physical harm, sexual assaults, murders and induced suicides”.

The anti-VAW movement has taken on the cyber VAW fight in two major ways. They use social media and other online platforms to educate, raise awareness, raise funds, and to turbo charge the fight against VAW and sexism. Crucially, anti-VAW activists are also finding ways to effectively tackle the tidal wave of cyber-VAW using tactics ranging from rallying individuals and organisations to unite against VAW to pushing social media companies to become more accountable for taking action to stamp out VAW in their communities.

The 16 activists and organisations listed below have been at the frontline of digital anti-VAW activism in the last decade as social media started its unstoppable rise to prominence. From providing an anonymous blog platform for survivors to tell their stories to creating viral educational videos to working with Facebook and Twitter to stop VAW on their watch, each of them have stepped up to take on this new frontier in the fight to end VAW. We hope their work inspires you to do so too.

Written and compiled 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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Recommendation #1: Aimee Smith

Aimee Smith_croppedAimee Smith is the pseudonym of a blogger who shares her story of rape survival.  On her blog One Woman, Smith inspires women to come forward (anonymously if preferred) and share their stories of survival too.  “If we can help even one woman deal with her pain, we will be succeeding”, says Smith.  When she’s not helping others, Smith is teaching, parenting, playing the piano and being nominated for the One Lovely Blog Award.

Recommendation #2: Anita Sarkeesian

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.

Recommendation #3: Breakthrough

breakthroughBreakthrough is a global human rights organisation based in both the U.S. and India. They work to make violence and discrimination against women and girls unacceptable via cutting-edge multimedia campaigns, community mobilisation, agenda setting, and leadership training equip men and women worldwide to challenge the status quo and take action to address and end violence against women and girls. Online campaigning is one of their key strengths – one of their best known online campaigns is their “Bell Bajao” campaign featuring YouTube videos that encourage the viewer to take action to stop domestic violence by ringing the bell. “Bell Bajao” has been adapted by domestic violence organisations in other countries including China and Vietnam.

Recommendation #4: Caroline Criado-Perez

Caroline Criado PerezCaroline Criado-Perez is a freelance journalist and feminist campaigner who successfully campaigned to persuade the Bank of England to include a prominent woman (Jane Austen) among an otherwise all-male group of British luminaries on the back of British currency. The success of the campaign made her and other women the target of numerous threats of rape and murder on Twitter from the day of the Bank of England’s announcement in July 2013. She fought back against the abuse publicly, which resulted in Twitter’s general manager in Britain, Tony Wang, announcing a one-click option on all posts enabling users to easily report abusive tweets, where previously there was no recourse for victims of online harassment on Twitter.

Recommendation #5: Jessica Valenti

Jessica_Valenti_in_March_2014_croppedJessica Valenti is the founder of Feministing.com and the author of four books on feminism, politics and culture, and. Her newest book, Sex Object, will be out in 2016. She is also a daily columnist and staff writer for Guardian US where she writes about violence against women and gender inequality. The Guardian has named her as one of their “top 100 women” for her work to bring the feminist movement online. Her work has also appeared in Ms.,The Nation, The Washington Post, TPMCafe, and Alternet.

Recommendation #6: June Eric-Udorie

June Eric-UdorieJune Eric-Udorie is a 16 year old campaigner against female genital mutilation, writer, and member of  Plan UK’s Youth Advisory Panel where she sits on the Board of Trustees. She advocates for women’s rights and is passionate about ending violence against women and girls. Udorie protests (both online and offline) against victim blaming, supports the empowerment of girls, blogs for New Statesman, and has written for Girls’ Globe and the Telegraph. In April 2015, Udorie petitioned against Sussex Police after they produced objectionable anti-rape posters. The posters were taken down within 72 hours. She was nominated for the Red Women of the Year Award 2015.

Recommendation #7: Meltem Avcil

Meltem Avcil_croppedIn 2007, at the age of 13, Meltem Avcil was placed in the Yarl’s Wood immigration centre, Bedfordshire, UK, with her mother. There she witnessed women (like her mother) who had fled their home countries due to VAW, and were placed in a prison-like space. In a Cosmo article, Avcil is quoted as saying that, “These women have experienced torture, rape, violence, sexual abuse. They have been tortured mentally and physically. So when they come to this country to seek refuge, they’re being tortured again by being put in prison.” As a result of her experience, Avcil has started a change.org petition and called on the UK’s on Home Secretary Theresa May, to end the incarceration of abused women seeking asylum.

Recommendation #8: Nuala Cabral

Nuala Cabral_croppedNuala Cabral created a short film in 2009 called Walking Home, to address street harassment. The film was uploaded to YouTube and was watched by tens of thousands. After Walking Home went viral, the film won the Speaking Out Award at the non-profit Media That Matters Film Festival.  Cabral is a cofounder of FAAN (Fostering Activism and Alternatives Now), a media literacy and activism project that focuses on transforming the way women of colour are depicted in the media. To achieve this and as part of their community engagement, FAAN offers and facilitates a range of workshops, presentations and professional development around media literacy, social media activism and creating media for social change.

Recommendation #9: Raquel Evita Saraswati

Raquel Evita Saraswati is the first woman under the age of 30 to receive a Durga Award for dedication to ending gender-based violence, FGM and forced and child marriages. Saraswati has spoken out publically against honour killings all over the world and has written for prestigious media outlets while campaigning vigorously online via her blog and Twitter where she has over 20,000 followers. Her new initiative is called Adalah: Ending Gender-Based Violence and will focus on “a holistic approach to ending gender-based violence”.

Recommendation #10: Soraya Chemaly

Soraya Chemaly is a feminist media critic and activist whose work focuses on women’s rights, freedom of speech, and the role of gender and violence in politics, religion and pop culture. She is a contributor to Salon, CNN, The Huffington Post, The Guardian, The Nation, Ms. Magazine, and Time and her work is also regularly published in gender-focused media. In May 2013, she teamed up with Women, Action, and The Media (WAM!) to organise a successful global social media campaign demanding that Facebook recognise misogynistic content as hate speech. She works regularly with social media companies to address gender-based inequalities.

Recommendation #11: Stop Street Harassment

SSH-New-LogoStop Street Harassment (SSH) is a non-profit organisation dedicated to documenting and ending gender-based street harassment worldwide. It started as a blog in 2008 by founder Holly Kearl and quickly went from strength to strength over the last 7 years as Kearl built a fast-growing community to push back against street harassment. Today, SSH runs the highly successful International Anti-Street Harassment Week every Spring, using social media, their website resources, and their mailing list to organise groups and tens of thousands of people around the world to take action against street harassment in their community. SSH also continues to collect and document stories of street harassment submitted by women and girls worldwide.

Recommendation #12: Take Back The Tech

Take Back The TechTake Back The Tech! was initiated in 2006 by the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) Women’s Rights Programme and was created as a call to everyone, especially women and girls, to take control of technology to end violence against women. It’s a global, collaborative campaign project that highlights the problem of tech-related violence against women such as cyberstalking, together with research and solutions from different parts of the world. The campaign offers safety roadmaps and information and provides an avenue for taking action. The collective runs several campaigns every year, and their biggest annual campaign takes place during 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence (25 Nov – 10 Dec).

Recommendation #13: The Pixel Project

Pixel Project ThumbnailThe Pixel Project is a global virtual non-profit working to raise awareness, funds, and volunteer power for the cause to end violence against women (VAW) worldwide. They focus on online campaigns which combine social media, new technologies, pop culture, and the arts. Their campaigns span a range of online tools and social media including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google Hangouts, YouTube, and blogs, tailoring these online platforms to reach, involve, and mobilise a wide range of social demographics for the cause including VAW survivors, fathers, music artistes, authors, geeks and book lovers, pet lovers, and foodies. Their flagship campaign is the Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign – a crowdfunding campaign which aims to get donors worldwide to reveal a million-pixel collage of 4 celebrity male role models by donating a dollar a pixel.

Recommendention #14: UN Women

UNwomen-Logo-Blue-TransparentBackground-enThe United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), is a United Nations entity working for the empowerment of women. One of their key focal issues is violence against women (VAW) and in the last decade, they have successfully leveraged the power of the internet and social media to rally the global community to take action to stop VAW. In 2009, they launched the SayNO – UNiTE to end Violence Against Women campaign which aimed to raise at least 1 million actions to stop VAW (and succeeded). In 2014, they launched the #HeForShe campaign with Harry Potter star Emma Watson as the ambassador to get men and boys to step up to end sexism, misogyny, and VAW.

Recommendation #15: Women, Action, and The Media (WAM!)

WAM! states that they are a “nonprofit dedicated to building a robust, effective, inclusive movement for gender justice in media”. Founded by feminist activist Jaclyn Friedman, WAM! runs a variety of campaigns that aims to change the way online and traditional media treat and portray women and girls. WAM! has broken new ground with getting social media giants such as Facebook and Twitter to become more pro-active in addressing online harassment and misogyny that take place on their sites. In November 2014, WAM! collaborated with Twitter to address the online harassment of female Twitter users. In May 2013, WAM! took on Facebook with an open letter signed by more than 100 anti-Violence Against Women organisations demanding that Facebook recognize misogynistic content as hate speech. They won.

Recommendation #16: Yas Necati

Yas NecatiYas Necati is an 18 year old activist who describes herself as a “full-time patriarchy-smasher”. In 2013, she launched a campaign called #BetterSexEducation due to the UK’s Sex and Relationships Education out-dated curriculum. Nescati helps run the Campaign4Consent, which aims to make consent and information about sexual assault part of the UK’s Sex and Relationships Education curriculum. She is managing editor of Powered By Girl and a member of No More Page 3. And if all of the above isn’t enough, Necati is also writing a book on feminism for teens.

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16 Filmmakers Making Films About Violence Against Women (And Telling the Right Stories)

Films are a powerful storytelling medium. They have the ability to influence and change the world. How someone chooses to use this medium makes all the difference. In the last few years, a myriad of fiction and non-fiction films have been made about Violence Against Women (VAW) and other women’s rights issues. Many of these films have had a positive impact in the fight against VAW as they are often a powerful vehicle for educating the viewer about issues related to VAW.

For our ‘16 for 16’ campaign this year, we have compiled a list of 16 filmmakers making films about VAW and doing it the right way. These creative artists hail from different countries like Ghana, Iran, Pakistan, Canada and Sweden. They are united in their belief in and commitment to making films that tell stories of women from all walks of life. Many of these films have addressed issues that weren’t being talked about before and brought them into mainstream conversation.

This list encompasses filmmakers from across the globe and amongst their ranks are Academy Award winners and Indie directors. Their films have made an impact in one way or another and tackle different types of VAW in different cultures and communities. Together, they provide a thought-provoking no-holds-barred perspective on the entire issue. We hope that you’ll check out their films and share them with others to provide food for thought and a spur to action that might help your communities get motivated to stop VAW.

Written and compiled by Rubina Singh.

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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Filmmaker Against VAW #1:  Abeer Zeibak Haddad – Palestine

Photo Credit: unavailable

Abeer Zeibak Haddad is a Palestinian filmmaker, theatre director and actor most well-known for her documentary, Duma (Dolls). Duma is a groundbreaking documentary which encourages survivors of sexual abuse to break their silence and speak out. This is one of the only films made about sexual violence in the Arab region. Abeer believes that the film will encourage more women to speak up and help end the cycle of violence against women in the region. Abeer is currently working on another documentary on honour killings.


Filmmaker Against VAW #2:
Deepa Dhanraj – India

Photo Credit: Aniruddha Chowdhury/MintDeepa Dhanraj is a noted Indian feminist and documentary filmmaker. She has been a part of the Indian women’s movement since the 1980s and continues to work for women’s rights causes. Throughout her filmmaking career, she has attempted to share the everyday fights of Indian women. Her most influential films Something like a War, Nari Adalat and Enough of this Silence have tackled subjects like family planning and women’s courts. Her latest film, Invoking Justice talks about the life of a young Muslim woman who challenges stereotypes in her community. A strong believer in participatory film making, Deepa uses her work as a tool to bring about change in communities.

Filmmaker Against VAW #3: Deepa Mehta – India and Canada

Photo Credit: Devyani Saltzman

An internationally acclaimed filmmaker, Deepa Mehta has been the force behind some of the most powerful films addressing VAW. Born in India and now settled in Canada, Deepa’s poignant films have been screened and received recognition at almost every notable film festival in the world. Her elemental Trilogy consisting of three films – Earth, Fire, and Water addressed issues like same-sex relationships and widow remarriage. A documentary, Let’s Talk About it followed by a fictional feature film, Heaven on Earth, broaches the subject of domestic violence. Her focus on creating films with strong female characters and sharing stories through their point of view has garnered her fame and appreciation across the globe.

Filmmaker Against VAW #4: Deeyah Khan – Norway

Photo Credit: Deeyah Khan

Norwegian-born Deeyah Khan is a critically acclaimed music producer, composer, Emmy and Peabody award-winning documentary film director and human rights activist. Her most acclaimed film work is an Emmy Award winning documentary, Banaz: A Love Story tells the story of the honour killing of a young British Kurdish woman who was killed by her own family for choosing to carve her own path in life. Her passion for the cause led her to co-develop the Honour Based Violence Awareness Network (HBVA) in 2012. Deeyah has also received several awards for her work supporting freedom of expression and in 2012 she was awarded the prestigious Ossietzky prize by Norwegian PEN. She is currently continuing her work as an artist and activist through FUUSE, her social purpose music and film company.

Filmmaker Against VAW #5: Elizabeth Tadic – Australia

Photo Credit: Unavailable

Elizabeth Tadic is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker, has spent a large part of her life in an attempt to share stories of marginalised people. Her work with the international television show, ‘Dateline’ as well as her filmmaking projects, have taken her to remote parts of the world. Her latest documentary, UMOJA: No Men Allowed has won 12 international awards since its premier in 2010. The film shares the incredible story of a village in Kenya, founded by women, for women. Elizabeth has also been awarded the United Nations Media Peace Award in 2006 for her impactful work in Television and Films.

Filmmaker Against VAW #6: Evan Grae Davis – USA

Photo credit: Unavailable

Evan Grae Davis is an activist and documentary filmmaker based in the USA. He’s the director of the acclaimed documentary It’s a Girl which highlights the prevalence of female infanticide and gendercide in India and China. The documentary has been appreciated all over the world for beautifully capturing the plight of over 200 million missing women. Evan also participated in and edited The Pixel Project’s “Who Is Your Male Role Model?: YouTube campaign featuring non-violent men from different walks of life sharing their views on how men can be positive role models in the fight against VAW. His video for the campaign can be seen here.   

Filmmaker Against VAW #7: Hossein Martin Fazeli – Iran

Hossein Martin Fazeli

For over 15 years Hossein Martin Fazeli has been making fiction and non-fiction films on various human rights issues including VAW. His most celebrated work, Women on the Frontline, talks about the women’s freedom movement in Iran. Over the years, he has received over 37 international awards for his work, much of which highlights socio-cultural issues in the Iranian region. He is currently working on two more feature documentaries on women’s issues including one on Phoolan Devi – the legendary ‘Bandit Queen’ from India.

Filmmakers Against VAW #8: Ilse and Femke van Velzen – Holland

Ilse and Femke van Velzen

Twin sisters Ilse and Femke van Velzen have been making hard-hitting documentaries on various social issues since 2002. Born in the Netherlands, they currently work independently under their own label, IF Productions. Their documentaries have had a strong focus on the developing world, particularly VAW. Fighting the Silence, a film highlighting the sexual violence against women and girls during the Democratic Republic of Congo’s war, gives voice to over 80,000 victims. The sisters also creatively use their films as sustainable educational projects. Through the Mobile Cinema Foundation they take films about sexual violence from one community to another to encourage a conversation around the subject.

Filmmaker Against VAW #9: Kim Longinotto – UK

Photo Credit: Sean Smith /Guardian

One of most internationally acclaimed filmmakers on this list, British born Kim Longinotto has been behind some of the most impactful documentaries on women in the last two decades. Since her first film in 1976, she has highlighted issues from Female Genital Mutilation to child marriage and prostitution. One of her most famous films is Pink Saris, where she shared the story of Sampat Pal, a child bride who grew up to lead the ‘Gulabi Gang’, a group of women who spoke up against corruption and violence in their community. She was awarded the prestigious BAFTA award for this film.

Filmmaker Against VAW #10: Lourdes Portillo – Mexico and the USA

Lourdes Portillo_croppedLourdes Portillo is a noted Mexican-American screenwriter and filmmaker. Passionate about filmmaking from a young age, Lourdes’ films have a special focus on Latin American, Mexican and Chicano issues. Her first film, Las Madres: The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo was nominated for an Academy award for best documentary. It told the story of a group of Argentine mothers who protested for their missing children. Another notable human rights documentary, Señorita Extraviada told the tragic story of hundreds of kidnapped, raped and murdered young women of Juárez, Mexico. This film allowed Lourdes to truly understand her role as a filmmaker and how films can be used to confront oppression.

Filmmaker Against VAW #11: Marcela Zamora Chamorro – Costa Rica

Photo Credit: Moonlight, Weddings & Events Photography.

Marcela Zamora Chamorro is an up-and-coming filmmaker who completed her journalism degree in Costa Rica and then joined the International School of Film and Television of San Antonio de los Baños, Cuba. Her first feature documentary, Maria in Nobody’s Land told the story of the illegal and extremely dangerous journey of three women to the USA. The courageous film has participated in film festivals in over 14 countries and received many awards.

Filmmaker Against VAW #12: Nima Sarvestani – Iran and Sweden

Nima Sarvestani_croppedNima Sarvestani started out his career as a journalist in Iran before moving to Sweden in 1984. He has since been working as a documentary filmmaker through his company, Nimafilm Production. Many of his films focus on socio-political issues in the Middle East. One of his standout films on women, No Burqas Behind Bars, looks at the stories of women prisoners in Afghanistan. Another gem, I was Worth 50 Sheep, shows the story of a child bride under the Taliban rule. Nima makes his documentaries with an acute sensitivity and has won a number of prestigious awards for his work.

Filmmaker Against VAW #13: Rebecca Barry – Australia

Photo Credit: Diane McDonald

A storyteller at heart, Rebecca Barry has been making thought-provoking films for the past decade. After graduating from the Australian Film Television and Radio School in 2003, Rebecca has been using the power of filmmaking to talk about social issues in Australia and across the world. Her 2013 feature documentary, I am a Girl, won her many accolades for showing the stories of six young girls from six different countries and the different issues that they face simply because they’re women. Through the film, Rebecca aimed to put a ‘human face’ to the horrifying statistics that she had read around VAW. She continues to make an impact through her media production company, Media Stockade, which specializes in documentaries and other factual programs.

Filmmaker Against VAW #14: Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy – Pakistan

Photo Credit: Unavailable

Oscar and Emmy award-winning filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy is one of the most well-known female filmmakers from Pakistan. Born in Pakistan and educated in USA, Sharmeen has made over a dozen documentaries highlighting various human rights and women’s rights issues. Her work has been so impactful that she was listed as one of Time Magazines 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2012. Her Academy Award winning documentary, Saving Face shares the story of a plastic surgeon who performs reconstructive surgeries on acid attack victims. Her other films such as Transgender: Pakistan’s Open Secret and Pakistan’s Taliban Generation have addressed difficult issues as well. Sharmeen hopes that through her films she will be able to give a voce to those who cannot be heard.

Filmmaker Against VAW #15: Shelley Saywell – Canada

Shelley Saywell_croppedBorn to a professor father and social worker mother, Shelley Saywell has been socially conscious from childhood. She started her filmmaking career in 1986 and has made more than ten hard-hitting documentaries on VAW and other human rights issues. Her passion and talent have won her a number of awards including an Emmy for her film, Crimes of Honour, which talked about the issue of honour killing and femicide. She is also the force behind films such as No Man’s Land: Women Frontline Journalists, In the Name of Family and Kim’s Story: The Road from Vietnam, all of which look at various perspectives of women’s rights.

Filmmaker Against VAW #16: Yaba Badoe – Ghana and the United Kingdom

 

Yaba_Badoe_CroppedBorn in Ghana, Yaba Badoe moved to the UK as a child to complete her education. She grew up to be a noted journalist, author and filmmaker. With a passion to share her ideas and shape the world, Yaba has created some beautiful, award-winning films around women. In 2010, she released The Witches of Gambaga, a film that told the story of a community in Ghana which condemned women as witches based on the death of a chicken. Horrified at the existence of such a situation in modern-day Ghana, Yaba captured the story on film and brought it into mainstream conversation. Her latest film, The Art of Ama Ata Aidoo, showcases the story of Africa’s foremost feminist writer Ama Ata Aidoo.

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Photo credits:

  1. The filming of “It’s A Girl” (top photo) – Photo courtesy of Evan Grae Davis
  2. Abeer Zeibak Haddad – From www.thisweekinpalestine.com
  3. Deepa Dhanraj – Photo from www.LiveMint.com/Aniruddha Chowdhury
  4. Deepa Mehta – Photo from www.hamiltonmehta.com/Devyani Saltzman
  5. Deeyah Khan – Photo courtesy of Deeyah Khan
  6. Elizabeth Tadic – Photo from Vimeo.
  7. Evan Grae Davis – Photo courtesy of Evan Grae Davis
  8. Hossein Martin Fazeli – Photo from www.fazalifilms.com/Hossein Martin Fazeli
  9. Ilse and Femke van Velzen – Photo from www.ifproductions.nl/Ilse and Femke van Velzen
  10. Kim Longinotto – Photo from The Guardian/Sean Smith 
  11. Lourdes Portillo – Photo from www.twitchfilm.com
  12. Marcela Zamora Chamorro – Photo from www.mediolleno.com/Moonlight, Weddings & Events Photography
  13. Nima Sarvestani – Photo from www.nimafilmsweden.com 
  14. Rebecca Barry – Photo from www.imdb.com/Diane McDonald
  15. Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy – Photo from www.sharmeenobaidfilms.com
  16. Shelley Saywell – Photo from www.wift.com
  17. Yaba Badoe – Photo from Wikipedia/Rashde Fidigo / ZIFF

The Pixel Project Selection 2015: 16 Authors Saying NO To Violence Against Women

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

With VAW being a taboo topic in many cultures and communities, pop culture media (including film, books and gaming) have become invaluable awareness-raising, advocacy and educational tools through which the anti-Violence Against Women (VAW) movement can reach out to educate communities and raise their awareness about VAW, to break the silence surrounding the violence and to inspire people to take action to stop this human rights atrocity.

The Pixel Project’s Read For Pixels campaign was first launched in September 2014 in recognition of the longstanding power of books to shape cultural ideas and influence the direction of history. From Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird to to J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter series to Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point, popular authors and their stories have been instrumental in planting ideas, triggering thoughtful water-cooler discussions, and providing food for thought for communities. And in the age of Geek culture and social media, bestselling authors wield influence beyond just their books as they are able to directly communicate their readers and fans via Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and other social media channels.

Since then, the campaign has gone from strength to strength. To date, 41 award-winning bestselling authors have participated in various Read For Pixels campaigns and initiatives, raising over $21,000 for the cause to end VAW to date. In this article, we honour 16 of this year’s bestselling authors from our 2015 Read For Pixels campaigns.* They hail from genres as diverse as Comics, Horror, Contemporary Fiction, Young Adult, Urban Fantasy and Science Fiction. Many of them are global celebrities with strong fan followings, others are well-respected in their countries or genres. Still others are up-and-coming stars who have decided to use their talents for good. It is the movement to end VAW that unites and inspires them and we hope that all of them will continue to work with the movement in years to come.

To learn more about each author and their books, click on the author’s name.

To learn more about what each author has to say about violence against women, click on their quote in their write-up below to be taken to the YouTube video of their Read For Pixels Google Hangout or their blog articles.

NOTE: The Pixel Project is thrilled to note that we had our best ever author participation yet in 2015 with 25 authors taking part in Read For Pixels campagins throughout the year. Those not featured in this year’s list will be featured in next year’s list.

Written and compiled by Regina Yau. Google Hangout transcriptions by Anushia Kandasivam, Shreya Gupta, and 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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Author Against VAW 1: Charlaine Harris

Charlaine Harris Headshot_croppedCharlaine Harris is the New York Times bestselling author of the Sookie Stackhouse fantasy/mystery series, the Aurora Teagarden, Harper Connelly, and Lily Bard mystery series, and Midnight Crossroad, the first Midnight, Texas, novel. She has lived in the South her entire life. During her Read For Pixels Google Hangout, Charlaine talked about being a rape survivor, supporting other survivors in their journey, and tackling the issue of VAW in her stories. She said: “Women should be able to live their lives and say what they think without fearing physical retaliation . . . it is that simple! I just do not see how a society can miss that.”

Author Against VAW 2: Diane Chamberlain

Diane Chamberlain Headshot_compressedDiane Chamberlain is the international best-selling author of 23 novels published in more than twenty-five languages. Her most recent novel, THE SILENT SISTER, made the USA Today Bestseller List. Prior to her writing career, she was a hospital social worker and a psychotherapist in private practice. During her Read For Pixels Google Hangout, Diane talked about stopping VAW and the importance of including men and boys in the movement: “I really get upset over the idea of this ‘us versus them’ thing – that if women have more rights, then men have fewer rights. I really don’t think it’s a win-lose kind of situation, but I fear that is what happens most of the time. I consider myself a feminist but I also consider myself a ‘masculist’, where I just think we need to be as concerned about our boys and the messages we give our boys as we do our girls.”

Authors Against VAW 3: Jane Green

Jane Green headshotJane Green is the author of fifteen New York Times bestselling novels, including TEMPTING FATE. Initially known for writing about single thirty-somethings, Green has graduated to more complex novels that explore the concerns of real women’s lives, from marriage to motherhood to, most recently, midlife crises. During Jane’s Read For Pixels Google Hangout, she talked about the importance of having role models and relationship models as part of helping stop VAW and what authors can do through their work. She said: “As a woman myself, and having witnessed a couple of friends in abusive relationships, we don’t know what a healthy relationship is, we don’t know what to look for. I don’t know what to look for. I consider myself enormously blessed being married for the second time and … having an incredibly loving, supportive, healthy and functional partnership. […] I’m trying very hard in my books to model something that I’ve now been lucky enough to experience. I would like to think that somebody somewhere would read it and might perhaps question … the situation that they’re in.”

Authors Against VAW 4: Jaye Wells

Jaye Wells_highres_croppedJaye Wells is a USA Today-bestselling author of urban fantasy and speculative crime fiction. Raised by booksellers, she loved reading books from a very young age. That gateway drug eventually led to a full-blown writing addiction. When discussing solutions for stopping VAW, Jaye said: “I think fostering empathy is important on every level of this issue. It is just trying to be more kind to people and understanding where they are coming from and understanding what motivates them and looking for common ground. That is how solutions happen. But shouting at people builds walls and we do not need more walls. We need to break the walls down and come together as a society and say, ‘You know what, no violence! That is not who we want to be.’”

Author Against VAW 5: Jennifer L. Armentrout

JLA_Author-photo_Cropped#1 New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. Her book OBSIDIAN has been optioned for a major motion picture and her COVENANT series has been optioned for TV. When discussing how authors can support the movement to end VAW, she said: “One of the ways authors can support it is representing it in their books. I don’t know how many times I’ve received emails from people saying that they’ve read something in my book that honestly I never thought about…but they connected with that situation or that character and it gave them the opportunity to say to me ‘this is what happened to me’. And since they said it to me, they now feel empowered to say it to somebody else. So I think that sometimes by having those types of representations in their novels, you have no idea who you’re reaching and it could be that one thing that finally shows a woman or a child that ‘I need to get out of this situation’ or ‘I need to help get this person out of this situation’.”

Authors Against VAW 6: Jim C. Hines

Jim Hines_compressedJim C. Hines is the author of eleven fantasy novels, including the MAGIC EX LIBRIS series, the PRINCESS series of fairy tale retellings, the humorous GOBLIN QUEST trilogy, and the FABLE LEGENDS tie-in BLOOD OF HEROES. He’s an active blogger and has  won the 2012 Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer. Jim was a sexual assault counsellor and has written extensively about issues of violence against women, sexism, and misogyny in geek culture on his blog and is the only author who has a section dedicated to resources for rape survivors on website. He wrote this about VAW in the geek community: “People don’t choose to be raped.  People choose to commit rape.  If you make that choice, I don’t want you in my community. Can you imagine what would happen if, every time someone raped, assaulted, or harassed another person, the rest of us actually spoke out?  If we as a community let them know — clearly and loudly — that this would not be tolerated?  If we told those who had been assaulted that we would listen, and we would support them?” Check out Jim’s Read For Pixels Google Hangout here.

Authors Against VAW 7: Jonathan Maberry

FullSizeRender_croppedJonathan Maberry is a New York Times bestseller, a five-time winner of the Bram Stoker Award, and a comic book writer for IDW, Marvel and Dark Horse. He is the author of PATIENT ZERO, ROT & RUIN, THE NIGHTSIDERS, DEAD OF NIGHT and many novels; and his comics include MARVEL ZOMBIES RETURN, CAPTAIN AMERICA: HAIL HYDRA, V-WARS and BAD BLOOD. Several of his books are in development for TV and film. Jonathan survived his father’s domestic abuse and went on to spend twenty years teaching women, kids, and other at-risk groups self-defence. His message to men and boys everywhere: “We all talk about how to be tough, how to be strong. But being tough also means being fair and being tough means having the courage to do the right thing. And I want to speak to my fellow men out there – the tough guys out there – you wanna be tough? Stand side by side with women. Don’t be part of the conspiracy of abuse; don’t be part of its culture; don’t hit, don’t hurt, and don’t turn a blind eye.” Check out Jonathan’s Read For Pixels Google Hangout here.

Authors Against VAW 8: Kami Garcia

KamiGarcia_croppedKami Garcia is the #1 New York Times bestselling coauthor of the BEAUTIFUL CREATURES and DANGEROUS CREATURES novels & the author of the instant New York Times bestseller and Bram Stoker Award nominated novel UNBREAKABLE, and the sequel UNMARKED, in the LEGION series. BEAUTIFUL CREATURES has been published in 50 countries and translated in 39 languages. The film adaptation of Beautiful Creatures released in theaters in 2013, from Warner Brothers. When asked why she supports stopping VAW, she said: “Violence against women in the world, the fact that it is so acceptable, is so terrifying. […] I think that every single woman, every single girl, every single person has the right to feel safe.”

Authors Against VAW 9: Kate Elliott

Kate Elliott has been writing stories since she was nine years old. Her twenty-four science fiction and fantasy books include COLD MAGIC, SPIRIT GATE, KING’S DRAGON, JARAN, and her YA debut COURT OF FIVES. A new epic fantasy, BLACK WOLVES, which was published in November 2015. When speaking to The Pixel Project about how authors can help stop VAW, she said: “I think that [authors] can support organisations that are doing the work on the ground, we can think about these things when we write fiction. […] As writers, we can think about how that influences the kind of story we want to tell and how we want to portray society. Often [rape] is portrayed in a way that [the reader] is taking the perspective of the person inflicting violence […] We can choose what perspective we take. I think that is a really crucial part of fighting violence against women – bringing about a change in perspective so that we can hope to end it.”

Authors Against VAW 10: Kimberly Derting

Kimberly Derting_compressedKimberly Derting is the author of the award-winning THE BODY FINDER series, THE PLEDGE trilogy, and THE TAKING and THE REPLACED (the first two books in THE TAKING trilogy). Her books have been translated into 15 languages, and both THE BODY FINDER and THE PLEDGE were YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults selections. Kimberly is a survivor of childhood sexual assault and she said: “As an author […] I think it’s important to write unhealthy people and unhealthy relationships in the sense that I think it makes conversations start. I think if everyone just wrote happy stories that were pure and fun and everybody was healthy then there wouldn’t be a lot of conversation. I think talking about things…is what makes people start to come forward. I think a lot of issue books…are what make conversations start and actually a lot of kids will step forward because of those books. And those are not healthy relationships.”

Authors Against VAW 11: Leigh Bardugo

Leigh Bardugo credit Taili Song Roth_croppedLeigh Bardugo is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the GRISHA Trilogy: SHADOW AND BONE, SIEGE AND STORM, and RUIN AND RISING. She was born in Jerusalem, grew up in Los Angeles, and graduated from Yale University, and has worked in advertising, journalism, and most recently, makeup and special effects. When chatting to The Pixel Project about solutions for stopping VAW, Leigh said: “For me, the most effective thing you can do is take what you are seeing or feeling online and actually go out and do something. It’s actually not that hard to be involved in something […] I think sometimes one of the problems with social media is that if we want to tune out an uncomfortable message, we can. But we need to be uncomfortable. So if you have a platform to give other people it may be the best thing you can do.”

Authors Against VAW 12: Marie Lu

Marie Lu_compressedMarie Lu writes young adult novels such as the LEGEND series and has a special love for dystopian books. Ironically, she was born in 1984. Before she became a full-time writer, she was an artist in the video game industry. She graduated from the University of Southern California in ’06 and currently lives in Los Angeles. During her Read For Pixels Google Hangout, Marie talked to The Pixel Project about everything from role models to #Gamergate. She said: “We all are either women, or we know, we have mothers, and daughters, and sisters. We all know someone who has been affected by violence against women. So, this is a very personal issue. I can’t imagine not being affected by this message and not being a part of it.”

Authors Against VAW 13: Rick Yancey

Rick Yancey_croppedRick Yancey is the author of fifteen novels and a memoir. His books have been published in over thirty languages and have earned numerous accolades and awards from around the world. In 2010, Rick received a Michael L. Printz Honour for THE MONSTRUMOLOGIST. His latest novel, THE 5th WAVE, the first in an epic sci-fi trilogy, made its worldwide debut in 2013, and will soon be a major motion picture for GK Films and Sony Pictures.On the subject of role modelling healthy relationships for his 3 sons, he said: “It’s one of those obvious truths that probably should be said again – that a young male’s first exposure to a male-female relationship and how that looks is obviously between their parents. […] You better be careful how you’re treating each other because your sons are watching and you might not think you’re having an effect but you are.”

Authors Against VAW 14: Scott Sigler

New York Times best-selling author Scott Sigler is the creator of fifteen novels, six novellas and dozens of short stories. In 2005, Scott built a large online following by releasing his audiobooks as serialised podcasts. Scott is the co-founder of Empty Set Entertainment, which publishes his Galactic Football League YA series. When asked why he supports The Pixel Project, he said: “I don’t commit violence on women or children, and there’s a natural default in your head that says everybody is like that, that it’s just a few outliers who aren’t like that. But the more you look around the more you realise that’s not really the case. […] A group like yours, [is] able to contribute to somebody who trying to get their voice out there and make people aware of what’s going on – like the crisis hotlines that you always tweet out – before I saw those tweets it never even crossed my mind that people would not know where to go for help. So that’s why I’ve been supportive of it. Making people more aware of what’s going on is a good thing.”

Authors Against VAW 15: Tad Williams

Tad Williams 2012_croppedTad Williams is an international best-selling author of fantasy and science fiction. Since 1985, he has written 20 novels and 3 story collections, and his work has been translated into more than twenty languages. Tad’s stories have earned critical acclaim and are immensely popular with both fantasy and science fiction readers worldwide. Tad’s first novel, TAILCHASER’S SONG, is soon to be a CG-animated feature film from Animetropolis and IDA.  When discussing how he role models healthy relationships and respect for women and girls to his son, Tad said: “I have always done my conscious best to treat my wife […] as my equal partner […] and I have always tried to model that for my kids as much as possible. My son […] has the culture around him and a family and community that says ‘women and men – there is no difference in terms of value.’”

Authors Against VAW 16: Yasmine Galenorn

yg12-2014a_webYasmine Galenorn is the New York Times, USA TODAY, and Publisher’s Weekly bestselling author of the Otherworld series, , the upcoming spin-off series in the Otherworld altaverse–the Fly By Night series, and the upcoming Whisper Hollow paranormal romance/suspense series. In April 2012, she won a Career Achievement Award in Urban Fantasy at the Romantic Times Convention. During her Read For Pixels Google Hangout, Yasmine, who is a rape and abuse survivor, told The Pixel Project that authors can help the effort to stop VAW  “by not being afraid to speak out. […] violence against women is something that is so inherent, so much a part of my background in terms of being a survivors of it, how can I not speak out about it? And if some people get upset about it – too bad.”

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Photo credits

  • Charlaine Harris – Photo courtesy of Charlaine Harris and Ace/Roc/DAW Books. Photographer: Sigrid Estrada.
  • Diane Chamberlain – Photo courtesy of Diane Chamberlain
  • Jane Green – Photo courtesy of Jane Green. 
  • Jaye Wells – Photo courtesy of Jaye Wells
  • Jennifer L. Armentrout – Photo courtesy of Jennifer L. Armentrout
  • Jim C. Hines – Photo courtesy of Jim C. Hines
  • Jonathan Maberry – Photo courtesy of Jonathan Maberry
  • Kami Garcia – Photo courtesy of Kami Garcia. Photographer: Vanya Stoyanova
  • Kate Elliott – Photo courtesy of Kate Elliott
  • Kimberly Derting – Photo courtesy of Kimberly Derting
  • Leigh Bardugo – Photo courtesy of Leigh Bardugo. Photographer: Taili Song Roth
  • Marie Lu – Photo courtesy of Marie Lu
  • Rick Yancey – Photo courtesy of Rick Yancey
  • Scott Sigler – Photo courtesy of Scott Sigler and A Kovacs. Photographer: Joan Allen
  • Tad Williams – Photo courtesy of Tad Williams and Ace/Roc/DAW Books. Photographer: Deborah Beale
  • Yasmine Galenorn – Photo courtesy of Yasmine Galenorn

The Pixel Project Selection 2015: 16 Songs About Violence Against Women (and Staying Strong and Positive)

Girl-Playing-Piano-1-198x300Music can help us transcend our pain in a way that not many other art forms are able to.  Music makes us feel less alone in our struggles because it often expresses how we feel in ways we cannot articulate.  The Pixel Project believes in the power of music to heal, inspire, and send a strong message about violence against women. This is reflected in our ongoing Music For Pixels campaign through which we collaborate with various artistes around the world. This past summer, we held The Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert, a 12-hour music marathon concert on Google Hangout which featured 23 artists from 5 countries.

This year’s 16 selections of Songs About Violence Against Women and Staying Strong and Positive, are from different genres and decades to ensure that everyone can find a track to be inspired by.  And if our list fails to inspire, it is our sincere hope that you find the soundtrack to your life none the less, as everyone needs a set of songs they can relate to in times of adversity.

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

Written and compiled by Samantha Carroll

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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Song Selection Number One: Anthem – Leonard Cohen

“There is a crack in everything / That’s how the light gets in.” Be unwavering in your conviction that everything will be all right and accept that perfection doesn’t exist – this is what Cohen is telling us with Anthem, a song that is as timeless as it is profound.

Song Selection Number 2: Black Eyes, Blue Tears – Shania Twain

With lyrics like “Definitely found my self-esteem / Finally I’m forever free to dream / No more cryin’ in the corner / No excuses no more bruises”, Canadian Country-Pop superstar Shania Twain’s Black Eyes, Blue Tears is a track that every survivor can rock out to, it’s a fierce and contains an authoritative NO! to abuse.

Song Selection Number 3: Extraordinary Machine – Fiona Apple

When Fiona Apple croons: “Be kind to me, or treat me mean / I’ll make the most of it, I’m an extraordinary machine”, she isn’t saying that she’ll take cruelty on the chin, she’s stating that she’s (to quote Marianne Williamson) powerful beyond measure.  It is only with an attitude of pure tenacity that we can rise up after a devastating fall.

Song Selection Number 4: Fight Song – Rachel Platten

We all have what Platten calls “wrecking balls” inside our heads.  This is especially true for anyone who has faced abuse and has had to deal with diminished self-esteem as a result.  Fight Song could be a metaphor for whatever it is that helps us recover and gives us hope and strength to bravely face another day.

Song Selection Number 5: His Daughter – Molly Kate Kestner

Kestner’s His Daughter is a heart-breaking ballad about a young girl who witnesses the unhealthy, abusive relationship of her parents and how it shapes the rest of her life. Children – particularly young girls – who have grown up in an environment where they have been subjected to domestic violence will relate to this song.

Song Selection Number 6: Just Because I’m a Woman – Dolly Parton

Country music isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but there’s no denying that it is a great genre for storytelling.  What Dolly Parton has given us with Just Because I’m a Woman is a relatable and candid understanding of what it is like to be a woman in an unequal, gender stereotyped society.  “My mistakes are no worse than yours / just because I’m a woman.”

Song Selection Number 7: Note to Self – Jake Bugg

Here’s an idea that many women may well be able to relate : as women, we sometimes forget how much we’re capable of, or we never learnt what we were capable of. Jake Bugg has a novel idea: write a note to yourself, say the things to yourself that you’ve always wanted to hear someone else say to or about you.  Bugg’s Note to Self reminds us that we need to be self-compassionate.

Song Selection Number 8: Salute – Little Mix

This track is a wonderful call to solidarity amongst women.  There is strength in supportive sisterhoods and Little Mix captures that perfectly when they sing: “Representing all the women, Salute!”  Little Mix’s audience is primarily young girls and what better a message to spread than one of female empowerment.

Song Selection Number 9: Sister – Andrew Belle

Andrew Belle’s Sister is about the way a sibling tries to understand the abuse hia sister is going through.  “He tried to kill you / and you allow it.”  The sibling sees all sorts of amazing qualities in her sister and can’t quite wrap her head around why or how she ended up in such a hostile situation.  Many survivors of abuse feel at some point that everyone deems them ‘stupid’ for being with an abusive partner.  Sometimes we forget that there are people in our lives, like the sibling in Belle’s song, who hold us in high esteem.

 Song Selection Number 10: Til It Happens to You – Lady Gaga

[TRIGGER WARNING: May be distressing to survivors of rape and sexual assault] Written by Gaga and Diane Warren for the documentary The Hunting Ground, which turns the spotlight on rape on college campuses in the U.S., Til It Happen to You is a raw and emotionally charged ballad.  The music video – directed by Catherine Hardwicke – is harrowing and intentionally provocative but drives home the reality of young women being assaulted and intimidated in educational environments.

Song Selection Number 11: Unpretty – TLC

Through TLC’s anthem Unpretty, we get to understand how a boyfriend or spouse can coerce us into believing we have physical flaws that need correcting.  The pressure of it all can leave us with little to no self-esteem.  “My outsides look cool / My insides are blue / Every time I think I’m through / It’s because of you”.

Song Selection Number 12: Welcome to My Truth – Anastacia

“Through it all / I’ve hit about a million walls / Welcome to my truth, I still love” Compassion is how we heal and learning to love again is part of that process.  The love that powerhouse Pop artiste Anastacia refers to in this song isn’t one of a romantic nature, it is a love steeped in empathy and benevolence.  Don’t let your abuser sully all that is still beautiful and sacred to you.

Song Selection Number 13: What it feels like for a Girl – Madonna

Madonna addresses misogyny and the stereotypical roles women are meant to play in society and focuses on the skewed notion that femininity or possessing feminine qualities, makes a person weak.  What it feels like for a Girl opens with dialogue by the character Julie, from the film The Cement Garden: “Girls can wear jeans and cut their hair short, wear shirts and boots. ‘Cause it’s OK to be a boy. But for a boy to look like a girl is degrading. ‘Cause you think that being a girl is degrading. But secretly you’d love to know what it’s like… Wouldn’t you? What it feels like for a girl.”

Song Selection Number 14: Whole Damn Year – Mary J. Blige

What happens to your relationship with men when you have been violated by a man?  Can you enter into a romantic relationship with a man again and will you ever be able to trust that he won’t abuse you?  These are the themes of Mary J. Blige’s Whole Damn Year.  “Gon’ take a long, long year for me to trust somebody.”

Song Selection Number 15: Yesterday is Gone (My Dear Kay) – Lenny Kravitz 

In Yesterday is Gone, Kravitz addresses a woman named ‘Kay’.  While we, the listeners, may not know who Kay is or what predicament she is in, the encouragement and wisdom the lyrics express is inspiring. “You can’t get nowhere / Staying at home and crying / You can’t go on living in the past / The one thing constant is that there is always change”

Song Selection Number 16: Young Hearts Run Free – Candi Staton

In 1976, Staton delivered this message of autonomy, and we’re still dancing to it today.  This song was written after Staton come through an abusive relationship herself and is a bold anthem about free love and independence. “I’m gonna love me, for the rest of my days / Encourage the babies every time they say / “Self-preservation is what’s really going on today””

The Pixel Project Selection 2015: 16 Notable Anti-VAW Activists and Organisations You Should Follow on Twitter

twitter1-300x225Twitter has quickly become a reliable news source for many individuals.  It offers a real-time view and perspective of what is occurring both elsewhere and in our own communities, enabling us to become more aware of social issues like violence against women and join discussions to become more involved with these causes.

Twitter allows us to share information, a tool to help us better our world through understanding, and create an atmosphere of solidarity worldwide. Being able to look up a hashtag – #vaw for example – in order to find news sources, helplines, or other activists is a simple yet incredibly useful way to become involved.

With that in mind, The Pixel Project presents our 2015 Twitter selection of 16 organisations and individuals leveraging Twitter in the cause to end violence against women. These are groups and people who will keep you informed simply because they share the passion to create a better tomorrow for girls and women everywhere.

Written and compiled by: Rebecca DeLuca

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 


Twitter Follow Recommendation #1: The A21 Campaign (@A21) – Global

A21 LogoThe A21 Campaign’s mission is to end human trafficking in the 21st century. A21 follows a “4 P model,” focusing on prevention, protection, partnerships and prosecution. Working in over 21 countries, A21 has offices in Greece, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Great Britain, Norway, Thailand and more. Followers of the A21 Twitter Page have the opportunity to follow real updates, lobbying efforts and number of rescues as they occur.

Twitter Follow Recommendation #2: Alexandra Pham (@DaughtersRising) – Thailand

AlexandraPhamAlexandra Pham is the founder of Daughters Rising, a nonprof0it organisation fighting sex trafficking by empowering and educating at-risk girls. Alexandra and her team created the RISE workshops to teach girls real world skills, including computer skills, women’s health and more. Pham also founded Chai Lai Orchid where she runs training and educational programming.

Twitter Follow Recommendation #3: AWID (@awid) – Global

AWID LogoThe Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) is an global, feminist, membership organisation committed to women’s human rights. AWID works with various organisations to create a collective voice against gender injustice. The multilingual AWID Twitter page shares news on global, national and local levels and provides timely and accurate information for activists to use in their own programs and projects.

Twitter Follow Recommendation #4: Chime for Change (@ChimeForChange) – Global

CHIME-FOR-CHANGE-LogoChime for Change is a global campaign raising awareness and funds for girls and women around the world, ensuring accessibility of education, health and justice. The organisation uses creative projects and programmes to achieve their goals, including short documentary films, global concerts and more. The Chime for Change Twitter page updates followers on over 409 projects across 86 countries. Following the hashtag #ChimeIn allows followers to interact with the organisation and give their opinions and thoughts on different programs, news, and events.

Twitter Follow Recommendation #5: Feminist Frequency (@femfreq) – United States of America

Feminist Frequency LogoCreated by media critic Anita Sarkeesian, Feminist Frequency is a video web series that discusses the portrayals of women in pop culture narratives. The videos serve as an educational resource and encourage creators to improve the representations of women in their work. Sarkeesian focuses many of her online discussions on the stereotypes and harassment of women in online and gaming spaces. She received the 2015 Game Developers Choice Ambassador Award, was nominated for Microsoft’s 2014 Women in Games Ambassador Award, and is a judge for the Games for Change Awards.

Twitter Follow Recommendation #6: He for She (@HeForShe) – Global

he-for-she-logoHe for She is a movement founded by the United Nations, and supported by big names such as Emma Watson, President Obama, Matt Damon, Ban Ki-moon and more. The He for She movement brings together men and women in support of equality for women. Supporters take action against gender discrimination and violence and understand that equality benefits everyone.

Twitter Follow Recommendation #7: Its on Us (@ItsOnUs) – United States of America

ItsOnUs LogoFounded by Generation Progress and the White House, the It’s on Us Campaign aims to change the culture around sexual assault on campuses across the United States. The organisation provides resources to recognise, identify, and intervene in sexual assault, and develop a safe environment to support survivors. The It’s on Us Twitter page provides important news, legal updates and information on campus sexual assaults, keeps its followers updated on events through live-tweeting, and retweets videos and programmes from colleges and universities supporting following It’s On Us initiative.

Twitter Follow Recommendation #8: Konbit Sante (KonbitSante) – Haiti

KonbitSanteKonbit Sante’s mission is to create lasting change in Haitian healthcare. The organisation believes in promoting the empowerment of people to meet their own needs. Of their many clinical initiatives, Konbit Sante focuses on women’s health and works to improve maternal outcomes in Cap-Haitien. In Haiti, more women die in pregnancy and childbirth than any other country in the Western Hemisphere. Additionally, Konbit Sante works to improve emergency response time at the regional referral hospital and provides education and outreach at the community level.

Twitter Follow Recommendation #9: Män för Jämställdhet (@ManForJamst) – Sweden

ManMän för Jämställdhet, translated to Men for Gender Equality, is a Swedish organisation engaging men and boys in violence prevention. Operating on a local, national and Global level, Män för Jämställdhet fights masculine stereotypes and aims to reform them to support women’s health and rights. Follow Män för Jämställdhet on Twitter for receive updates on their various programmes, including Machofabriken (The Macho Factory) or Killfrågor.se (BoysQuestions.com).

Twitter Follow Recommendation #10: Refuge (@RefugeCharity) United Kingdom

RefugeRefuge is a provider of specialist services for women and children escaping domestic violence. Through provision, protection and prevention, Refuge empowers women and children to rebuild their lives, free from violence and fear. Leading the charge against domestic violence since 1971, Refuge funds and plans campaigns, participates in lobbying efforts, publishes information on the effects of domestic violence, trains staff of various organisations and respond to individual needs. The multi-lingual Twitter page is a resource for news on supporting survivors, ending domestic violence, and more and is staffed Monday through Friday.

Twitter Follow Recommendation #11: Safe Delhi Campaign (@JagoriSafeDelhi) – India

safedelhihomepagelogoInspired by the many noninclusive changes of Delhi’s infrastructure, the Safe Delhi Campaign was founded in 2004. The campaign focuses on women’s rights to participate in city life and their right to be guaranteed an equal opportunity to use public spaces. Members of the Safe Delhi Campaign partner with citizen groups, create and promote public awareness campaigns, and conduct safety audits in commercial, residential and educational areas across the city to identify unsafe issues. The Safe Delhi Campaign programming fights poor urban infrastructure, lack of apathy on public transportation, and other ideas and beliefs about appropriate behavior.

Twitter Follow Recommendation #12: Speak Up for the Poor (@SpeakUp4ThePoor) – Bangladesh

SpeakUpForthePoorSpeak Up for the Poor is an organisation that works to create safe homes for girls born into brothels, rescued from human trafficking, or at risk of exploitation. It also runs an educational program and investigates and handles cases of abuse against girls. Those following the Speak Up for the Poor Twitter account will not only receive updates on programmes and successes in Bangladesh, but also worldwide.

Twitter Follow Recommendation #13: Together for Girls (@together4girls) – United States of America

Together For GirlsTogether for Girls is dedicated to ending violence against children, with a focus on sexual violence against girls. Together for Girls also publishes Safe, the first magazine on violence against children. The yearly magazine shares stories of survivors and highlights various individuals, activists, organisations, and communities who are working to protect children.

Twitter Follow Recommendation #14: UN Trust Fund To End Violence Against Women (@UNTrustFundEVAW) – Global

UNTrustFundThe UN Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women is committed to ending all forms of violence against women and girls. The UN Trust Fund is a grant-making mechanism that works with various global and local organisations. The organisation’s Twitter page shares global news and updates from its various partners, including news from Mongolia, South Africa, Asia and more. The UN Trust Fund empowers groups and communities to take part in prevention efforts, provides services to survivors, and lobbies for legal changes.

Twitter Follow Recommendation #15: Womens Link (@womenslink) Spain and Colombia

WomensLinkWomen’s Link’s bilingual Twitter page provides important legal updates, statistics and reports in English and Spanish to support gender equality around the world. An Global Human Health Risk Research (HHRR) organisation, Women’s Link uses the power of the law to create change in various ares, including gender justice, human trafficking, global gender crimes, global discrimination, migrant women rights and sexual and reproductive rights.

Twitter Follow Recommendation #16: Women Thrive (@WomenThrive) – Global

WomenThriveWorldwideWomen Thrive is an American lobbying organisation bringing the voice of global women directly to Washington, DC. Advocating for change on a national and global level, Women Thrive looks at women and poverty in Africa, education for girls, economic opportunity and poverty, violence against women and girls, women and world hunger, women, global assistance and more. The Women Thrive twitter page provides an inside look at important conferences, programs, and legal updates by sharing resources and live-tweeting events such as the #Gender360Summit.

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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