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.

The Pixel Project Selection 2016: 16 Songs About Violence Against Women (and Staying Strong and Positive)

Girl Playing Piano 1Music empowers, entertains, and helps listeners transcend pain. One song can bring its listeners together by expressing feelings and emotions that many are unable to 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 Music For Pixels campaign through which we collaborate with various artistes around the world.

For 2016, our selection spans 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 nonetheless, 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 Rebecca Dean

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Song Number 1: Church Bells – Carrie Underwood

Carrie Underwood’s “Church Bells” follows the story of a woman, Jenny, who fights her way out of an abusive relationship. Jenny starts as a free spirit, who meets and marries a wealthy man, who turns out to be abusive. By the end of the song, Jenny fights back, escaping the relationship in any way she can. 

 

Song Number 2: Control – Janet Jackson

In “Control”, Janet Jackson solidifies her control over her words, actions and life. Control is an anthem for the independent woman. “Got my own mind / I wanna make my own decisions / When it has to do with my life / I wanna be the one in control.” 

 

Song Number 3: Family Portrait – P!nk

In “Family Portrait”, P!nk is a child growing up in an abusive household. She pleads with her parents “I’ll be so much better, I’ll do everything right / I’ll be your little girl forever / I’ll go to sleep at night,” believing the anger and fighting is her fault.  

 

Song Number 4: Fight Like a Girl – Kalie Shorr

Kalie Shorr’s “Fight Like a Girl” is a female empowerment anthem taking back what it means to do things “like a girl.” Whereas in modern society “like a girl” is used as an insult, Shorr shows that being a girl is what makes her unstoppable. “You say I canʼt, well darling watch me / You canʼt stop me / Cause I fight like a girl”  

 

Song Number 5: Follow your Arrow – Kacey Musgraves

Kacey Musgraves’ “Follow your Arrow” is an anthem for women to be true to themselves – despite what limits society puts on them. Musgraves begins the song by criticising society’s stereotypes of women, with lyrics like “If you save yourself for marriage / you’re a bore / If you don’t save yourself for marriage / you’re a whore-able person.” Musgraves then encourages women to follow their heart and make themselves happy, no matter which path it takes them down. 

 

Song Number 6: How Come, How Long – Baby Face and Stevie Wonder

 In “How Come, How Long”, Baby Face and Stevie Wonder speak to bystanders of abusive relationships. The protagonist of this story “tried to give a cry for help”, but those around her made excuses – “nothing was wrong as far as we could tell / That’s what we’d like to tell ourselves.” In the end, the woman was killed by her abuser. The song ends with the singers encouraging everybody to “look for the signs” in order to potentially save a life.  

 

Song Number 7: I Get Out – Lauryn Hill

 In “I Get Out,” singer/songwriter Lauryn Hill sings about breaking free of the chains of an abusive relationship. Once forced to compromise, Hill recognises the cycle of abuse and is determined to be free. “You say “love” then abuse me / You never thought you’d lose me / … / Cause now I’m choosin’ life, yo / … / That’s how I choose to live.” 

 

Song Number 8: I’m Coming Out – Diana Ross

In “I’m Coming Out”, Diana Ross sings about being unapologetically true to herself. She encourages the listener to be confident in their personalities and be proud of the person they are. 

 

Song Number 9: Just a Girl – No Doubt

Inspired by her family’s overprotective nature because she is a woman, “Just a Girl” was written by Gwen Stefani in 1995. “Just a Girl” is a satirical take on the limitations placed on women and girls because of their genders. Stefani uses lyrics such as “‘Well don’t let me out of your sight / Oh, I’m just a girl, all pretty and petite” to exemplify the negative stereotypes placed on women in today’s society.  

 

Song Number 10: Love Me – Katy Perry

Katy Perry’s “Love Me” is an empowering song for those struggling with insecurities, especially when in a romantic relationship. Here, Perry realises that loving herself is necessary in order to maintain a happy, healthy relationship. “So now, I don’t negotiate with insecurities / They’re gonna have to take a back seat / I know I have to love myself, the way I want you to love me”  

 

Song Number 11: Not To Blame – Joni Mitchell

Joni Mitchell’s “Not to Blame” tells a story of a man who abuses his partner, driving her to suicide, and people’s reactions to the abuse. With powerful lyrics such as “Your buddies all stood by/ They bet their / Fortunes and their fame /That she was out of line /And you were not to blame” Mitchell highlights the victim blaming that still occurs in today’s society. 

 

Song Number 12: Q.U.E.E.N – Janelle Monae

Q.U.E.E.N was described as a “declaration of independence” by Paste Magazine in 2013. With lyrics including “They call us dirty ‘cause we break all your rules down / And we just come to act a fool, is that all right / They be like, ‘Ohh, let them eat cake,” / But we eat wings and throw them bones on the ground” Monae’s Q.U.E.E.N is designed to question society’s stereotypes and expectations of women. 

 

Song Number 13: Remedy – Adele

While Adele’s “Remedy” was written for her son, it is a powerful ballad reminding women to be there for themselves, and for those they care about. The lyrics, including “When the pain cuts you deep / When the night keeps you from sleeping / Just look and you will see / That I will be your remedy” empower women to look inside themselves to find the strength to survive even the harshest of situations.  

 

Song Number 14: Sit Still, Look Pretty – Daya

In this female empowerment anthem about women with their own dreams and goals, Daya sings lyrics such as “This queen don’t need a king” and “this gal right here’s gonna rule the world” After releasing Sit Still, Look Pretty, Daya told Entertainment Weekly “It’s important for young girls to know that they don’t have to act a certain way or depend on someone for happiness. They can find all of that within themselves.”  

 

Song Number 15: The Voice Within – Christina Aguilera

In this empowerment anthem, Christina Aguilera encourages girls to trust themselves in the face of challenges and adversity, just “like your oldest friend, just trust the voice within / Then you’ll find the strength that will guide your way.”  

 

Song Number 16: Where is the Love? – Black Eyed Peas

Where is the Love” confronts the anger, hatred and violence in the world, including topics such as discrimination, gang violence and more. Though written in 2003, the lyrics were rewritten in 2016 to reflect the current state of the world.  

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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Photo credits:

The Pixel Project Selection 2015: 16 films about violence against women

Film-Reel-225x300 (1)In this day and age, film is a particularly effective medium for teaching and learning. This is why, for the past four years, The Pixel Project has been publishing lists of powerful films, documentaries and television shows that seek to inform and educate the public about the worldwide scourge of violence against women, its various forms, and what everyone can do to stop and prevent it.

In recent years, mainstream film has been slowly moving away from traditional sexist portrayals of women and VAW, both following and informing a trend in popular culture to be more respectful and aware of women’s rights. This year’s Mad Max: Fury Road, a blockbuster action film starring Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy, is a shining example of a film that used no gender stereotypes and that ignited lots of discussion on gender roles and portrayals. This is certainly a big step in the direction of gender equality but there is still, of course, much more to be achieved.

This year’s list of films and documentaries portray women and girls from diverse backgrounds who all have one thing in common – they are victims and survivors of violence against women. Though many of them may be difficult to watch because they deal with harrowing subjects in an explicit manner, it is important to watch them because they are portrayals of the truth. We hope that they will inspire you to join us in our quest to end violence against women and to be a catalyst of change in your own community.

Written and compiled by Anushia Kandasivam. Additional selections by Catalina Rembuyan 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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Selection Number 1: A Daughter’s Debt

One of the first films to explore women’s issues among the Hmong people, A Daughter’s Debt follows three generations of Hmong-American women as they talk about cultural practices that include bride purchase, polygamy and marriage by capture, and how these practices affect them in their community in the United States. The film was screened at the recent Cannes Film Festival as part of the Short Film Catalogue.

Selection Number 2: A Handful of Ash

For almost a decade, reporters Nabez Ahmad and Shara Amin shed light into one of the most taboo topics in Kurdish society: female genital mutilation. They took their documentary, A Handful of Ash, which was produced in 2003, to the Kurdish Parliament, allying with a German-Iraqi non-governmental organisation, Wadi. At first, no one paid attention except for a few female politicians. But the film and the campaign was the start of a movement. Three years later, Human Rights Watch released a report on female genital mutilation in Kurdistan. In 2011, female circumcision was outlawed across Iraqi Kurdistan. In 2013, two years after the campaign’s success, The Guardian released a 17-minute condensed version of A Handful of Ash, viewable of their website.

Selection Number 3: After the Rape: The Mukhtar Mai Story

[Trigger warning: This video contains descriptions of rape] Mukhtar Mai is a Pakistani woman from a rural village who was gang-raped on the orders of a local tribal clan as a form of honour revenge in 2002. Mukhtar defied custom to speak up and report the rapes to the authorities. Mukhtar’s bravery and quest for justice ignited a series of events that has led to more awareness of women’s rights in rural Pakistan. Realising that education holds the key to changing society’s mentality, Mukhtar opened two schools for girls in her village as well as a crisis centre for abused women.  The documentary follows the progress of the school and tracks the profound impact that education and access to the crisis centre has empowered women and girls in this rural part of Pakistan.

Selection Number 4: Daughters of Mother India 

In 2012, a young woman was violently gang-raped and murdered in New Delhi. The incident sparked widespread outrage, generating discussion and criticism of India’s long history of gender violence and inequality, precipitating public protests against the state and central governments for what was seen as continued failure to provide security for women in India. Daughters of Mother India documents the response of Indian policy makers and activists to the epidemic of sexual violence in the country. The film has received strong commendations and high praise from viewers both within India and beyond.

Selection Number 5: Forced 

Calgary filmmaker Iman Bukhari wanted to bring to light the fact that forced marriages happen in a first-world nation such as Canada. Her documentary sheds light on the continuing cycle of forced marriages in families and though the film does emphasise that these marriages can happen to any gender, it follows the story of a female victim and features interviews with a mother who forced her daughter into marriage. Bukhari has stated that her intention for Forced is to open a dialogue about forced marriages with the aim of bringing the issue out into the open and helping to end the cycle.

Selection Number 6: GTFO

This documentary is about the pervasive misogyny and abuse of women in the gaming world. It documents not just gamers but also female game designers, developers, programmers and others in the gaming industry who consistently receive abuse for being the ‘wrong’ gender in what is still a boys’ club, as well as the abuse and intimidation of women who speak out against it. Documentary maker Shannon Sun-Higginson was inspired to make the film after watching a clip from a major gaming competition in which a player repeatedly sexually harassed his teammate.

Selection Number 7: Hey…Shorty

Inspired by the now iconic 1998 documentary on street harassment War Zone, this short documentary was created and produced by five interns at Girls for Gender Equity (GGE), an organisation in Brooklyn, New York, committed to the physical, psychological, social, and economic development of girls and women. The filmmakers, who ranged from 15 to 18 years old, spent eight months interviewing young women of colour in their neighbourhood about the impact of street harassment on their life. The documentary also features interviews with several men of colour, both young and old, about their intentions behind the behaviour, and examines the root causes of the phenomenon of the harassment of women in public spaces.

Selection Number 8: It Happened Here

[Trigger warning: description of rape and examples of rape threats] This documentary is about the pervasive and seemingly unstoppable phenomenon of sexual assault on the campuses of American colleges and the apathy and dismissive behaviour of the authorities involved. The film contains personal testimonials of five survivors and reveals their struggles to get justice and the blame they face from those who should be on their side. It also serves as a mouthpiece for these women and others who are speaking out against the institutionalised cover-ups of campus sexual assaults.

Selection Number 9: Out in the Night

This documentary asks the question: Do women have a right to defend themselves against street harassment? The film follows the story of four young African-American lesbian women who were walking through a New York neighbourhood one night in 2006 when they were confronted, harassed and assaulted by an older man. When the man became violent, the four friends fought back to defend themselves. When the police arrived at the scene, the women were arrested. They were subsequently charged with gang assault, assault and attempted murder. The film follows the lives of the women and explores how race, gender, gender identity and sexuality plays a part in violence perpetrated on strangers, especially women. It also discusses how these factors were sensationalised and criminalised by mainstream news media.

Selection Number 10: Provoked

This 2006 film starring Bollywood leading lady Aishwarya Rai tells the story of Kiranjit Ahluwalia, an Indian woman in an arranged marriage who moves to the UK with her husband, and who later kills him after enduring years of abuse. The film follows her trial, incarceration and subsequent appeal in court. In real life, Ahluwalia’s appeal became a landmark case in British law and is still used as precedent today; it changed the legal definition of the word ‘provocation’ in cases of domestic violence so as to reclassify her crime to manslaughter instead of murder. Ahluwalia’s case also created awareness of domestic violence amongst immigrant families in the UK.

Selection Number 11: Rape on the Night Shift

[Trigger warning: Survivor accounts in this video include vivid descriptions of sexual assault.] This documentary, a collaboration between PBS Frontline and The Center for Investigative Reporting at the University of California Berkley, tackles an issue that probably has never been explored in film before: the sexual abuse of immigrant women in the janitorial industry in the United States. The assaults are perpetrated by co-workers, managers, building supervisors or security guards. The film features firsthand accounts from survivors and explores and reveals the dangers and difficulties confronted by these women working in low-paying jobs in deserted buildings at night.

Selection Number 12: Searching for Angela Shelton

In this award-winning documentary, filmmaker Angela Shelton drives around the United States looking for and surveying other women named Angela Shelton. Shelton’s search for other Angela Sheltons started as a simple effort to locate as many women with the same name across the United States as she could. When speaking with the women, she found that about 70% of them were survivors of childhood sexual abuse or other forms of domestic violence. This, coupled with events in her own childhood, when she and her siblings were sexually molested by her father and stepmother, inspired her to make the documentary wherein she interviews the other Angela Sheltons, culminating in her confrontation with her father. Following the documentary, Shelton created a Survival Manual to help survivors of violence heal: www.survivormanual.com

Selection Number 13: Speak

At first glance, this film seems to be a typical teen movie, but it actually deals with a little covered topic – teen sexual assault. The film is told from the perspective of Melinda Sordino (Kristen Stewart), a sardonic teen who starts a new year of high school as a selective mute. She is ostracised by her peers and labelled her a ‘squealer’ as she had called the police to a house party. The truth about why she did this is not revealed until much later when Melinda herself comes to terms with her trauma and finds the courage to speak out. Based on the Laurie Halse Anderson novel of the same name, the film shows how sexual assault can damage a young person’s sense of identity and explores the difficulties victims face in verbalising their trauma and telling a person in authority what happened.

Selection Number 14: The Hunting Ground

The Hunting Ground is a documentary that exposes and discusses rape culture on American university campuses. Aired at the Sundance Film Festival this year, the film sparked strong reactions, gaining almost unanimous praise from critics and a standing ovation from audiences, but also passionate denial and skepticism from some viewers. Inspired by The Invisible War (selection number 15), The Hunting Ground follows Andrea Pino and Annie E. Clark, two survivors of sexual assault on campus who refused to be intimidated or silenced by their respective school administration and became activists on rape culture. A day before the film was released in theatres, the Campus Accountability and Safety Act was re-introduced by a bipartisan group of US Senators accompanied by Pino and Clark.

Selection Number 15: The Invisible War

This award-winning documentary is an investigation into rape and sexual assault within the United States Armed Forces. It features interviews with veterans from various branches of the armed forces, journalists, advocates, mental health professionals and members of the military justice system, among others, and touches on the inadequate care for survivors of sexual assault, failures to address incidences of sexual assault and forced expulsion of survivors from service. The film, which calls for changes to the way the military handles reports of sexual assault, has won numerous awards and has had some influence on government policies aimed at reducing the prevalence of rape in the armed forces.

Selection number 16: The Storm Makers

This Cambodian-French co-production documents human trafficking in Cambodia where most of the victims of human trafficking are young women who are lured with promises of better opportunities abroad. In reality, they are held prisoner and forced to work in horrific conditions, sometimes as prostitutes.This film follows the story of a particular young peasant woman, Aya, who was sold to work in Malaysia aged 16, where she did not receive any salary and was beaten and abused. She returned to her village with a child, the result of rape. It also documents the lives of two powerful traffickers known as ‘Storm Makers’.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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At School

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

At Home and in the Wider Community

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

16 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 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””