16 Ways of Preventing and Intervening in Child Marriages

M For MarriageThe practice of child marriage–matrimony before age 18–continues to disproportionately affect girls in certain cultures and communities with significant consequences to their education, health, and social life. Child brides have little say in when or whom they will marry, have little influence with their husbands and in-laws, have little opportunity to develop awareness of their rights, and are in no position to claim or demand them.

These large age gaps reinforce power differentials between girls and their husbands. Girls who marry before age 18 are more likely to experience violence within marriage than girls who marry later. Girls may lack the power to negotiate safer sex and have little access to information or services to prevent either pregnancy or infection. According to Girls Not Brides, girls under the age of 15 are 5 times more likely than women in their twenties to die during childbirth. Married girls are also more likely to have multiple children in shorter intervals and more likely to become disabled due to pregnancy or childbirth. Stillbirths and deaths during the first week of life are 50 percent higher among babies born to adolescent mothers than among babies born to mothers in their twenties. Children of adolescent mothers are also more likely to be premature and have low birth weight.

Governments are now recognising the importance of addressing child marriage and integrating societal changes to meet the UN Millennium Development goals. Supporting girls in avoiding child marriage, delaying having children, and finishing school brings opportunities for skills and income to eradicate poverty for future generations. Promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women ensures girls get choices as to when they marry and whom. Reducing child/forced marriage will reduce child mortality and disability related to child/teen pregnancy or childbirth. It will also improve maternal health which will reduce vulnerability to HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.

Though the practice of child marriage is rooted in tradition and culture, neither culture nor tradition is immutable and there is hope for change. This list presents 16 ways you can join in the efforts to end the practice of child marriage and influence change to ensure a better future for young girls and boys around the world.

Compiled by Angelique Mulholland with additional research by Regina Yau; Introduction by Carol Olson 


Way to Prevent Child/Forced Marriage #1: Educate Girls 

According to UNICEF, one in three girls in low- to middle-income countries will marry before the age of 18. Many studies have shown that it is more than likely that a girl who marries as a child will come from a community where education for girls is not valued. She will more than likely be illiterate and will have little to no understanding of her human rights. Girls having access to both primary and secondary education will improve their chances of access to employment and a means of supporting themselves and then in turn their families. It is important to reach out to communities and help challenge traditional and discriminatory views on access to education. INSPIRATIONAL EXAMPLE: Tostan, a women’s human rights charity based in Senegal, runs outreach programmes which educate community elders and decision makers about the importance of educating young women.

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Way to Prevent Child/Forced Marriage #2: Empower Girls

In many countries where child marriage is prevalent, girls are often seen as economic burdens. Girls in households where boys are favoured often have low self-esteem and little confidence. Dr Ashok Dyalchand, who works at the Institute of Health Management, Pachod (IHMP) in India, has conducted a research project on teenage girls living in rural areas of India. Using the Rosenberg scale, he measured the self-esteem of young girls and found that the lower the self-esteem, the higher the risk of child marriage. Dr. Dyalchan found that empowerment programmes for young girls are key to preventing child or early marriage by improving both their sense of self and self-efficacy through informing girls of their basic human rights, their legal right to refuse a marriage, and education programmes on health and sex education. Small scale studies have shown promising results from his programmes that make girl empowerment its central strategy –  the mean age of marriage of 14.5 years old has risen to 17 years old.

Way to Prevent Child/Forced Marriage #3: Educate Parents 

Some parents from traditional communities believe that child marriage is a way of protecting their daughter: providing for her economically so she will be taken care of; safeguarding her from harassment and sexual violence before she reaches puberty, and preventing premarital sex which is still taboo in many countries across the world. Unfortunately, families often do not know the negative and harmful effects of early child marriage, including pregnancy at such a young age which can lead to many complications as a girl’s body will not be ready for childbirth. Such parents will benefit from being educated on the very serious harmful effects of forced early childhood marriage. INSPIRATIONAL EXAMPLE: In Zambia, Chief Nzamane of the Mfumbeni tribe works with THE parents of girls who are at risk of being sold for lucrative dowries. He understands the financial pressures on families and finds way to help them stay financially secure without needing to force their daughters, in his words, into “lifelong trauma.”

Way to Prevent Child/Forced Marriage #4: Mobilise religious leaders and community elders

Religious elders and community leaders – nearly always men – are the decision makers in communities where early or child marriage is prevalent. Engaging and educating these powerful men is key to changing the attitude of a community on childhood marriage. INSPIRATIONAL EXAMPLE: Tostan’s Community Empowerment Programme focuses on engaging local elders and religious leaders and educating them on the harmful effects of traditions such as child marriage on communities as a whole. Once they are knowledgeable, Tostan will hold educational sessions with the whole village including the parents of high-risk girls and the girls themselves. As a result of these sessions, throughout Senegal villages have declared an end to some harmful practices including child marriage.

Way to Prevent Child/Forced Marriage #5: Support Adolescent Girls Who Are Already Married

Although the focus is on communities preventing child marriage, young girls who have already married also need support. As well as being isolated and having less chance to complete or continue their education, child marriage can put young girls at a higher risk of violence in the home- sexually, physically and psychologically. INSPIRATIONAL EXAMPLE: CARE has run a successful project in Ethiopia which has focused on supporting child brides. The TESFA project (meaning “Hope” in Amharic) focuses on educating child brides of their rights and providing them education on their reproductive rights, contraception and healthcare. The holistic approach giving all members of the community a chance to discuss the benefits of supporting child brides and the best ways in which to do it, has resulted in some very encouraging results over a three-year period.

Way to Prevent Child/Forced Marriage #6: Support Legislation Against Child Marriage

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One of the most powerful tools that anti-child marriage organisations and women’s rights activists and advocates have been campaigning for is for governments in countries such as Yemen where child marriage is prevalent to make child marriage illegal by raising the legal age of marriage to the minimum age of 18. If you live in one of these countries or communities, start supporting efforts to get such legislation passed by supporting the efforts of these organisations and activists including participating in community campaigning activities organised by them such as petitions and demonstrations. Where there are such legislations and laws in force but have trouble gaining traction over entrenched traditions, help prevent child marriage by notifying the relevant authorities or agencies about any child marriage may be taking place in your neighbourhood or community. Ditto if you live in countries with large immigrant communities that practise child marriage.

Way to Prevent Child/Forced Marriage #7: Advocate for Women as Community Leaders

In many communities that practise child marriage, women are often kept out of the decision-making processes and are not allowed a voice in local politics. It is vital that women are able to voice their concerns and advocate for women’s rights in all spheres as this is often what accelerates the elimination of harmful traditions such as child marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM). INSPIRATIONAL EXAMPLE: Tostan trains women in leadership skills and advocacy. 80% of their Community Management Committees are coordinated by women and this gives them the vital skills and confidence needed to engage in local community meetings. As a result more and more women throughout Senegal and other areas where Tostan works are being seen, heard, and having a positive impact throughout local communities.

Way to Prevent Child/Forced Marriage #8: Provide Relevant Economic Support 

Inter-generational poverty is often the most prevalent reason cited for forcing girls into early marriage. Families may know about the harmful effects of child marriage, but may be forced to marry off their daughters as the dowry payment from the marriage of an older sister might be essential in ensure the survival of younger children. Providing economic support to families may be a way of helping parents who do not want to their daughters to get married early. INSPIRATIONAL EXAMPLE: The Berwan Hewane project in Ethiopia found that providing a family with a goat or a sheep for refusing to marry off an underaged daughter helped parents stand firm on that decision. In certain cultures and communities, this provision of livestock can mean the difference in the survival and longevity of a family; providing this much-needed resource to a family trapped by poverty gives them more options, including refusing to marry off underaged daughters.

Way to Prevent Child/Forced Marriage #9: Get Informed and Take Action

If this is the first time you have become aware about child marriage, one of the first steps you need take is to understand the issue do more research and learn about the human cost of this harmful practice as there are painful consequences of child marriage. Get informed and knowledgeable on the subject, then proceed with learning more about international, governmental, and grassroots efforts in your community and worldwide that are focused on the prevention and intervention in child marriage. Then, armed with that information and knowledge, decide how you can best support their efforts with your resources and skills, then reach out to the relevant activists and organisations and start taking action.

Way to Prevent Child/Forced Marriage #10: Talk about it

As with the wider human rights issue of Violence Against Women, child marriage is still a taboo subject; talking about it will help to educate societies across the globe about the harmful effects of child marriage. Many people, particularly in Western countries, are hesitant to criticise cultural practices as they are worried they will be perceived as racist or xenophobic. Standing up for the human rights of children should never be perceived as a negative act. Talk about it with your family and friends, share information on your social media forums and be passionate about ending child marriage today.

Way to Prevent Child/Forced Marriage #11: Men and Boys – Please Speak Out!

Like in every area of ending violence against women, men and boys are central to challenging gender norms and changing deeply entrenched traditional practices like child marriage. There would be no child marriage if men in affected communities did not choose to marry children. It is therefore vital that men are educated on the rights of girls and how early marriage can be harmful to her health and happiness and destructive to the family unit. We need men everywhere to speak out against discrimination and violence towards women and girls. INSPIRATIONAL EXAMPLE: In Morocco, a Maths teacher named Mohammed Baddi runs educational projects with Fondation YTTO, a Moroccan women’s rights organisation in the Amazir communities based in the Atlas mountains. He teaches young girls that; they can achieve more than the wife/mother status society affords them: “They are not machines, just meant to sew or to bear children.”

Way to Prevent Child/Forced Marriage #12: Take A Pledge

On 22 July 2014 something extraordinary happened: In a school in South London, UK, David Cameron, Malala Yousafzai, and hundreds of development professionals and representatives around the world pledged to end Early, Child or Forced Marriage (ECFM) and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) as part of The Girl Summit. 700 million other people did so too. The Girl Summit, co-hosted by UNICEF, is the first initiative of its kind that aims to accelerate and mobilise efforts to end FGM and ECFM within a generation. You can make your pledge here and add your voice to the chorus of millions by Facebook or Twitter. Do it today!

Way to Prevent Child/Forced Marriage #13: Sponsor a Girl Child

Sponsoring a child in a developing country has been a longstanding way for donors around the world to support underprivileged and vulnerabble communities in order to break the cycle of  violence, poverty, and illiteracy. Donating a small amount of money each month to a child with charities like Plan International can help girls who are vulnerable to child marriage. Education is one of the greatest preventatives of child marriage and studies have proven that the longer a girl stays in school, the less likely she is to marry or become an underaged mother. In some developing countries education is not free and families cannot afford to send their child to school and if they do, male children are given priority. By sponsoring a girl child each month you can help pay for their school fees and help her get the education she needs to avoid child marriage and to map her own path in life.

Way to Prevent Child/Forced Marriage #14: Support Anti-Child Marriage charities and organisations 

There are many amazing charities which are implementing some incredible campaigns to put an end to child marriage with encouraging results. Why not support them? Grassroots projects often desperately need support to keep going and your time or money can truly make a difference. To start you off, here are three major grassroots organisations working tirelessly every day to put an end to child marriage: Girls Not BridesSaarthi Trust and Tostan. If you would like to find out more about other charities working to end child marriage, our 2013 16 for 16 article that lists out 16 prominent anti-child marriage nonprofits and charities is a good starting point.

Way to Prevent Child/Forced Marriage #15: Support Obstetric Fistula campaigns and organisations

Fistula is a common problem for adolescent girls giving birth for the first time. A fistula can occur during an obstructed labour, often when access to emergency care is unavailable or limited. Obstructed labour is an agonising process and girls/women often struggle in pain until the baby dies in the birthing canal. There is often a loss of circulation that causes tissue to die, leaving large gaps between the birth canal and bladder or rectum, causing incontinence. This is not only painful for new mothers, but it can also cause social isolation and acute psychological distress. According to Freedom from Fistula Foundation, an estimated 2 million women in Africa suffer silently with an obstetric fistula. Supporting this charity and others doing similar work in the field is a natural first step in helping many victims of child marriage from the maternal healthcare approach.

Way to Prevent Child/Forced Marriage #16: Support Artists, Photographers, and Journalists who Raise Awareness About Child Marriage

Raising awareness about the issue is vital because child marriage has been hidden away for centuries and needs to be publicly addressed by the community in order to end the daily suffering of adolescent girls and the continual violation of their human rights. One way of doing so is to support and share the work of journalists, artists, photographers and activists to help raise the plight of child brides. INSPIRATIONAL EXAMPLE: Stephanie Sinclair is a photographer who started capturing images of child brides over 9 years ago. Stephanie sought to highlight the lives of girls forced into marriage in her photographs in a bid to raise awareness. Her work has now been internationally recognised and has been used as a conversation-starter about child brides.

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Nujood Ali, former Yemeni child bride, after her divorce. Photo Credit: Stephanie Sinclair

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

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

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

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

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

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

- Regina Yau, Founder and President, The Pixel Project

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Female Role Model 1: Angelica Bello – Colombia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Female Role Model 6: Ikram Ben Said – Tunisia

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

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

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

Female Role Model 8: Laxmi – India

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

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

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

Female Role Model 10: Malalai Joya – Afghanistan

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

Female Role Model 11: Manisha Mohan – India

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

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

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

Female Role Model 13: Mussurut Zia – United Kingdom

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

Female Role Model 14: Pragna Patel – United Kingdom

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

Female Role Model 15: Rosi Oroczo – Mexico

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

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

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

The Pixel Project’s Best Blog Articles of 2013

Blog-and-Pen-300x237At The Pixel Project, our contribution to the global movement to end violence against women is as the voice of thousands joining together around the world.  We combine technology, social media, the Arts, journalism and activism to draw attention to the many ways violence against women (VAW) affects the lives of all people in all communities all around the world. Our volunteer researchers, writers, interviewers and editors collaborate to highlight news stories of positive activism and new programmes developed through our bi-monthly e-news digest, highlighting activists through our Facebook page, sharing information and resources through our daily twitter help lines and by writing thoughtful and inspiring blog posts on our main website and our campaign micro-sites.

This past year we have focused on a variety of topics from our Inspirational Interview monthly series on VAW activists, our wonderful 30 for 30 Father’s Day campaign interviews, our Paint it Purple campaign and our exciting Music for Pixels campaign.  Our articles focus on the activities and programmes that people are doing around the world to end violence against women and girls. We have increased our collaborations with programmes and organizations around the world and engaged in conversations online through tweet-a-thons to spark conversations about VAW to break myths, reduce stigma and educate. One of our new forays into technology and activism this year is with our collaboration with P.F.O. Technologies and their iAMDefender smartphone safety app.

Blogging is a vital part of our mission, which includes: raising awareness about VAW, generating conversation by giving people a safe space to talk about VAW, and inspiring activism. As our 16 best blog articles and series show, we succeeded in fulfilling our mission this year. We hope that the stories we shared motivate you to join the effort to end VAW.

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

- Carol Olson, Blog Editor (2013) – The Pixel Project

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Blog Article Selection #1: Inspirational Interview: Vidya Siri – of Gangashakti.org

Our first Inspirational Interview of 2013 was with Vidya Sri, the founder of Gangashakti.org – a community advocacy organisation she developed to utilise the framework of her own forced marriage to raise awareness. Her mission is to engage a wide range of agencies, service providers, students and scholars on the poorly understood issue of forced marriage in the United States.

Blog Article Selection #2: 10 Alternatives to Roses for Valentines Day 

This post celebrated celebrated non-commercial alternatives to celebrate the traditional day of love.  Many of the suggestions focused on doing healthy things together to celebrate relationships and support the cause to end violence against women.  If you are planning early for next year, check out 10 “Valentines Against Violence” as alternatives to the traditional “romantic” gifts.

Mallika Dutt

Mallika Dutt, Founder of Breakthrough.

Blog Article Selection #3: Inspirational Interview: Mallika Dutt of Breakthrough and Bell Bajao (ring the bell) campaign. 

Another Inspirational Interview featured Mallika Dutt, the founder of the global human rights organisation, Breakthrough and the Bell Bajao campaigns. Mallika has mastered the art of blending multimedia campaigns, cutting-edge pop culture, social media and authentic community engagement to develop innovative campaigns and tools for teaching democracy and justice, and bring awareness to end violence and discrimination against women.  The Pixel Project has continued to collaborate with Breakthrough through tweet-a-thons and other advocacy efforts to raise awareness of violence against women.

Blog Articles Selection #4: Stop Street Harassment Story Series – a cross post collaboration

As part of The Pixel Project’s partnership with Stop Street Harassment, we cross-post a Street Harassment story specially selected by Stop Street Harassment founder, Holly Kearl, on the second Tuesday of every month. Holly also contributes to our 16 for 16 days of Activism posts by selecting significant stories from their year of activism.

Blog Article Selection 5: Inspirational Interview with Evan Grae Davis – noted filmmaker

Evan Grae Davis is a filmmaker who has dedicated his career to advocating for social justice through his documentaries and educational videos.  We featured his first feature length film:  It’s a Girl, a documentary that combined stories that illustrated the scope of injustice and suffering women endure under gendercide, while, at the same time, sharing beautiful stories of people who rise above the patriarchal cultural influences and choose to value girls. He also contributed a short PSA to our “Who Is Your Male Role Model?” PSA campaign that runs from 25 November 2013 – 7 March 2014:

Blog Article Selection #6: Survivor Stories 

While not a regular feature of our blog, we do receive submissions from survivors on their stories of recovery and healing.  We share them on Thursdays to help promote the individual voice of survivorship, healing, and transformation that all survivors go through.

Anti-Street-Harassment-Week-2013-300x220Blog Article Selection #7: Anti-Street Harassment Week  

This year, the Pixel Project began a collaboration with Stop Street Harassment to contribute to and support the annual International Anti-Street Harassment Week held in April by featuring the best anti-street harassment stories throughout the week. We hope that this series gives you some great ideas for how to prevent, stop and intervene in street harassment in your communities.

 

Blog Article Selection #8: New Technology Partnerships with Smartphone Safety Apps 

This is the year that the Pixel Project began it’s first collaborations with technology partners.  In April, during Sexual Assault Awareness Month, we started our partnership with two Smartphone safety app creators – the award-winning Circle of 6 and the groundbreaking Sweden-based P.F.O.

Blog Article Selection #9: 30 for 30 Father’s Day Campaign. 2013 was our second year curating a blogging “marathon” of 30 fathers from around the world to share about the joys of being a dad and how dads can help prevent VAW in positive ways. We received responses from men all over the world, including India, the US, Nigeria, Kenya, the UK, Malaysia, Canada and Zimbabwe!

Blog Article Selection #10: Technology Partnership with Microsoft 

The Pixel Project continues with its focus to enter collaborations with Technology partners. Microsoft will be contributing their world-class technology expertise, tools and development support to The Pixel Project’s global campaigns and to create online apps and virtual tools that will help facilitate social media campaigns, virtual communities and online fundraising initiatives.  Microsoft employees also took an active role in helping raise awareness about VAW by participating in various Pixel Project activities including the Paint It Purple campaign for Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and the “30 For 30” Father’s Day blogging campaign celebrating fathers as male role models.

Lakshami Sundaram, Girls Not Brides

Lakshami Sundaram, Girls Not Brides

Blog Article Selection #11: Inspirational Interview – Lakshmi Sundaram of Girls Not Brides

Child and Forced Marriage has received a greater focus in the news this past year.  Marrying children and forcing young women into arranged marriages is still prevalent in many cultures. This year, we featured Lakshmi Sundaram, a Global Coordinator of Girls, Not Brides founded by The Elders, a group of independent global leaders who use their collective experience and influence for peace, justice, and human rights worldwide. Lakshmi works with the group to bring the issue of child marriage to global attention and to be more effective in addressing the problem.

Blog Article Selection #12: Inspirational Interview – Deeyah

Deeyah, is a multi-talented and critically acclaimed music producer, composer, Emmy and Peabody award-winning documentary film director and human rights activist. The Pixel Project highlighted her for her her outspoken support of women’s rights, freedom of expression and peace; including her documentary about Honour Killing, ‘Banaz: A Love Story’.

Blog Article Selection #13: Inspirational Interview – Chris Johnson – A Sports Celebrity focused on the power of bystanders to speak out against violence. 

Chris Johnson, a major player with the Baltimore Ravens, has come forth to utilize his celebrity status to step up and speak out to end violence against women and girls. He realised that with his celebrity status and role as a sports mentor, he can lend leadership to the cause to end violence against women. His goal is be a role model to men and boys to not abuse women and to not tolerate abuse and disrespectful comments toward women.

Copyrighted by Michelle Wong PhotoArtistryBlog Article Selection #14: Paint It Purple: People and Pets Say ‘No’ 2013

This was our second year for our Paint It Purple photo-blogging campaign in through our Facebook page in which we raise awareness of the fact that many women stay in abusive relationships for fear of abandoning a pet who might also be suffering at the hands of an abuser. This campaign invites people to submit photos of themselves and their pets to say ‘no’ to VAW.

Blog Article Selection #15: SPECIAL EDITION INSPIRATIONAL INTERVIEW: FGM in the UK – An Interview with Integrate Bristol 

The inspiration for producing the mini documentary for the Inspirational Interview series came from The Pixel Project’s long-time writer and interviewer, Angelique Mulholland. Ms. Mulholland has a particular interest in efforts to end FGM in the UK and has previously interviewed Muna Hassan from Integrate Bristol for The Pixel Project.  The documentary is aimed at raising awareness about what FGM is, how this form of VAW is being tackled in the UK and ideas for preventing, detecting and stopping FGM in the country.

Blog Article Selection #16: The Pixel Project’s VAW e-News Digest

Our e-News Digest has been a long-standing element of our blog to report on the latest and most relevant news related to violence against women.  Our researchers scan news from all over the world to highlight new programmes implemented, the efforts of activists and their unique response to end violence against women and girls in their communities. By reporting on the latest news in one place, we aim to keep everyone updated about progress being made in the global movement to stop violence against women.

16 Ways You Can Support a Survivor of Violence Against Women

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

16 Ways The Men Can Help Stop Online Violence Against Women

Social Media Logotype BackgroundWith the rise of social media and smartphones in the last decade or so, Facebooking, tweeting, pinning, blogging, and vlogging have become a default part of many people’s professional, personal and social lives. Communities are no longer limited to face-to-face interactions, but also flourish online in the form of Facebook pages, Twitter followers, YouTube subscribers and blogger networks.

Through these online communities, the Internet has become a conduit for the free-flow of ideas, opinions, thoughts, beliefs and values. As online communities become more ubiquitous and entrenched in our lives, the boundaries have long-ago blurred between our offline behaviour and online conduct and in many cases, the Internet acts to amplify anti-social, criminal and bigoted behaviour because of the anonymity it gives to participants and commentators who frequently engage in hurtful behaviour with impunity.

In the case of Violence Against Women (VAW), the Internet and social media has given misogyny an incredibly visible platform with almost no controls in place to check their behaviour towards women and girls online. As Laura Bates, the founder of The Everyday Sexism Project, says:

The internet is a fertile breeding ground for misogyny – you only have to look at the murky bottom waters of Reddit and 4Chan to see the true extent to which it allows violent attitudes towards women to proliferate. But, crucially, it also provides a conduit that enables many who hold those views to attack and abuse women and girls, from what they rightly perceive to be an incredibly secure position.

Indeed, from Anita Sarkeesian to the Steubenville rape case, cyber VAW has been on the rise over the past decade, with the most recent high-profile case being the horrendous Twitter attacks on feminist campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez after her success in getting the Bank of England to include a woman on a UK currency note.

Anti-VAW activists and nonprofits and online women’s rights communities are now fighting back with campaigns aimed at getting social media networks, governments and law enforcement agencies to take cyber VAW seriously and to take action to prevent and stop it. As with all aspects of stopping VAW, support of men and boys is crucial to this fight and in this “16 for 16″ article, we present 16 ways in which men can help stop cyber VAW

Introduction by Regina Yau; Written by Rashad Brathwaite and Regina Yau; Edited by Jerica Nonell and Regina Yau.

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Men Helping Stop Cyber VAW – Tip #1: Acknowledge the violence. There are 3 important ways in which men need to effectively acknowledge cyber violence against women. The first step is to be aware of and accept the fact that it definitely exists. The second step is to acknowledge that in the rough-and-tumble on online interaction, women and girls face a different, more extreme, and more insidious kind of backlash than men including a disproportionate number of threats of physical violence, name-calling, reputation assasination, death threats, sexual assault threats and rape threats. The third step is to publicly recognise cyber VAW when it happens and to intervene.

Men Helping Stop Cyber VAW – Tip #2: Educate yourself. The first step towards effective online bystander intervention is developing the ability to recognise the signs and manifestations of cyber VAW within online communities. These run the gamut from rape joke Facebook pages to mass misogynistic trolling in the comments section of opinion pieces written by women. Check out online resources that provide information online online bullying and cyber VAW, including What Men Can Do. Knowing what cyber VAW looks like will enable you to take timely action to intervene to stop the violence.

tnc_logoMen Helping Stop Cyber VAW – Tip #3: Educate the next generation. One of the most effective ways of helping stop cyber VAW is to educate the next generation of boys and youth about the issue and to equip them to deal with it. For example: That’s Not Cool is a public education campaign that raises awareness about teen dating violence by sharing examples of unhealthy, controlling, and abusive behavior. The campaign teaches youth risk factors for “textual harassment,” “pic pressure,” and other signs of unhealthy relationship behavior. “That’s Not Cool” also provides resources and information on ways to intervene if a young person has a friend, family member, or acquaintance who is being verbally, emotionally, or sexually harassed via technology.

Men Helping Stop Cyber VAW – Tip #4: Educate your peers. When engaging online with your male peers, friends and co-workers, look for opportunities to steer the conversation towards discussing why cyber VAW is not acceptable. These opportunities can include talking to them when you see them exhibit disrespectful or bullying behaviour towards women and girls in the online community; or when discussing high profile cases of male celebrities committing VAW. You can also invite your male peers to join you on liking anti-VAW Facebook pages, following anti-VAW Twitter accounts and participating in online discussions about the importance of stopping VAW.

Men Helping Stop Cyber VAW – Tip #5: Lead by example. Make sure that your website, blog, social media profiles, and behaviour in forums, comments sections and chatrooms are free from any form of misogynistic behaviour including mansplaining, dismissing women’s opinions, sharing tasteless VAW jokes that blame the victim, sexist name-calling, putting up pictures extolling the ‘virtues’ of the rape and battery of women etc. Be self-aware about your own behaviour and treat women and girls as equals when engaging in online discussions or interactions with them. Step up to intervene when you see cyber VAW happening.

Men Helping Stop Cyber VAW – Tip #6: Make Amends When You Make a Mistake. As an ally, you will make mistakes. Anything new that is being internalised has a learning curve, and learning to question societal norms certainly is no exception. Being an ally involves constantly learning and re-learning, constantly questioning your own attitudes and language. If you find that a view you hold or a post that you have shared is problematic, apologise. If you are called out on problematic behaviour, listen. Do not become defensive or feel as if you are being attacked when called out – it is the only way that you can learn and change.

Men Helping Stop Cyber VAW – Tip #7: Call ‘em out! People who perpetuate cyber VAW need to be called out on their behaviour IMMEDIATELY because many aggressors and trolls are empowered by the silence of bystanders and the protection of online anonymity. Make sure that they know that what they are doing is wrong. Even if you are the only voice saying so, your intervention may get them to reconsider their behaviour. Even if the the perpetrator declares that he means no harm, it is important to disrupt incidences of cyber VAW while it is happening by.publicly and calmly pointing out that cyber VAW has hurtful consequences for the victim, and reflects badly on the perpetrator.

Men Helping Stop Cyber VAW – Tip #8: Be Specific. When you engage cyber VAW perpetrator about their behaviour, be specific about the exact behaviour that you are addressing, be it name-calling, victim-blaming, death threats, or rape threats. Having to defend their specific behaviour and tactic may cause some attackers to rethink what they are saying to try and having to think through their actions could trigger a change in their attitudes towards women online. Ask them questions you would like them to ask themselves: Would you issue this threat if it was a man expressing the same opinion?

Safety in NumbersMen Helping Stop Cyber VAW – Tip #9: Safety in numbers. When attempting to call out the behaviour of a group of cyber VAW perpetrators or any other type of cyber bullies, form a group yourself. 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 person 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.

Men Helping Stop Cyber VAW – Tip #10: Use that button! Most social media sites have policies against bullying and hate language by allowing for comments, threads, and users to be flagged as offensive. If engaging the cyber VAW perpetrator is impossible either because he repeats his behaviour or you are facing an entire community that actively commits cyber VAW, use the reporting tools that most social media networks set up to enable communities to report hate language and bullying to get the perpetrator removed for repeat offenses.

Men Helping Stop Cyber VAW – Tip #11: Reach Out. If you witness cyber VAW, remember to reach out to the target of the attack after you have intervened to stop the perpetrator. Provide support and engage with her to develop the best course of action. Find out how she wants to handle the situation and how she would like you to help. Online communities can easily make someone feel isolated when they are being attacked, so your outreach will help her to realise that there are people in the community who will not stand for cyber VAW and sexism and who are willing to step in to help.

Men Helping Stop Cyber VAW – Tip #12: Take it offline. If reporting cyber VAW to social media network administrators, forum moderators or website owners do not yield any action and the cyber VAW continues to escalate, begin documenting the violence with screencaps and contact an agency, nonprofit or grassroots campaign specialising in stopping cyber VAW and cyber bullying with the evidence. They will be able to assist you or advice you regarding the next steps with taking action to hold the perpetrators or the site accountable for their actions. In certain cases of cyber VAW that can be localised to a country or city, report the case to the relevant authorities such as the police. With governments and law enforcement agencies in many countries such as Canada, the UK and The Philippines starting to recognise cyber VAW as a crime, there are now increasing avenues to getting help to stop cyber VAW.

Men Helping Stop Cyber VAW – Tip #13: Create safe spaces. Whether you are a blogger, website owner, forum moderator, Facebook page administrator or are responsible for any online community, make sure you work with your fellow moderators/administrators to have a zero tolerance approach to cyber VAW and cyber bullying of any form. Make sure you are upfront with your policy on acceptable behaviour. Many major websites do this by stating on top of their comments sections or “about” sections of their websites and profile pages that while everyone is welcome, they will not tolerate bigoted, sexist, violent or disrespectful behaviour of any sort and they enforce it by moderating comments and banning those who violate their rules.

Men Helping Stop Cyber VAW – Tip #14: Size does not matter.  If an organisation, celebrity or company makes misogynistic, violent, and hateful remarks towards women and girls online, or refuses to moderate cyber VAW on their show, website and social media channels, organise or join a campaign that hits them where it hurts – their profits. This approach has been done successfully several times. The latest example is that of the #FacebookRape campaign organised by Laura Bates (founder of The Everyday Sexism Project), Jaclyn Friedman (Women, Action, and the Media) and Soraya Chemaly a prominent feminist writer. In summer 2013, they and over 100 anti-Violence Against Women organisations (including The Pixel Project) mounted the #FBrape campaign to get companies to withdraw advertising from Facebook until Facebook agreed to take cyber VAW on their social network seriously.

Men Helping Stop Cyber VAW – Tip #15: Share Your Knowledge.  One of the greatest features of the internet and social media is its ability to spread information at a rapid pace. As an ally, you have the opportunity to spread the knowledge that you gain to people who are not necessarily looking for the same information. Make your awareness viral! When you find a good article or video that puts online violence in perspective, tweet it, blog about it, share it!

Men Helping Stop Cyber VAW – Tip #16: Be a virtual volunteer. Online anti-VAW nonprofits and organisations, such as The Pixel Project, are always looking for more people to get involved in the movement to end VAW. Whether you decide to volunteer with an online support service for survivors of VAW, or with a non-profit that specifically fights cyber VAW and cyber bullying, adding your voice to their ranks and allows for more information to be published faster, reaching more people. If for no other reason, your experiences and your insights are unique and valuable.

16 Ways to Stop Domestic Violence in Your Community

stop domestic violenceThe World Health Organisation (WHO)’s latest report on Violence Against Women that was released in June 2013 indicated that in some regions of the world, over 35% of women suffer from partner violence.  With these staggering numbers, it is a very real possibility that every one of us knows a woman is facing (or has faced) domestic violence.

The intervention of neighbours and the wider community is one of the keys to stopping the violence. This starter list provides 16 tips for preventing and intervening to stop Domestic Violence in your community and/or neighbourhood. We have divided the list into 2 sections – one for the wider community and one for individuals. If you have any other suggestions and tips, please do share them in the comments section.

Introduction by Regina Yau; Written by Rashad Brathwaite and Regina Yau; Edited by Jerica Nonell and Regina Yau.

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For The Wider Community

IMG_9492Domestic Violence Intervention Tip #1: Know the signs. The first step to action is to familiarise individuals and the community with the possible signs and indicators of domestic violence. These signs can vary and do not always come with physical symptoms because domestic violence is not just limited to physical attacks such as beatings. It includes many forms of abusive behaviour enacted to control the victim in a myriad of ways including emotional abuse, verbal abuse and economic abuse. Domestic violence also affects every level and demograhic in society, so there is no typical victim despite the stereotypes. Someone who may not appear to be a victim of domestic violence may well be suffering in silence and it is important to recognise the signs if this is the case.

Domestic Violence Intervention Tip #2: Get your community educated! A good start to eradicating Domestic Violence from your community or neighbourhood is to start educating as many people as possible about Domestic Violence, its impact and how to intervene safely. This can be done in collaboration with your local Domestic Violence shelter or women’s organisation or police community outreach officers who can work with the community, local schools and local companies to organise and implement talks, townhall meetings and other group sessions to talk about this issue.

Domestic Violence Intervention Tip #3: Get your community organised! There is safety and influence in numbers when intervening to stop an abuser or making your community a place where Domestic Violence will not be tolerated. So just as many neighbourhoods have neighbourhood watch to stop crime, start organising a network of folks who will commit to intervene in Domestic Violence situations, help victims leave their abusers safely and provide a communal support structure for survivors.

Domestic Violence Intervention Tip #4: Boost your community support network with technology! If you have a smart phone and the victim has a smart phone, consider downloading a safety app for women, many of which have been designed to automatically alert your support network if you are in danger. If the victim does not have a smart phone, consider pooling money with a few friends and neighbours to get her one and pre-load it with a safety app that is connected to all your phones so you can become a de facto support net for her. Free safety apps currently available include the award-winning Circle of 6 and the iAMDEFENDER app which you can download here.

Domestic Violence Intervention Tip #5: Stopping the violence is good for business. Domestic Violence has cost economies and companies millions of dollars in lost time, medical care, productivity etc. In the U.S., the cost of Domestic Violence to the economy is estimated at $8.3 billion a year. If you are a business owner or a senior member of a company (e.g. a director, board member, senior manager), be pro-active in getting educated about how to intervene if you suspect or know that your employee or staff member is facing Domestic Violence because it will have a knock-on effect on your company. Implement HR policies that makes provisions for the potential impact of Domestic Violence. For example, the National Bank of Australia is currently offering paid Domestic Violence leave because the economic freedom from remaining in paid work is regarded as vital in helping victims escape violent relationships.

For Individuals

Domestic Violence Intervention Tip #6: 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. You could use the old neighbourly approach of asking to borrow a cup of sugar or some milk as an excuse. If you feel that it could get dangerous, bring another person with you so there will be more than one witness. Check out what this guy did in a PSA by our partner, Bell Bajao:

Domestic Violence Intervention Tip #7: Bring a back-up. Intervening with Domestic Violence situations can be dangerous especially if the abuser has a weapon (e.g. a gun) and is intoxicated by drink or drugs. If you are unable to get help from the local shelter or police, make sure to bring another friend or family member along with you when you respond to the victim/survivor’s call in person.

Domestic Violence Intervention Tip #8:  BE the back-up. If your neighbour, friend, co-worker, classmate, mother, sister, daughter, daughter-in-law, niece or cousin is facing Domestic Violence at home, let them know that you will be willing to be a witness or to intervene on their behalf while you are around. Also let them know that they are welcome to take refuge in your home should they need somewhere to go.

Domestic Violence Intervention Tip #9: Make the call, NOW. If the situation is beyond simple neighbourly intervention (e.g. the abuser has a gun and uses it during the abuse), call the police or your local emergency services (such as 911 in the U.S.) IMMEDIATELY. Provide critical information, such as location, names, contact number, and whether or not you wish the remain anonymous. Do NOT intervene personally in this scenario as it will be too dangerous to do so.

Be-Friends-with-Someone-Emotionally-Unable-to-Be-an-Equally-Supportive-Friend-Step-9Domestic Violence Intervention Tip #10: Listen to empower. If a victim of domestic violence reaches out to you, listen. Let her know that you believe her and do not judge her choices. Victims often feel completely isolated and are often belittled by their partner; it is important to enable her to feel safe when confiding in you because eventually, she may well be able to gather enough courage to tell you exactly what is happening and to ask for help. This intervention tip may be particularly useful for hairdressers, nurses, human resource department personnel and anyone working in professions that involve having to listen to clients, customers and co-workers as part of the job.

Domestic Violence Intervention Tip #11: Be on standby If you suspect your friend, co-worker, staff, or family member of suffering from Domestic Violence, offer to be on standby for her text or call for emergencies. Have your phone on and fully charged at all times and keep it on you. If you have a car and need to intervene immediately, make sure that the gas/petrol tank is full so you can get in and drive to get the victim/survivor immediately if need be.

Domestic Violence Intervention Tip #12: Have an intervention plan. Work out a plan to get an intervention operation in action – have the following numbers on standby for your use:

  • The national Domestic Violence helpline (if your country has it)
  • The local Domestic Violence shelter helpline wherever the victim/survivor is located.
  • The local police wherever the victim/survivor is located.

Make sure to contact all of these agencies immediately should you receive an urgent SOS from the victim/survivor or if you hear or witness the violence begin and escalate (and in many cases, it may escalate incredibly quickly).

Domestic Violence Intervention Tip #13: Provide some relief. If you know a Domestic Violence victim/survivor who is being kept at home without relief, do a random act of kindness for her: Offer to babysit the children for a few hours while the abuser is out so she can have a breather; Offer to pick up groceries for her on your grocery run. Every small gesture helps provide relieve and also build the victim’s confidence in eventually reaching out to you for help (or accepting your help).

Domestic Violence Intervention Tip #14: Check in regularly. If you fear for your friend, co-worker, classmate, or family member’s life, call or text her once a day at a random time to see if she is all right. If it’s your neighbour, keep an eye out on the house and your ears pricked for any signs or sounds of violence.

Domestic Violence Intervention Tip #15: Be a resource. Help her find the assistance she needs, whether it is legal information, local domestic violence programmes, or finding a safe place through a battered women’s shelter. The greatest danger women face in these situations is often the actual process of leaving, so finding a safe place may be key. Knowing this information beforehand may be helpful, but assisting her in the research and even making phone calls for her will also help speed things up.

Domestic Violence Intervention Tip #16: Document! Document! Document! Document any incidents that you witness. Take note of dates, times, injuries, and any other observations. Your ongoing documentation can help bolster a victim’s courage and credibility when they are finally willing to pursue legal action against their partner.

16 Memorable Stories of Standing Up Against Street Harassment 2013

BraveHeartHawaii group - Anti-Street Harassment Week 4.7.13We are proud today to share the third annual blog list of 16 memorable stories of women dealing with street harassment which has been kindly compiled by Holly Kearl, Founder of Stop Street Harassment and one of our 16 Female Role Models of 2010.

Almost 100% of women and girls experience street harassment in their lifetimes ranging from the uncomfortable to the downright dangerous. Holly receives many stories of women fighting back against street harassment by themselves or with the help of friends, family and bystanders which is shared on the Stop Street Harassment website and Facebook page 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 ones for women.

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

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Empowering Response #1:  When a man began openly staring at EM’s friend’s breasts, she said really loudly to him as they passed him on the New Jersey street, “You should look where you’re going or you might fall.” He looked at her and she repeated, “Look where you’re walking.” Her friend laughed and he looked embarrassed.

HannahPrice-Story2-ImageViaBuzzFeedEmpowering Response #2: Photographer and Yale School of Art MFA student Hannah Price made international news this year with her series of stunning photos of the men who harassed her on the streets of Philadelphia, turning the lens and attention on them instead of her.

Empowering Response #3: Phillip in San Francisco, California, observed a man harassing every woman in the area. A few construction workers suggested the man stop, but he didn’t. So Philip got in his space and began making remarks about that man’s body and returned his misogyny. He said the harasser took off, almost running, while the construction workers high-fived Philip!

Empowering Response #4: Penelope lives in Sydney, Australia, and when construction for a new apartment building began next to where she lived, the constant harassment by the workers made her feel ill. She tried lots of tactics to avoid harassment but finally, she wrote a letter to the development company. It worked. She said, “I was stopped by the foreman and he politely let me know that he spoke to the men and have them stop the harassment and that if it happens again to seek him out or contact the company again.”

Empowering Response #5: Nayana was walking down a very busy road in Delhi, India. Suddenly, she felt a man “feeling up her front” with his hand. She said she was shocked! When she saw him smirking because he felt he was going to get away it, she grabbed hold of his collar and screamed at the top of her voice, “Police! Police! Help!” People gathered around her to help. The police arrived and she reported him. He ended up spending the night in jail.

Empowering Response #6: A woman was at the Metro in Virginia when she saw two guards harassing another woman. That woman cringed and walked quickly away. One of the guards then told the woman who observed it, “Let me see a SMILE on that pretty face.” She made eye contact and told him firmly, “Mind your business.” He giggled nervously and shut up.

Empowering Response #7: One day Irem was riding a city bus with her sister in Izmir, Turkey. A man would not stop staring at them. She stared back to try to make him feel uncomfortable and stop, but he just kept staring. So then Irem stood up and said to him, “Do you know us from somewhere else because you’ve been looking at us for ten minutes.” She said he was very embarrassed and that the other passengers, especially the women, laughed at him. He looked down at the floor for the rest of the ride.

Empowering Response #8: Emily pulled up beside a pickup truck at a traffic light in Sarasota, Florida. Her windows were rolled down and the two men in the truck whistled at her, laughing. She turned off her radio, turned to them and said, “You know, it’s really offensive when men whistle at a woman like she’s an animal. I don’t appreciate that. What you’re doing is called street harassment and it is unacceptable.” The driver apologized saying, “I’m sorry, ma’am. I’ll stop tonight.”

Empowering Response #9: A woman was harassed by a man in an SUV while she wanted to cross the street in Minnesota, and then he drove away before she could respond, she wrote an open letter to him in the “Missed Connections” section of Craigstlist.com. Her amazing letter was shared all over the Internet and it ended with this good advice:If you really find a woman beautiful, don’t choose the juvenile selfish route that makes her feel weird and you look like an asshole. Just take a deep breath, commit the image to memory, and get on with your life. Or, if it’s really that great of an ass that you can’t possibly survive without commenting on it, post about it on CL missed connections after the fact and let her decide what to do about it.”

SarahStoryEmpowering Response #10: Sarah was visiting a friend in Buffalo, New York. As she walked through a parking garage to meet her friend, two men sitting in a truck rolled down their windows and shouted inappropriate sexual remarks at her. She turned around and walked up to the window, looked them both in the eye and calmly said, “I just wanted to let you know it is really rude to shout at someone like that, and most women do not appreciate it.” They apologized to her and said they were just trying to be nice and say hi. She told them how that behavior can be perceived as threatening. She says she “walked away feeling so positive and empowered, and I hope what I said had some impact on those men and their future behavior.”

Empowering Response #11: Robyn lives in Portland, Oregon. She was walking home from the grocery store with her seven-year-old stepson and her infant daughter when a man slowed down in his car to talk to her through his window. She felt hesitant to confront him with her kids there.  Instead of driving away, the man followed and then paced his car alongside her and her kids. “How are you doing?” he asked. She stopped and said, “I’d be a whole lot better if you weren’t doing this.” He said, “I understand,” and drove away.

Empowering Response #12: A woman in Harrogate, UK, was harassed in the morning by a fundraiser. It bothered her all day that he’d done this and when she went home that evening, she confronted him. She wrote, “He turned out to be a very nice guy who was very apologetic- he hadn’t realised how intimidating his behaviour was and was glad that I had gone back to speak to him. Being the older brother of 4 sisters he was keen to express his abhorrence of men that harass women. I was pleasantly surprised at his attitude- he was happy to listen and learn. It gave me hope!

Empowering Response #13: Each time Maria’s sister walked from the bus stop to her home in Colombia, a man across the street yelled sexual comments at her. His harassment upset her a lot. Maria was worried that since the man knew where she and her sister lived, it could be unsafe for her to talk to him, so she talked to her sister’s boyfriend and he said we would talk to him. The boyfriend asked the man to please show respect for the women walking on the streets and to consider their safety. His admonition worked and the man never harassed Maria’s sister again.

EndSH_Flier4 photo credit Julie and Amy MastrineEmpowering Response #14:  Christine was at a nightclub with a friend in Maynooth, Ireland, when a man groped her friend’s breast, then smiled as he walked away. Her friend froze in shock, but Christine “saw red.” She ran after him, matched his pace, and then reached around and grabbed his balls. She said, “He doubled over and I held on as I leaned in and spoke directly into his ear: ‘It’s not so nice when someone touches you without your permission, is it?’” She said she walked away and when she turned back, he looked very confused and uncomfortable.

Empowering Response #15: When D was street harassed by two different men in a short distance, she said, “No!” loudly to them each. A woman nearby saw both interactions and said, “Thank god for you!” and said something about how more people need to speak up against this. “I have to,” I said. “It [street harassment] is ridiculous.” D wrote, “I didn’t get a chance to thank her for supporting me in standing up against harassment. Usually when people see me standing up to harassers they either ignore it, think it’s funny, or tell me that I bring this stuff upon myself for taking harassment too seriously. So when I do encounter people who support standing up against street harassment, it feels great to know that there are people who think that this is a problem.”

Empowering Response #16: Fern was dressed up for an interview when two men on the street commented about her looks. She ignored them and one of them yelled, “What, you can say thank you?” She felt angry that a man expected her to thank him for his unsolicited and unwanted comments and asked him, “Why do I need to thank you? Did you do me a favor? Did you help me?” He was surprised and told her not to be uptight. She said, “I didn’t ask you to look at me. In fact, I wish you wouldn’t.” She then left.

16 Ideas for Educating Kids about Violence Against Women and Being Non-Violent

Running Girl and Dove

With violence against women and girls being one of the biggest and most entrenched human rights issues in the world, many anti-violence activists, educators and charities see the next generation as our best hope for bringing an end to gender-based violence. This is because if we can inculcate today’s children and teenagers with a firm belief in gender equality and non-violence, we would be able to begin gradually changing mindsets and cultural beliefs as the old cultural guards pass away and the next generation takes over.

The importance of actively educating children and teenagers about violence against women is also of paramount important because in today’s increasingly interconnected world where kids can get online with simple a tap on their smartphones, they are likely to become increasingly exposed to violence and misogyny beyond their own communities. Therefore, it is critical that parents, guardians, mentors and teachers to begin educating children about non-violence, gender equality and violence against women and girls as soon as possible.

In this “16 For 16″ article, we present 16 suggestions and tips that adults can use for teaching children and teenagers about gender equality, non-violent behaviour and the issue of violence against women and girls.

Introduction by Regina Yau; Compiled and written by Rashad Brathwaite and Regina Yau; Edited by Carol Olson and Regina Yau.

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VAW Education Tip #1 - Get YOURSELF Educated! The first step for parents and adults must is to become aware about the issue of violence against women and girls and how it impacts individuals, families and communities. There are lots of resources online, including The Pixel Project, which can provide basic information about violence against women. Once you know the basics, you will be better prepared to set up conversations about the issue, and identify and stop potentially violent and/or misogynistic behaviour displayed by your child.

Teacher and GirlVAW Education Tip #2 - Develop Open Lines of Communication. Enable children to feel comfortable coming to you with any question or issue. Make sure they know that you will listen to them and that their voice matters. Children who feel that they are taken seriously by a parent or mentor are less likely to run away from their own questions and more likely to listen to the advice passed down to them. By keeping yourself approachable, you are more likely to be able to guide them towards making the right decisions and taking the right actions when faced with issues and experiences like bullying and sexism which are related to and/or may lead to violence against women later on in life.

VAW Education Tip #3 – Books! Books! Books!. The books that children read in school and at home are easily accessible materials that can be used to teach important lessons. Use stories to teach values such as gender equality, kindness, non-violence, and respecting others. For younger children, select books that give examples of kind, non-violent behaviour while showing the consequences of violent behaviour like bullying. For older children and teenagers, go to the library or bookshop together to pick out books that promote healthy respectful behaviour as well as female characters who break the usual “princess” or “damsel in distress” mode. Think Katniss Everdeen, forget Bella Swan. If you are unable to find anything that matches what you want to teach or talk about, write your own!

VAW Education Tip #4 – Positive Reinforcement.  Compliment and reward kids when they display positive, non-violent and non-sexist behaviour when solving problems and interacting with other people. In addition, simply pointing out and punishing violent or aggressive behaviour such as bullying will not help them understand why their behaviour is unacceptable. A better approach would be to show them why it is negative and to be ready to provide ready alternatives of positive behaviour that they can easily remember and use. Keeping calm and listening to the child or teenager while teaching them to handle may also help transform a potentially stressful disciplinary situation into a learning opportunity about non-violence and respect in relationships and towards women and girls.

VAW Education Tip #5 – Boundaries are good!  Establishing boundaries for your children about what is or is not acceptable is part and parcel of teaching them about healthy problem solving, healthy relationships and non-violent conflict resolution. If you see your child engaging in violent behaviour, imposing a “time out” or other non-violent modes of discipline can help teach your child about peaceful means for resolving interpersonal problems and conflicts. Once they are able to recognise and respect boundaries, be it their own or other people’s, then they will be better able to understand the importance of consent in relationships and where to draw the line with aggressive or anti-social behaviour towards others.

Kids Under A TreeVAW Education Tip #6 –  It Takes A Village. Parents are seldom the only adult influencers in a child’s world which will eventually include some or all of the following adults: teachers, tutors, coaches, mentors, grandparents, aunts, uncles, older cousins, guardians. So don’t just focus on your particular relationship with your child or teenage. Remember the importance of building an active network of peers by making sure you keep communication lines open with the other adults in their world and work together with them to stand united in educating the kids about the importance of non-violence and of helping to stop violence against women.

VAW Education Tip #7 – Be A Good Sport! Many schools and other organisations focused on children and teenagers use sports as a way to help their charges channel their energies in a constructive way. Sports can help kids focus by giving them a goal to work towards while teaching team about team work and fair play. It is also a safety valve for letting off steam and aggression in a contained and controlled environment. Done right, sports can help children address and control aggressive tendencies, while learning good sportsmanship including fair play, accepting failure gracefully, and striving for success without hurting others.

VAW Education Tip #8 – Act It Out! Drama class or getting involved in plays can provide an outlet for children and teenagers to focus and learn about the issue of violence against women through storytelling and acting. If you are a parent and you know that there is a school production of a play that addresses issues related to violence against women and gender inequality, encourage your child or teenager to take part. If you are a drama teacher at a middle school or high school, make a conscious decision to select a play or musical that provide opportunities for your students to explore and talk about violence against women.

VAW Education Tip #9 – Share Stories. Share personal stories of difficult encounters and experiences to help drive home points you wish to make about violence against women and related topics such as bullying and sexism. Being minors with limited life experience, many children and teenagers are unable to connect the abstract idea of VAW with their own lives, and it is the role of the parents, mentor, teacher or coach to help them make the connection. You might not have experienced VAW in your life, but with 1 in 3 women worldwide experiencing gender-based violence in their lifetimes, whether it is domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, street harassment etc, chances are you may know someone who survived the violence who might be willing to talk to your child or students; Or you may have witnessed the violence yourself.

Grandmother and KidsVAW Education Tip  #10 – YouTube Is Your Friend! When used correctly, the internet can be a great resource for children and teenagers to learn about violence against women and its related issues. For example, here is a short film made specifically for children on the topic of domestic violence. So when you come across a video public service announcement or a particular clip on YouTube which can help kick off discussions about violence against women either at home or at school, use it. For teachers, mentors, coaches and other educators, it may also be particularly useful to create YouTube playlists of videos that you can use to kickstart the conversation with the children and teenagers in your class, team or counseling sessions.

VAW Education Tip #11 – Watch And Discuss.  Apart from YouTube videos, another resource for educating kids about violence against women and non-violent behaviour could be watching and discussing a movie, a documentary or an episode of a TV show with domestic violence, rape or other forms of violence against women as a storyline or theme. Get the post-movie discussion and brainstorming going by asking questions that get the kids to think about the issue, why violence against women is wrong, and how they can help to stop the violence. As movies featuring violence against women can be too graphic for younger or more squeamish children, try documentaries such as “Half The Sky”  that discuss solutions to violence against women.

VAW Education Tip #12 – Monitor Their Pop Culture Intake. In today’s celebrity-driven internet era, it is essential to use incidences in popular culture as teachable moments to address the issue of Violence Against Women with children and teenagers. The media and the celebrities they promote do not always provide positive role models for children. Therefore, it is the role of parents, guardians, mentors, teachers and coaches to address this issue. If you see the children under your care begin to internalise negative ideals due to the influence of media and celebrities, take action to sit down and engage them in conversations about what they have seen and to help them contextualise it in a healthy way. For example: When Chris Brown beat up Rihanna, it made the headlines and because both artistes have a huge fan base of teenagers and young adults, it was an incident that most kids would know about. So conversations about why domestic or dating violence is unacceptable could be built on discussing that piece of news.

Teachable MomentVAW Education Tip #13 – Teachable Moments Are Gold. Be on alert to possible teachable moments that could come any time, anywhere. Teachable moments about violence against women can come in any shape or size. It could be your child coming home from school and telling you about how s/he heard one child call another a violently sexist term such as “bitch”. You can turn that into a teachable moment but transforming it into an opportunity to talk to him/her about how name-calling is not just wrong, but name calling using misogynistic terms is a form of violence against women.

VAW Education Tip #14 – Preparation Is Everything. Talk to your children, students or teenagers you mentor about dating and relationships before they enter into the dating world. Tell them about what they can expect from a healthy relationship including mutual respect, being accepted for who they are, and  Let them know what abusive relationships could look like, including common red flag signs that indicate that they may be dating an abuser and/or are in an abusive relationship. By helping them set a healthy minimum standard for their relationships, you will be preparing them to identify relationships and potential life partners that are respectful, loving and non-violent.

VAW Education Tip #15 – Make Healthy Relationships for YOURSELF a Priority. Most people form their ideas about relationships from a very young age as they observe their parents’ relationship. For many people, their adult relationships and choices of life partner often echo their parents’ relationship. This is one of the ways in which domestic violence can trickle down over several generations through boys who grow up thinking that hitting a woman is normal and girls who grow up expecting to face violence as part of a ‘normal’ relationship. So one of the best ways to break – or never start – the cycle of abusive relationships for the next generation is to be mindful of your own relationships and how you interact with your life partner and other peers in your life.

VAW Education Tip #16 – Finally and Most Important of All… Be A Role Model.  Role modelling is one of the most effective ways of influencing children and teenagers because they usually learn and internalise life lessons by patterning their own behaviour and beliefs after their parents, teachers, mentors and other influential adults in their lives. Your reaction to anger, frustration and conflict when interacting with other people may well become a behavioral template for your children or the children you teach/mentor/coach. So be self-aware of and thoughtful about your own conduct towards yourself and others and set yourself the same standards of non-violence, respect and acceptance that you wish to teach the children and teenagers in your life.

The Pixel Project Selection 2013: 16 Films About Violence Against Women

Film-Reel-225x300 (1)The Pixel Project’s annual selection of films, documentaries and television shows that raise awareness about violence against women has been a fixture in our annual “16 For 16” campaign from the very beginning. We firmly believe that the “Show, Not Tell” principle is one of the most powerful ways to create a connection between the movement to end violence against women and the person on the street who might not have even given this human rights issue a thought before. Film and television are some of the best tools that activists and educators have at their disposal to shape and galvanise public opinion and action to prevent and stop violence against women (VAW) in their communities remains strong.

This year, our selection entirely comprises VAW documentaries of all lengths, shapes and sizes. The VAW topics they tackle show just how wide-ranging and entrenched VAW is in communities and cultures across the world – honour killing, female genital mutilation and rape are some of the prominent topics highlighted. India, in particular, takes the spotlight after the horrifying rape and murder of university student Jyoti Singh Pandey in Delhi.

We hope that this year’s diverse selection will provide a thought-provoking range of resources to help you kick start discussions about VAW that break the wall of silence and taboo in your community.

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

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Selection Number 1: Eden: American Sex Trade

“Eden” is based on the harrowing true story of sex trafficking survivor, Eden, a young Korean-American girl, who was abducted near her home and forced into prostitution by a domestic human and drug trafficking ring. Throughout the two years she is held, Eden reluctantly ensures her own survival by carving out power and influence within the very organization that has imprisoned her.

Selection Number 2: FGM in the UK

“FGM in the UK” is The Pixel Project’s first mini documentary and focuses on the issue of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in the UK. The documentary features Integrate Bristol, an anti-FGM group and is aimed at raising awareness about what FGM is, how this form of Violence Against Women is being tackled in the UK and ideas for preventing, detecting and stopping FGM in the country.

Selection Number 3: FGM – The Film The Changed the Law in Kurdistan

Two filmmakers spent almost a decade reporting the greatest taboo subject in Kurdish society: female genital mutilation. Nabaz Ahmed and Shara Amin persuaded people to talk about the effects of FGM and the film they made helped get the practice outlawed in 2011. And in the last few years the number of girls being mutilated in Kurdistan has fallen by over 60%. The story of their decade-long fight against FGM has been made into a documentary by the Guardian and BBC Arabic. (Summary courtesy of The Guardian)

Selection Number 4: Fighting the Silence: Sexual Violence against Women in the Congo

Fighting the Silence (2007) is a documentary made by Ilse and Femke van Velzen to tell the story of ordinary Congolese women and men who are struggling to change their society: one that prefers to blame victims rather than prosecute rapists. Rape survivors and their families speak out openly about the suffering they endured because their culture considers women second class citizens and rape as a taboo. They give voice to thousands of other survivors and their families who have chosen to hide their grief and remain silent for fear of being rejected by their families and community.

Selection Number 5: India: A Dangerous Place To Be A Women

Following the brutal Delhi Gang Rape, 28-year-old British Asian Radha Bedi travels to India to uncover the reality of life for young women there. Whilst filming the documentary, she met many brave young girls and women willing to share their personal experiences of harassment and violence and discovers that it all boils down to the fact that they were born female.

 Selection Number 6: In the Name of the Family: Honor Killings in North America

Schoolgirl Aqsa Parvez, sisters Amina and Sarah Said, and college student Fauzia Muhammad were all North American teenagers—and victims of premeditated, murderous attacks by male family members. Only Muhammad survived. Emmy® winner Shelley Saywell examines each case in depth in this riveting investigation of “honor killings” of girls in Muslim immigrant families. Not sanctioned by Islam, the brutalization and violence against young women for defying male authority derives from ancient tribal notions of honour and family shame. (Summary courtesy of Women Make Movies)

Selection Number 7: Invoking Justice

In Southern India, family disputes are settled by Jamaats—all male bodies which apply Islamic Sharia law to cases without allowing women to be present, even to defend themselves. Recognizing this fundamental inequity, a group of women in 2004 established a women’s Jamaat, which soon became a network of 12,000 members spread over 12 districts. Despite enormous resistance, they have been able to settle more than 8,000 cases to date, ranging from divorce to wife beating to brutal murders and more. Award-winning filmmaker Deepa Dhanraj (SOMETHING LIKE A WAR) follows several cases, shining a light on how the women’s Jamaat has acquired power through both communal education and the leaders’ persistent, tenacious and compassionate investigation of the crimes. (Summary courtesy of Women Make Movies)

Selection Number 8: Justice For Sale

“Justice For Sale” follows the young, courageous Congolese human rights lawyer Claudine Tsongo who refuses to accept that justice is indeed “For Sale” in her country. When she investigates the case of a soldier convicted of rape, she becomes convinced his trial was unfair and uncovers a system where the basic principles of law are ignored—and when the system fails, everyone becomes a victim. The documentary not only provides a glimpse into the failings of the Congolese judicial system but also raises questions about the role of the international community and non-governmental organizations in reforming it. Does their financial support cause justice to be for sale? And who pays the price? (Summary courtesy of Women Make Movies)

Selection Number 9: Pink Saris

This powerful documentary by Kim Longinetto chronicles the story of Sampat Pal and how she went from an abused underaged bride and daughter-in-law to the founder and leader of the Pink Saris (the Gulabi Gang) – a grassroots movement of women in Uttar Pradesh determined to mete out justice to the men and families who abuse, batter, torment and murder them with impunity.

Selection Number 10: Power and Control: Domestic Violence In America

“Power and Control: Domestic Violence in America” is a documentary about domestic abuse in the U.S. context and offers a probing and intimate exploration of the troubling persistence of violence against women in America. The 2008/2009 economic crisis has contributed to a sharp increase in domestic violence around the country.

Selection Number 11: Quest For Honour

“Quest For Honour” investigates the still prevalent practice of honor killing in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq. The alarming rise in the heinous act of men killing daughters, sisters and wives who threaten “family honor,” endangers tens of thousands of women in Iraq, Turkey, Jordan and adjoining countries. The Women’s Media Center of Suleymaniyah, Iraq, has joined forces with Iraq’s Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) to end this practice. (Adapted from a summary by Women Make Movies)

Selection Number 12: Rape In The Fields

“Rape In The Fields” is a documentary by PBS about the hidden reality of rape, sexual harassment and violence faced by many immigrant women in the U.S. agricultural industry, especially illegal immigrants eking out a living on farms.

Selection Number 13: Sarabah

Rapper, singer and activist, Sister Fa is a survivor of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), she tackles the issue by starting a grassroots campaign, “Education Without Excision,” which uses her music as a vehicle to bring her message about ending FGM to communities still plagued by it. “Sarabah” follows Sister Fa on her challenging journey, where she speaks out and sings out to all generations in affected communities to bring about change.

Selection Number 14: Señorita Extraviada, Missing Young Woman

“Señorita Extraviada, Missing Young Woman” tells the haunting story of the more than 350 kidnapped, raped and murdered young women of Juárez, Mexico. Visually poetic, yet unflinching in its gaze, this compelling investigation unravels the layers of complicity that have allowed for the brutal murders of women living along the Mexico-U.S. border. In the midst of Juárez’s international mystique and high profile job market, there exists a murky history of grossly underreported human rights abuses and violence against women. The climate of violence and impunity continues to grow, and the murders of women continue to this day. (Summary courtesy of Women Make Movies)

Selection Number 15: The Burning Times

This short documentary, funded by the National Film Board of Canada, looks at the witch-hunts that swept through Europe just a few hundred years ago. False accusations and trials led to massive torture and burnings at the stake, and ultimately to the destruction of an organic way of life. The film advances the theory that widespread violence against women and the neglect of our environment today can be traced back to those times.

Selection Number 16: Violence Against Women in Haiti: The Enemy Within

In this short documentary by UNIFEM (now UN Women) that is narrated by internationally renowned TV journalist Daljit Dhaliwal, this 21st Century short documentary goes deep into Haiti’s makeshift camps to expose acts of violence and sexual assaults women, especially young girls, have encountered since the country’s devastating earthquake in January left 1.5 million homeless. While measures are being taken by, for instance, the Haitian National Police, UN police and UN Women, to curb such type of violence, this video underscores what has yet to be done to ensure the safety of women and girls as Haiti continues to build itself back from the ground up.

Transcript: http://www.un.org/webcast/pdfs/unia1253.pdf

Transforming Personal Pain Into Positive Action: The Pixel Project’s 16 Female Role Models 2013

16days-header-rolemodels-2013Today is the first day of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence 2013 campaign and The Pixel Project is kicking things off with our 4th 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 13 countries and 4 continents.

Many of these astounding women have shown that it is possible to transform personal pain that came out of facing gender-based violence, into positive action to stop violence against women, empower themselves and to show other survivors that it is possible to move forward with dignity and happiness. They have refused to let bitterness and pain get the better of them, opting to stand up for themselves and for other women instead.

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

So without further ado, here in alphabetical order by first name is our 2013 list of 16 female role models. We hope that these women would be an inspiration to others to get involved with the cause. To that end, we hope you will generously share this list via Facebook and Twitter to give these extraordinary 16 women and their work a moment in the sun.

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

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Female Role Model 1: Caroline Criado-Perez – United Kingdom 

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 (such as British MP Stella Creasy) the target of numerous threats, including threats of rape and murder on Twitter from the day of the Bank of England’s announcement in July 2013. At one point, she received 50 Twitter threats an hour. 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.

Female Role Model 2: Deeyah – Norway

deeyahDeeyah, a critically acclaimed music producer, composer, Emmy and Peabody award-winning documentary film director and human rights activist, is known for her outspoken support of women’s rights, freedom of expression and peace.  Her documentary about Honour Killing, ‘Banaz: A Love Story’, won an Emmy Award in 2013 and is currently being used by “individual police teams in different parts of the UK who have reached out to [Deeyah] directly in the last 12 months to ask for copies of the film to use in their training and awareness raising strategies.” Before making “Banaz: A Love Story” and founding AVA Foundation, she was a well-known music artiste in Norway who was forced to give up performing due to constant threats and attacks, but continues to use her music as part of her activism to stop violence against women and girls. She says: “

Female Role Model 3: Fartuun Adan – Somalia

Fartuun-AdanFartuun Adan is the founder of Sister Somalia, a group dedicated to supporting survivors of sexual violence with medical services, counseling, education and entrepreneurial advice. Her mission began in 2007 when she left her children in Canada, where they were refugees from the Somalian war after the brutal murder of her husband, Somali human rights activist Elman Ali Ahmed, to return to Somalia to continue her husband’s work. While working in refugee camps that mushroomed around Mogadishu, she noticed the high volume of rape and other violence against women and children, which led her to set up Sister Somalia – the first organisation in the country to come out publicly and talk about the astonishing number of sexual abuse victims.

Female Role Model 4: Julie Lalonde – Canada

Julie LalondeJulie Lalonde whose work to stop violence against women has pitted her against the administration of Carleton University in a protracted fight for an on-campus sexual assault centre, as well as against OC Transpo and the city, at times, over harassment and violence against women. She has been given a Governor General’s Award in Commemoration of the Person’s Case for “improving the lives of women and girls through her work to end sexual assault and sexual harassment.”

 

Female Role Model 5: Kakenya Ntaiya – Kenya 

Ntiya KakenyaKakenya Ntaiya, the founder of Kakenya’s Center for Excellence in the tiny, rural village of Enoosaen which helps at-risk girls flee from female genital mutilation (FGM). Kakenya was engaged at age five to the six-year-old boy next door and expected to undergo FGM and be a child bride but while she endured FGM, she broke the cycle by convincing her village elders to allow her to attend college in the U.S. and vowed to return and build a school, a maternity hospital, a future for girls. She earned a Doctorate in Education from the University of Pittsburgh and fulfilled her promise by returning to her village and building Kakenya’s Center.

 

Female Role Model 6: Kim Lee – China

kimlee3Kim Lee, an American woman who married a Chinese celebrity went public with her abuse case and won after an 18-month court battle. Women’s rights activists said it is a milestone case in China against domestic violence against women. Lee said: “I made a conscious decision. I used a Chinese lawyer, I used Chinese courts,” she says. “To be honest, a lot of my American friends did not understand this. They were like, ‘You’re crazy. You’re American. Go to the embassy immediately.’ But I did not want to teach my daughters, ‘No one can beat you because you’re American.’ I wanted to teach them, ‘No one can beat you because you’re a person, you’re a woman.’

Female Role Model 7: Kriti Bharti – India

Kriti BhartiIn a country where a staggering 40 per cent of the world’s child marriages take place, Kriti Bharti, an award-winning anti-child-marriage activist and women and children’s rights campaigner, has single handedly established the charity Saarthi Trust in 2012 to help victims of India’s child marriage crisis. Bharti says: “A lot of people who are determined to stop me from doing my work… Death threats have become a part of my life now and I have come to accept it as part of this job.” She has a group of around five volunteers to assist her but on almost all child bride-saving missions, she prefers to go alone. “I don’t want to put the lives of others at risk,’’ she says.

Female Role Model 8: Kym Worthy – United States of America

Kym WorthyKim Worthy, the first African-American woman to become prosecutor of Detroit, and her team discovered a backlog of over 11,000 rape kits while doing an inventory of Detroit police department evidence. Disgusted by the apathy of the police department in tackling rape cases, she assembled a team of volunteers to begin the lengthy process of cataloguing the rape kits. Worthy and her team of volunteers attracted national attention, and she was awarded a federal grant of $1.5m to continue the work. Since 2009, 1600 rape kits have been investigated by Worthy’s team, a staggering 37 serial rapists have been identified and 13 cases have been brought against suspects as a direct result of Worthy’s endeavours.

Female Role Model 9: Liu Ngan Fung – Hong Kong

Liu Ngan Fung_croppedAfter Liu Ngan Fung left her violent and abusive husband, she began volunteering with an organisation called Kwan Fook, helping other women suffering from domestic violence. She became a curriculum adviser to social work lecturers at Hong Kong University to stop the practice of sending women back to their violent partners. When she became a staffer for a member of the Hong Kong Legislative Council, she provided research and advice on domestic violence. Ms Liu was part of a coalition of community groups, politicians and advocates that successfully lobbied for changes to domestic violence laws and policies in Hong Kong.

 

Female Role Model 10: Mae Azango – Liberia

CANADIAN JOURNALISTS FOR FREE EXPRESSION - CJFEMae Azango is a Liberian journalist who has become internationally renowned (as well as infamous among traditionalists in her own country) for exposing the horrors of FGM as it is practiced in the Liberian outback. When she published an unusually detailed article about the fatal consequences of FGM in her newspaper, Front Page Africa, she began receiving death and FGM threats. Mae says: “My father wanted to send me [for FGM],” Azango says. “But my mother, who went to college, she said no. And that is what saved me.” Now, her journalistic mission is to help educate and empower other women to make the same choice for their daughters.

Female Role Model 11: Minh Dang – United States of America 

Minh DangAfter years of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, Minh Dang’s parents sold her for sex, starting at age 10. She kept the abuse hidden throughout her childhood and when she finished college, she was finally able to break free from them to rebuild her life. Today, she is a prominent anti-sex trafficking activist working with actress and activist Jada Pinkett Smith, and her non-profit Don’t Sell Bodies. Both women met with U.S. senators in Washington, D.C. Ms. Dang is committed to using her past not only to urge new legislation to end human trafficking, but also to help other victims who can’t yet speak out. “It’s not just one focus of stopping human trafficking, but building survivors in that process,” Dang said.

Female Role Model 12: Nimko Ali – United Kingdom 

Nimko AliBristol-based campaigner Nimko Ali, who is of Somali heritage, set up the charity, Daughters of Eve, to help girls at risk of Female Genital Mutilation and push for the practice to be stopped. Ms. Ali, who has lived in the UK since she was four, herself underwent FGM at age seven while on holiday in Djibouti. She says: “I only decided to go public very recently after seeing other girls put themselves in danger by speaking out. The weeks afterwards were the most horrifying of my life. I lost friends – one even offered to kill me for £500.” Undeterred, Ms.Ali and her fellow anti-FGM activists have continued to speak out about FGM in the UK where their message that FGM is child abuse and needs to be stopped has been gathering moment.

Female Role Model 13: Nusreta Sivac – Bosnia Herzegovina

Bosnia Rape as War CrimeNusreta Sivac, a Muslim Bosniak, was one of 37 women raped by guards at a concentration camp in Bosnia. Today, it’s partly thanks to Sivac’s efforts to gather testimony from women across Bosnia that rape has been categorized as a war crime under international law. Thirty people have been convicted at the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague and another 30 cases are ongoing. She personally helped put the man who raped her repeatedly during her two months in captivity behind bars. Sivac who has since testified in several cases, including against Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, is satisfied with what she has achieved, although she wishes the ongoing cases would accelerate. “It’s slow, very slow,” she said. “But it is a start.”

Female Role Model 14: Simona Broomes – Guyana 

Simona BroomesSimona Broomes is a Guyanese activist and the president of the Guyana Women Miners Organisation. She routinely travels to gold and diamond mining camps to rescue underage girls working as prostitutes. Her work has life-threatening consequences. In an interview with The Associated Press, she stated that she recently began carrying a gun after she was assaulted during one of her trips. Death threats forced her to close her mining equipment business and undeterred, she began organising fundraising barbeques to raise money to enable her to continue her work to extricate girls from forced prostitution at mining camps. In July 2013, she was honoured by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry for her anti-sex trafficking work.

Female Role Model 15: Stephanie Sinclair – United States of America 

Stephanie SinclairStephanie Sinclair is a photojournalist who has spent almost a decade documenting some of the most eye opening images of child brides. She began her work on this issue after she discovered that many Afghan women who had set themselves on fire were child brides. Her project has led her to Ethiopia, India, Nepal and Yemen where underage marriage for girls is rife. The resulting images have been published worldwide by prestigious publications such as National Geographic and the New York Times magazine. When interview by Christiane Amanpour at CNN, she said: “I want to point out that child marriage is an issue in more than 50 countries around the world, and even in our own country we have had issues of it as well and still do, and so nobody is really exempt from it. It’s a harmful traditional practice that is slowly changing we just want to see it change even faster.”

Female Role Model 16: Valentina Sagaya – Indonesia

Valentina SagayaValentina Sagaya is the founder of Yayasan Institut Perempuan (Women’s Institute Foundation), the first women’s organisation in Bandung, Indonesia. Ms.Sagaya and her organisation has been pushing for reforms to laws that “dehumanise women, and even create and perpetuate violence against women,” a situation which she believes had a part in enabling the mass rape tragedy during the violence of 1998 across Indonesia. She says: “I can get so mad when facing injustice [against women].”  In addition to her work via her organisation, Ms Sagaya has also set up community-based groups to provide services to victims of human trafficking through the West Java Anti-Trafficking Movement Network. For her work in women’s human rights, she has been named as the Indonesia N-Peace Awards Role Model For Peace 2013.