Every year, we at The Pixel Project come across a wide variety of innovative and powerful campaigns tackling Violence Against Women (VAW) by our fellow activists and non-profits from around the globe, and 2018 is no exception. While some campaigns worked to shine a light on violence against the most marginalised groups of women, others took forward the Me Too movement in their own unique way.
We acknowledge that anti-VAW campaigners put themselves in perilous situations to advocate for the safety of others and we are immeasurably grateful for their bravery. From women marching the streets to women combating harassment online, each and every action, large or small, counts.
So today, in honour of all VAW activists, non-profits and grassroots groups who toil in such thankless situations to bring about positive change to the lives of women and girls facing violence, we present 16 of the most striking campaigns/programmes we have come across in the last year of our work.
What these campaigns have in common are:
- The built-in “water-cooler” factor that gets the community buzzing about the campaign and, by extension, the issue of VAW.
- A good sense of what works in and for the culture and community where the activist/nonprofit/grassroots group is trying to effect change.
We hope that these campaigns and initiatives inspire you to take action and get on board the cause to end VAW.
It’s time to stop violence against women. Together.
Introduction by Regina Yau. Written and compiled by Rubina Singh
Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #1: #Abaya_Insideout – Saudi Arabia
Women in Saudi Arabia have been protesting against the fact that they are expected to wear an abaya and hijab in public. After the relaxation of driving rules a while ago, women were campaigning for reform of the forceful dress code as well. A recent Twitter campaign using the hashtag “#Abaya_Insideout” became a form of peaceful protest against this regulation where women are photographing themselves wearing inside out abayas.
Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #2: All-Women Cycle Rallies – Pakistan
In an effort to protest against street harassment and exercise their right to occupy public spaces, some women in Pakistan carried out women-only cycle rallies across various cities in the country. “Our strategy is simply to be visible in public spaces,” said Meher Bano of Girls at Dhabas, a feminist group that organised the races after a woman from Lahore was pushed off her bicycle by a group of men last year for not responding to catcalls.
What a liberating Sunday it was, riding with these warriors through the very streets where I have been groped, harassed, cat called and stared at in the past! Guess what guys, your #TimesUp !!! #girlsonbikes #reclaimpublicspaces kudos to @girlsondhabas for 3rd annual rally! pic.twitter.com/LDLTpf63jQ
— MEESHA SHAFI (@itsmeeshashafi) April 2, 2018
Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #3: Be Frank – The Netherlands
Two Dutch filmmakers have created a video campaign highlighting the high instances of VAW in mainstream pornography. Damayanti Dipayana and Camilla Borel-Rinkes shared a summary of a sexual encounter and asked men if it was a porn scene or a personal story about sexual assault. In their film, Be Frank, they showthe how much of the porn available online showcases aggression and violence towards women and how men learn to normalise abusive experiences through these films.
Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #4: Campaign against Hidden Camera Pornography – South Korea
Many women are unknowingly filmed in public spaces in South Korea by hidden or spy cameras.Porn films showcase footage of women on toilets, on escalators or stairs, hotel rooms and various other seemingly private spaces. Tired of living in constant fear of being filmed, more than 20,000 women came together in Seoul to protest against this practice and urge the government to take stringent action.
Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #5: Campaign to end ‘sexual cleansing’ of widows – Kenya
A custom in Kenya and some other African nations believes that widows are impure and they must be cleansed after their husbands’ death. The ‘cleansing’ involves having sex with a male relative or stranger among other humiliating practices such as shaving the widow’s head and burning her clothes. Widow abuse is hardly talked about but organisations such as the Rona Foundation are working to change that with many international agencies covering their struggles.
Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #6: Counting Dead Women – Australia
Counting Dead Women is an initiative of the organisation Destroy the Joint which aims to research, record and publish every reported incident of a woman’s death due to VAW. Through this campaign, they are bringing many cases of femicide to light in Australia as well as providing helpful resources to women who are facing VAW. As of November 2018, they have recorded 62 women’s deaths as being a direct cause of VAW.
Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #7: I Will End FGM – Across Africa
The Girl Generation along with many other organisations and youth groups from various African nations initiated a campaign against FGM across the continent. Using the hashtags “#EndFGM” and “#IHaveSpoken”, the campaign hopes to spark a million conversations around FGM to break the silence about this heinous practice.
Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #8: Let Her Work – Brazil
Using the hashtag “#LetHerWork” or “#DeixaElaTrabalhar”, Brazilian sports journalists ran a campaign to bring attention to the sexual harassment and abuse they deal with during work. The campaign demands respect and a harassment-free work experience for women sports journalists.
Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #9: List of Known Sexual Harassers in Academia – United States of America
Julie Libarkin, a professor at Michigan State University, has compiled a list of more than 700 cases of sexual misconduct in academia. Talking about why she started the database, Libarking said, “I think one of the biggest problems with sexual misconduct is that there’s no way to know if anyone experienced that before you…There’s really no way to find out this information. I want people to be able to look at these names”.
Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #10: Me Too India – India
What started last year with Raya Sarkar’s list of sexual harassment accused became an even bigger movement across India this year. Stories have emerged from the worlds of film, journalism, academics, politics, advertising, design, art and many others. The impact of these stories has led to some positive change where many influential men accused of sexual harassment have stepped down from their professional posts, including former Minister of State for External Affairs M J Akbar.
Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #11: #Mitu – China
Despite strict internet censorship, women in China led their own version of the Me Too movement. Using the hashtag “#Mitu” which means ‘rice bunny’ and “#Woyeshi”, which means ‘me too’, Chinese women shared their stories about VAW without garnering the wrath of the censors. The stories have already managed to bring about some change with new policies being introduced to curb sexual harassment in university campuses.
Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #12: The Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Database – Canada and United States of America
Annita Lucchesi, a descendant of the Cheyenne Tribe, has started a database that collates information about missing and murdered indigenous girls, women and two spirit people in Canada and the USA from 1900 to the present. Talking about the need for such a database, Lucchesi said, “I found that there really wasn’t any comprehensive information on this issue. And there was no number that we could all agree on. There was no research bringing together both countries or doing a longer historical look. There were lists online and projects that had been put together, but none of them matched.”
Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #13: The Not-So-Beautiful Game – United Kingdom
In a hard-hitting campaign, UK’s National Centre of Domestic Violence wanted to highlight the increase in incidents of domestic violence during sporting events. Their reports show that domestic violence increases irrespective of whether England wins or loses. There is a 38% increase in domestic violence reports when England loses a match and a 26% increase when England wins or draws. Their campaign depicted the flags of countries, such as England, Japan and Switzerland, on the faces of battered women, and released the visuals on the day of the country’s match during the World Cup.
Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #14: This is Not Consent – Ireland
In the rape trial of a 27-year-old man in Ireland, the 17-year-old victim’s lacy underwear was cited as proof of consent , leading to the acquittal of the accused. Protests erupted across the nation using the hashtag “#Thisisnotconsent”, where women brought thongs and lacy undergarments to the streets and social media to protest against persistent victim blaming in cases of VAW. Even the Irish MP Ruth Coppinger joined the protests and brought a thong to Parliament.
Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #15: Warning systems in airport toilets to curb FGM – United Kingdom
To provide support to possible victims of forced marriages, female genital mutilation (FGM), child sexual abuse, and other forms of VAW, the Birmingham Airport authorities in the UK have installed a colour coded sticker system in women’s toilet cubicles. Women who enter the cubicle can call the number mentioned on the sticker and get help. The colour of the sticker in each cubicle is different, allowing authorities to identify the correct cubicle and offer support.
Striking Anti-VAW Campaign #16: Women’s Day Strike – Spain
More than 5 million women gathered to protest against gender inequality, discrimination, and VAW on International Women’s Day 2018 in Spain. The protest involved a 24-hour strike where women abstained from doing any work under the slogan, “If we stop, the world stops”. Many prominent women supported the strike, including the Mayors of Madrid and Barcelona.
All pictures used are Creative Commons images (from top to bottom):
- Picture 1: Photo by Rosemary Ketchum from Pexels