WomenBeing: International Feminist Research Magazine (Issue 2)

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MARCH 2022













Dear Reader


e are pleased to share the second issue of WomenBeing Magazine with you. We are the first feminist research magazine in the UK supporting women across the world who are researching or working in the women’s rights field. At the moment of publishing this issue, governments, organisations, lawmakers and profiteers are eroding and blocking women’s rights in an angry backlash, which is evidence that progress already made can be easily reversed. We cannot stop our fight for women’s rights. We are all constrained in how and where we can mobilise during this time of pandemic, yet, we’re better connected than ever. We can close that gap by engaging in activism and solidarity through technology. It’s our duty to amplify the stories and research about the lives and experiences of marginalised women. Through the connections we are making we can create an unstoppable momentum and make women safer, ultimately creating a world where opportunities are accessible to more of us. The topic of this issue is Violence Against Women. Throughout the whole content, including poetry, artwork, interviews and research, we offer a connection between different ways of expressing feminist views.

So much has changed in the world since we published our first issue at the end of 2019. Throughout the pandemic, many changes took place in our own lives. For our team, there were challenges, ups and downs, but there was also positive news: many of us found jobs that we love, others finished university degrees, others have embarked on their path into the world of postgrads. Creative practises were begun and developed. We are thankful to live where we live, we acknowledge our privilege, and we want to use it to continue sharing the amazing research, stories and art we publish on the WomenBeing platform. We would like to thank everyone who made this second issue possible, from our wonderful and knowledgeable team to our talented writers and artists. WomenBeing is run entirely by volunteers and the time and work donated so generously is helping us to reach our worldwide audience. We hope you enjoy reading WomenBeing magazine. Thank you for your support.

Yours sincerely, WomenBeing Team

Editorial Directors Belén González Leggire Elizabeth Connaughton Mairead Gardner

Associate Editors Kat Dlugosz Professor Claire Seaman Chantal Mrimi

Sub Editors Erin Lynch Katharina Heisig

Creative Director & Magazine Designer Narcisa Gambier

Publishing consultant Mary Hogarth, Managing Director, The Magazine Expert Ltd Web & Social Media Editor Lucy Donnelly Cover Illustration Marta Nunes

Let's keep in touch.

illustrated by Narcisa Gambier

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The opinion and views expressed in each article are the opinions of its authors and interviewees and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of WomenBeing Magazine and its editorial members. Therefore, WomenBeing Magazine carries no responsibility for the opinions expressed thereon.

Special thanks to all the contributors / co-creators, and everyone who supports WomenBeing.

You may not publish, display, disclose, lease, modify, loan, distribute, or create derivative works based on the magazine contents or any part thereof, whether by yourself or as a consultant, employee, partner or in any other role without the written permission of the publisher. WomenBeing is a trademarked company; all rights reserved by the publisher.


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What people have been saying



Good news since we publish our first issue Research and documentation of femi(ni)cide in Germany Aleida Pinelo


Structural existence and functional acceptance of honour killing in tribal regions of Pakistan Arshad Khan Bangash


Still here. Still hopeful. The importance of community-driven approaches to prevent violence against women Chay Brown


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Lois Langmead

Marina Joncic


Turning adversity to advantage? Everyday struggles of Zimbabwean commercial sex workers Chipo Hungwe When a Rape Case Gets Derailed: Depicting Flawed Investigation in Unbelievable Anxhela Filaj Access to Justice for Women and Girls: The Case of Victims of Sexual and Gender-Based Crimes in Southeast Asia Asia Francesca Braga Police intervention in domestic violence: A cure or a curse for abused women in Nigeria Ifafoye Olajumoke

29, 48, 94 Inês Pinto

54, 88, 89 59 Narcisa Gambier

Sejin Moo




56 60 62 68 74

Approaches to tackling genderbased violence in Nigeria Ifafoye Olajumoke


80 87

Villanelle Isabel Bouwman The Spit it out Project: Breaking taboos and healing through creativity Interview with Bee and Lea

90 96

#europetoo Lisa Settari Mis-understanding feminism, backlash and privileged disgruntlement: the relationship between anti-feminist backlash and right-wing extremism Lucy Nicholas, Chris Agius & Kay Cook

Something is wrong with #Feminism Samahara Hernandez The wake Tyler Durden Breaking normative barriers: Kenyan women’s resistance to sexual IPV Victoria Kiasyo Isika The experience of women with disabilities and intimate partner abuse Dr Yvette Basson

102 Contributors





Monika Alff

Maria Garcia

Marta Nunes

Sylwia Kowalczyk

What people have been saying


illustrated by Inês Pinto

Wonderful mix of presentations, exhibition, films, research, organisational work, and interesting mix of different perspectives and participants.

It looks really beautiful and I feel honoured to be in its pages! Contributor issue 1 WomenBeing Magazine

Delegate of our second international conference

I loved Monica, Marina and Kat the most. They’re the best! The conference was full of amazing people and they were very kind and very knowledgeable. I met amazing people.

I loved the way the staff approached each of the participants and made us feel part of a friendly environment although that was the first time we met. I also appreciated the diversity of the topics presented. I wish it never ended because I really enjoyed a lot being there :) Delegate of our second international conference

I am glad that I contributed to this amazing women’s magazine. Thank you for sharing my story and work. Contributor issue 1 WomenBeing Magazine

Delegate of our second international conference


New ideas for research, networking, dynamic presenters and nice staff. Delegate of our second international conference

I just want to say keep doing what you’re doing, I think the magazine is an amazing and important project, the content is informative and interesting, but it is also beautifully designed - this makes it a unique product and I can’t wait to see what you do next.

Anonymous, answer to our audience survey

Anonymous, answer to our audience survey

I think it’s a great initiative. A women’s centric magazine bringing racially and culturally diverse women together to a common platform in forging transnational networks.

Good news since we published our first issue

Kamala Harris is the first woman elected US vice-president

Scotland becomes first nation to provide free period products

Harvey Weinstein jailed in rape trial


Sudan criminalises female genital mutilation

Costa Rica allows same-sex marriages

Argentina legalize abortion

S ince our first issue launched in November 2019, there have been a lot of developments concerning women’s rights issues around the world. Here, we’ve brought together some positive stories to demonstrate that, even in a year like 2020, change is possible.

Sanna Marin to be youngest ever prime minister

South Korea proposes compromise abortion law Iran approves bill to combat violence against women


Pakistan anti-rape ordinance signed into law Saudi women’s rights activist released from prison New Zealand approves paid leave after miscarriage

New Zealand appoints country’s first Indigenous female foreign minister

femi(ni)cide, violence


photography by Elina Krima @elinakrima

Research and documentation of femi(ni)cide in Germany


Aleida Pinelo


n the last few years, European governments have more intensely developed strategies to fight violence against women in their own territories. One sign of this is the Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence – also called the Istanbul Convention – which was implemented in 2011. This legally binding agreement obligates governments of signatory countries to adopt concrete and comprehensive plans to combat, protect against, and ultimately eliminate all forms of violence against women, and domestic violence. The impact of this Convention is somewhat undermined by the fact that it failed to deal with one of the most extreme forms of violence against women: femi(ni) cide. Femi(ni)cide (spelt this way in order to include both sides of an ongoing debate over whether to call it ‘femicide’ or ‘feminicide’1) can be understood as ‘the murder of women because they are women.’2 However, not all killings of women are femi(ni)cides: that is to say, ‘not all killings of women are motivated by the construction of unequal relations of power.’3 For example, if a criminal detonates a bomb in a shop and women are killed as a result, one cannot say it was a femi(ni)cide. However, someone is targeted for being a woman and that characteristic motivates the crime, then that constitutes a femi(ni)cide. An example would be if a husband, motivated by a sense of ownership, killed his wife.

Women’s organizations and international bodies have pointed out the rise of violence against women in Europe, and along with it, the increase in the number of femi(ni) cides. Although Europe keeps no official statistics on femi(ni)cides, the increase becomes clear if we look at the increasing numbers of deaths in the context of violence within relationships. What we call ‘intimate femi(ni)cide’ refers to cases in which the victim and the perpetrator had an intimate relationship history, such as a married couple, or ex-partners.4 This type of femi(ni)cide tends to represent more than half of the total number of femi(ni)cides.5 If it is increasing, this might suggest that the measures implemented by governments in this field are not effective. My doctoral research addresses the following general question:

What kind of work does the concept of femi(ni)cide do, and what kind of work might do, in political and legal spheres in Europe? For this research, I use femi(ni)cide in Germany as a case study. Germany to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime concerning femi(ni)cides in its own territory: ‘Femicide (understood as the killing of women simply because of their gender and to which there is little or no state reaction) is not a phenomenon which can be found in Germany’. 8 If we try to understand the above statement, we might first assume that the entire subject of femi(ni)cide is unknown in Germany.

My interest in researching femi(ni)cide in Germany started in 2011, when I became aware of the murders of women from the Américas by their German (ex-)partners.6 These followed a similar pattern: the victims were women who moved to Germany for love, but found that their social networks and communication skills were very limited there. 7 I was well-acquainted with the concept of femi(ni)cide due to my lived experience in Mexico (where the subject of femi(ni)cide is widely known), and my participation as a contributor to the project Feminicidio.net. In my opinion, these cases were clearly femi(ni)cides, but the German authorities included them in the general statistics of homicides, categorizing them as either murder or, more commonly, manslaughter. Why didn’t Germany name these crimes as femi(ni)cides? Is there any research in Germany on this subject? And why is there no data on these crimes available? After these initial questions, a second turning point came some years later when I encountered a statement from

However, since 2006, the European Union has taken an active role in supporting Mexico and Central American countries in fighting against ‘feminicide’. 9 For this very reason the Heinrich Böll Foundation in Germany has organized multiple conferences, promoting international dialogue between the Américas and Europe for tackling femi(ni)cide in both regions. This cooperation shows that Europe, including Germany, fully understands the concept of femi(ni)cide, begging the question: why will Germany not admit the problem exists in its own territory?


For further information on this debate, see Aleida Luján Pinelo, ‘A theoretical approach to the concept of femicide/feminicide’ (MA thesis, Utrecht University, 2015).



Graciela Atencio, ed. 2017. Femicides and other murders of women in Spain: Annual report 2015. Vienna: Special UN Edition-ACUNS. pp. 25.

One of these cases has been adapted by the director Frieder Schlaich in her film Naomis Reise. The film is worth watching, because it illustrates some of the racist stereotypes embedded in the judicial system in Germany.


I don’t mean to say, though, that all cases of binational relationships follow this same pattern.


United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. 2014. Statement by Germany on the investigation and prosecution of gender-related killings of women and girls (Annex). Available here. [Accessed 18 March 2021].


Romeva i Rueda, Raül. 2007. Murder of Women in Central America and Mexico and the European Union’s role in preventing this, 2007/2025(INI), Brussels: European Parliament. Available here. [Accessed 18 March 2021].


Aleida Luján Pinelo. 2018.A theoretical approach to the concept of femi(ni)cide. Philosophical Journal of Conflict and Violence 2, no. 1.


See Diana Russell and Roberta Harmes, eds., Femicide in Global Perspective (New York/London: Teachers College Press, 2001). pp. 18.


See Graciela Atencio, ed., Feminicidio: De la categoría político-jurídica a la justicia universal (Madrid: catarata, 2015).pp. 32; and Diana Russell and Jane Caputi. 1990. Femicide: Speaking the Unspeakable. Ms Magazine 1, no. 2. pp. 34–37.



When talking about femi(ni)cide, many people think first of Mexico and other countries in the Américas. Some identify this problem with Asian countries such as China, or African countries such as South Africa. The commonality is that people usually consider this phenomenon to be a problem of the global south alone.10 When I speak to German people about my research and the fact that it is focused on Europe, there are many different reactions, but the most prevalent is, ‘Oh! Yes, in Spain’, and some might also add, ‘Italy!’ When I clarify that my research focuses on Germany, the first reaction usually is, ‘Does this happen in Germany?’ When I say yes, the ‘natural’ response is, ‘Ah! Among migrants’. While this evidence is anecdotal, it helps shed light on the problem faced here. Femi(ni) cide is seen as a phenomenon that cannot be found in countries of the global north, and when one does find it, it is because of migration. However, evidence gathered in the course of my research contradicts this. In terms of all types of violence within relationships in 2019, male German nationals represented approximately 51% of the total perpetrators. The total proportion of female victims is 81% (although it was not possible to distinguish how many of these were German nationals). 11 This case of ‘othering’ illustrates a belittling of the problem and a lack of accountability for these crimes. When Italy and Spain started to recognize the phenomenon, the data they generated began to dismantle the idea that femi(ni)cide, when it happens in Europe, is due to migration alone. My hypothesis is that as the awareness of occurrences of femi(ni)cide in Spain and Italy increased, northern European countries, including Germany, began to ‘other’ Mediterranean countries, just as they did to the global south. The mindset that femi(ni)cide is not a German problem but one which belongs to southern cultures, shows how far Germany – and Europe – is from deconstructing their colonialist views towards the global south.12 My research starts with an analysis of the concept of femi(ni)cide itself: What do we mean when we name femi(ni)cide? 13 The second part of my research is a cartography of the socio-political concept and legal category of femi(ni)cide and how it is being

discussed currently in Europe. I continue with a policy analysis: To what extent could the use of the political concept of femi(ni)cide improve the functioning of public policies in Germany? Finally, I address the questions, What can be said about the current situation of femi(ni)cide in Germany? What types of femi(ni)cides can one find in this part of the world? In order to answer this last point, I decided to start documenting femi(ni)cide in Germany. The online database Geofeminicidio helped me to recognise the importance of documenting femi(ni)cide. It was created by an Argentinian journalist and feminist, Graciela Atencio, who covered ‘feminicides’ in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico in the early 2000s. She settled in Spain, and on November 25, 2010, launched Geofeminicidio, an application for online quantitative and qualitative documentation of ‘feminicides’. This database registers ‘feminicide’ – not limited to intimate femi(ni)cide – and other killings of women by men; provides geographically referenced information about cases; and automatically produces reports and graphics. This database is said to be influenced by Julia Monárrez’s database for Ciudad Juárez, 14 but was updated and adapted by Atencio. Geofeminicidio became the first database of its kind in Europe, 15 and since then has contributed to creating awareness of ‘feminicide’ in Europe, especially in Spain. It is with this background, and with the motivation and help of a developer and a researcher, that in 2018, we started to organize and develop our database on femi(ni)cide in Germany: Feminizidmap. Our analysis team has started to document all killings of women and femi(ni)cides occurring in German territory since 2019. We work with a broad definition of femi(ni) cide, meaning that we not only document intimate femi(ni)cide but other types too, such as racist, family, child, transphobic, and prostitution-related femi(ni)cide. We have adopted the approach of both Russell and Monárrez, who suggest that different types of killings might require different solutions. For example, restraining orders, typically used to handle intimate femi(ni)cide, might not be helpful for cases of prostitution-related femi(ni)cide.

Therefore we need to identify different types of femi(ni)cide and how best to tackle each one. It is important to highlight that each type is not discrete but rather dynamic – in other words, it’s possible for a single case to overlap different types of femi(ni)cide. 16 Furthermore, we take an intersectional approach and refuse to allow the instrumentalization of this issue for racist political agendas. We take knowledge production of the global south seriously. This means that we discuss and make use of the theories produced by thinkers from the global south, analyze and implement some of their methodologies developed for the study of femi(ni)cide, and try to keep up to date and in contact with the initiatives going on in different regions, without forgetting the need to put experiences and knowledge into context. 17 We also encourage active civil participation, by networking with different women’s organizations and providing a venue for anyone to personally report a case. We consider it to be the state’s duty to do

this kind of work and fund these kinds of initiatives. However, because addressing this issue is so urgent, we run this project on a voluntary capacity, although we aim to make it economically sustainable. It is motivating to see how in the last few years, awareness of femi(ni)cide in Europe has started to increase, not only at the academic level but also at the level of grassroot activism. I hope that my research can contribute to these discussions; most importantly from a decolonial perspective, so that femi(ni)cide is not again reduced to the colonial narratives and rationalities that reproduce authoritative power over others, and appropriate experiences and knowledge instead of working in collaboration. The phenomenon of femi(ni)cide is complex and those complexities need to be addressed in their entirety. I hope our project, Feminizidmap, can contribute to this and critically explore possible solutions to this phenomenon in Germany.


10. This scenario has started to change in the last few years in countries such as the UK and Germany itself. 11.

These figures on male perpetrators are of my own, and are subject to verification. This is due to the absence of accurate information on this regard in the report. Still, there are many questions and critiques that can be asked of the methodology of this report. See Bundeskriminalamt, Partnerschaftsgewalt kriminalstatistische auswertung – berichtsjahr 2019 (Wiesaden: Bundeskriminalamt, 2020).

12. Meaning establishing different connections, dialogues, and narratives that do not follow the same colonial patterns that historically the global north has imposed on the global south. See for example Aníbal Quijano. 1992. Colonialidad y modernidad/racionalidad. Perú Indíg.13, no. 29. pp.11-20; and, particularly about violence against women in the EU, Celeste Montoya and Lise Rolandsen Agustín. 2013. The Othering of Domestic Violence: The EU and Cultural Framings of Violence against Women. Social Politics 20, no. 4. pp.534557. 13. See Luján Pinelo, ‘A theoretical approach to the concept of femi(ni)cide’.

14. Monárrez was the first researcher to develop a systematic geo-referential database on ‘feminicide’. She did it for the period 1993–2004 for the Mexican region of Ciudad Juárez. Monárrez acknowledges that Esther Chávez Cano was the first person who started to keep a record of the numbers of ‘feminicides’ in Ciudad Juárez, using newspapers as sources. See Julia Monárrez. 2009. Trama de una injusticia: Feminicidio sexual sistémico en Ciudad Juárez. Mexico: Colegio de la Frontera Norte / Porrúa. pp. 90–91. 15. This does not mean that other projects, such as Eurostat, might not have data on killings which is disaggregated between sexes. But, using the paradigm of femi(ni)cide implies not only disaggregating data between sexes but also acknowledging the unequal power structures in which the subjects (women) are placed on the subordinated side of the structure. See Russell and Harmes, Femicide in Global Perspective. 16. Russell and Harmes, Femicide in Global Perspective, pp. 18. 17. For ‘politics of location’ see e.g. Adriene Rich, and for ‘situated knowledges’, Donna Haraway.

artwork by Lois Langmead


I’m referencing mostly myself in drawings at the moment because Covid is forcing us to spend too much time with ourselves, for this drawing I was actually thinking about all the women who have not been believed, what happens when we disbelieve women, the haunting losses to humanity and what these infinite silences represent. Lois Langmead 2021 Charcoal and pastel on fabriano paper 81.4 × 59.4cms

TW violence, murder, rape


Structural existence and functional acceptance of honour killing in tribal regions of Pakistan photography by Sara Rolin on Unsplash

Arshad Khan Bangash


he term ‘honour’ has a number of definitions, such as high esteem, respect, reverence, reputation and good name, which measure an individual’s social standing and prestige within society and depend upon the collective communal views of a person. In other words, honour means the feeling of admiration or respect for someone based on communal rules or ethical principles that define honourable deeds within that community. Honour is much more noticed for its absence than its presence. Honour killing is the deliberate murder of a woman, mostly committed by male family members or relatives, for either actual or perceived illegitimate sexual relationships and behaviours, the denial of an arranged or forced marriage, falling victim to a sexual assault, extramarital affairs, the desire to seek employment, divorce and disobedience towards the family patriarch, amongst many other examples. The term is often used interchangeably with the terms femicide, honour crimes, crimes of honour or crimes of traditions. Honourbased murders are not limited to women - men are also subjected to honour killing in some parts of the world. However, male honour killings are rare and the aggrieved parties are typically viewed as collateral victims.

The long-standing history of honour killing reflects that honour crimes are supported by traditional, normative and customary practices in some cultures and can be traced back to Pre-Islamic era and primitive cultures of the desert tribes. Although honour killing was the product of ancient customs and traditions in Pakistan, it continues to exist as ‘Siyahkari’ in Baluchistan, ‘Karo-Kari’ in Sindh, ‘KalaKali’ in southern parts of Punjab and ‘Tor-Tora’ in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The available statistics show that Pakistani honour killings account for one-fifth of the total number of cases around the world. Honour killing is deeply rooted in all parts and major cultures of the Pakistani society; it is endorsed by customs, recognized by behaviours, inscribed in the cultural patterns and, although identified using different names, equally accepted by all sub-cultures and ethnic groups.

Honour killing in Pakistan is usually perpetrated within the framework of patriarchy, with the justification that it is necessary to protect the social construction of honour-based norms, traditions and values. It revolves around the idea that women are subordinate to men and their public and private behaviour can be determined by male family members. Men collectively dominate women, and they are the main beneficiaries of women’s subordination. The core means of sustaining this patriarchal culture are sexuality and reproduction. Through sexuality, men impose their view of femininity on women. In this way, women internalise their roles as per prototypical feminine sexuality according to the normative structure, which could further provide the basis for the survival of patriarchal structures. This deeply enshrined patriarchal system further conceptualises men’s right to kill women for any undesirable violation or other offences. Other socio-cultural factors, enshrined by customs and traditions, also help promote honour killings in different parts of Pakistan. For example, the concept of honour killing is also linked to the physical bodies of women, which are generally considered to be communal and manipulable by men. Thus, women’s bodies do not belong to them and they have little or no claim over their existence and life in tribal society. Moreover, honour killing usually takes place inside the family; as such, many state authorities consider it a private matter in the pretext of non-intervention. Pakistani tribal societies are no exception to it either most killings either go unpunished or receive a mild penalty. The state police, legal system, and community members are much lenient toward the perpetrators of honour killing. Generally, they pardon it under the guise of tradition and cultural norms. Indeed, legal responses to honour killing are seen as exceptional with tacit support from traditional dynamics within state institutions.


Honour killing can also be considered an economic crime because women become an easy target of killing due to property, inheritance and land dispute. Sociological investigation shows that the normative claim about honour killing is often mixed up with other socio-economic and political motives. As such, familial honour is tied to economic opportunities, social mobility, and standing. Several other factors also contribute to the promotion of honour killing, including illiteracy, control over women, family name, and concepts of shame, honour, and family reputation. These types of crimes are distinct from other crimes as they are tied to men’s ability to control women. While the focus of this article is the structural existence and functional acceptance of honour killing, as discussed further below, the contribution of these various other factors must also be acknowledged.


Social aspects are often misunderstood by intermingling them with cultural fabrics of a social system. Pakhtun tribal structural and functional dynamics are complex, interrelated and almost indispensable in many spheres of life. Men in tribal society strongly believe in the chastity and virginity of a woman and these views are deeply rooted in the social system of Pakhtun culture. Violations of chastity are unfailingly met with harsh consequences. For example a newly-wedded woman is supposed to present bed sheets stained with blood to prove her virginity - failure to do so is feared and results in dreadful outcomes, including death. Maintaining virtues such as chastity, modesty and virginity has a sound and deep embodiment in cultural and religious perspectives and deviations from them are often met with negative social sanctions in the form of killings. Women in tribal culture are also put to death for their perceived illegitimate relations beyond the marriage agreement. Tribal women’s behaviour is constantly under the surveillance of their families; deviations to any established norms, particularly in relation to modesty and illicit relations, have to be met with strict consequences.

Killing on suspicious grounds is mainly the outcome of ‘Paighoor’ (taunt), which performs a dual role of social regulation and social integration. Tribal people also have to adhere strictly to customary laws, practices and traditions about honour, and theirs is a leading example of a live culture which has been consistently resistant to incorporating any traits of an alien culture. Patriarchy and men’s dominance have also eroded any chance of cultural assimilation. In this respect, honour killing has a cultural background, which is deeply intermingled in the tribal structure and characterised by feudal and patriarchal ways of social life. Strict adherence to the prevalent customary practices could be adjudged to the social cohesion and integration of the social structure. Failing to adapt may lead to the emergence of fissures in the social structure. Killing someone in tribal society often results in feud and friction for many years but killing for the sake of honour rarely has such consequences; it is believed that the lost honour due to women’s immoral deeds can only be restored with her blood. In this way, honour killing is a legal act, binding on each member of the prevalent social system. In the near past, the writ of the state was not extended to the tribal regions of the country and their day to day affairs were run through customary practices. In some parts of tribal areas, these customary practices were black and white, known as ‘Turizuna’, which states that ‘whoever is found committing sexual intercourse with any married woman or a widow or a virgin, both the woman and man had to be killed on the spot.’ Such provision left little space for revenge in case of honour murders. Spreading false rumours about dishonouring is intolerable in tribal society and such acts have led to the unabated war within the affected families and their respective lineages. Presentation of dishonouring in the media also further enhances the likelihood of honour killing. Honour related issues are so personal and shameful, that debating them in public is almost intolerable for males from the aggrieved family. This could be attributed to the

strong and rigid cultural dynamics, where rumours pertaining to honour are often socially unbearable. Whispering about a woman is almost tantamount to bringing a shameful situation upon her family. The strong homogeneous structure of tribal society prevents rumours from creeping in, as those found to be sharing them can meet dire consequences. Any rumour must have some circumstantial evidence to support it. In other words, rumours may produce social pressure which will tarnish the image and social status of that particular family. In order to remove this stigma from the family threshold, the family members often kill the woman along with her alleged partner. However, if the issue is confirmed to be a false rumour, the creator of the rumour will bear the consequences alone. Further, patriarchy is the leading social characteristic of tribal culture and men enjoy enormous privileges like the possession of property, deciding over any matter pertaining to the social, economic and legal aspects of life, particularly in relation to women. Women’s status in tribal culture is highly volatile whereas men have complete authority over women in every aspect of life and their personal relations in particular. Tribal men are socialised to control women and protect their family honour, and those are indirectly inculcated masculine traits. As a result, men exert complete control over women. Structural and functional

inclinations towards men have also secluded and suppressed women, and hindered their access to the basic amenities of life. The perpetrators of honour killings are often implicitly appreciated and praised by the community. This praise is not given openly, as such issues are obviously sensitive in nature. However, their act is recognised as an alternative for washing ‘Tor’ or stigma from the female honour, and the person who commits such an act is socially appreciated. In contrast, the community never treats the male adulterer’s family members as cowards if they fail to take action against the offenders of honour norms. That is because the killing of the offender was tantamount to masculinity, acquiring esteem and enjoying respect, which was lost due to a woman’s act of dishonour. This could be the possible reason that usually honour killing is a female-oriented phenomenon, although the male offender is often disowned by his family as well. Both male and female (offenders) have to face the consequences of their actions, to compensate for their family’s loss of honour. In short, it is concluded that in tribal society honour killings are treated as a normal phenomena, and apply to both genders; however, women are significantly more vulnerable than men. This is based on the concept of blood purification sanctioned by culture: the stigma of honour violation is removed by killing the offenders.

For more information, please see: Arshad Khan Bangash & Niaz Muhammad “Honour Killing in Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan: A Perceptional Study in Kurram Agency “ Pakistan Journal of Criminology Vol. 9, Issue 3, July 2017 (100-113)


photography by Marina Joncic


TW violence, sexual assault

Still here. Still hopeful.

The importance of communitydriven approaches to prevent violence against women Chay Brown

Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research, Australian National University

With Indigenous women overrepresented as victims of domestic, family and sexual violence (DFSV) across the world, Chay Brown focuses on what this means in Australia’s Northern Territory. Looking at the unique context of the area, Chay explores principles of good practice developed in the ‘what works to prevent violence against women in Australia’s Northern Territory’ research project.


A global problem

iolence against women (VAW) is a global problem that affects every social, economic and ethnic group. VAW is an umbrella term that covers many different types of violence, but the two most common forms are physical intimate partner violence and sexual violence (Bott, Morrison and Ellsberg, 2005). In Australia, these forms of violence are usually referred to as domestic, family and sexual violence (DFSV). In Australia, one in three women have experienced physical violence since the age of fifteen, and one in five women have experienced sexual violence (Our Watch, 2016). Evidence about the scale of VAW in Australia continues to grow and the evidence clearly shows that domestic, family and sexual violence is gendered – men are the primary perpetrators of this violence, and their victims are mainly women and children (ANROWS, 2019). Globally, Indigenous women are overrepresented as DFSV victims (Manjoo, 2012; The Northern Territory Government, 2018). In Australia, Indigenous1 women are far more likely to be hospitalised or killed due to DFSV than non-Indigenous women or Indigenous men (Our Watch, 2016). Violence is the highest health risk factor for Indigenous women between the ages of 18 and 44 – above smoking, drinking or obesity (Our Watch, 2018).

Whilst the national picture is alarming, the scale and severity of VAW is higher in Australia’s Northern Territory. The Northern Territory has the highest rates of DFSV in Australia (The Northern Territory Government, 2018). The Northern Territory has a population of fewer than 250,000 people, yet police typically attend 61 incidents of domestic and family violence every day (The Northern Territory Government, 2018). Indigenous women in the Northern Territory have been found to be hospitalised due to assault as much as 69 times the rate of non-Indigenous women (Havnen, 2012). Aboriginal women in the Northern Territory have the highest rate of DFSV victimisation of any group in the entire world (The Northern Territory Government, 2018). These facts and statistics clearly illustrate the scale of VAW throughout the world, particularly in the Northern Territory, but reveal little about its severity. Experiences of violence are compounded by additional barriers and complexities which exist in the Northern Territory. 23 Darwin

Northern Territory Queensland Western Australia


South Australia

Perth Adelaide

New South Wales




The term ‘Indigenous’ is used in reference to First Nations people throughout the world; in the Australian context, this term refers to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.



Tasmania Hobart

The local context In the Northern Territory, contextual complexities mean that mainstream responses to VAW are largely ineffective. Factors which set the Northern Territory apart include:


extreme remoteness;

a high Indigenous population;

an extremely transient population;

a small population spread over a vast geographical space (0.16 people per kilometre);

a rich and complex cultural and linguistic context;

high rates of poverty and inequality;

lack of housing and infrastructure;

minimal access to goods and services.

The Northern Territory is also not an Australian state, which means that it does not have the same residual state powers and is more reliant on the Federal Government for funding and decisionmaking. This influences its relationship with the Australian federal government and has implications for organisations and staff working in the DFSV sector. There is a history of externally imposed interventions in the Northern Territory by the Federal Australian Government, as well as other organisations and actors which impose interventions from other contexts with minimal adaptation. This has created a culture of ‘suspicion and hostility’ towards outsiders. As a result, Northern Territorians feel a sense of powerlessness when it comes to decision-making. An example of this is the Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER) in 2007 which was led by the federal government in response to the cases of child sexual assault highlighted in the ‘Little Children are Sacred’ Report (Wild and Anderson, 2007). The NTER imposed a range of measures which had a sweeping and unintended impact on the Northern Territory, especially on Indigenous communities. One of these unintended consequences was an increased


reluctance to report sexual violence for fear of perpetuating harmful stereotypes of Indigenous men as violent abusers. Examples like this reflect why people in the Northern Territory often feel their local knowledge is dismissed and devalued by outsiders. The Northern Territory also has much stricter laws than other areas in Australia, which people from elsewhere do not necessarily appreciate. The most notable law relates to alcohol restrictions - alcohol is prohibited in much of the Northern Territory in what are called ‘dry zones’ (Northern Territory Government of Australia, 2020). In addition to this, a huge number of people in the Northern Territory are under ‘mandatory income management’ which quarantines 50% of income from certain forms of government income support. Mandatory income management is overwhelmingly targeted at Aboriginal people (Australian Government, 2019; Bray, Gray, Hand, & Katz, 2014). These are just a few of the measures and restrictions in place in the Northern Territory that have a serious impact on the way people live and have contributed to a significant cultural divide between ‘The Territory’ and other Australians. These factors shape and compound the high rates of DFSV in the Northern Territory. The primary response to VAW in the Northern Territory, as with elsewhere, is through mainstream crisis responses. Mainstream interventions often respond to DFSV by placing the responsibility on the woman to leave the abusive relationship for example, by providing shelters. However, such responses are often inappropriate in many Indigenous contexts in the Northern Territory where relationships are considered permanent and if a woman leaves, it could mean she is ‘off country’2 or it could sever her support networks. There can also be many social and cultural consequences for leaving a relationship. This can include reprisal violence, especially if her partner has been incarcerated.

‘Off-country’ is away from traditional lands, storylines, and ceremonial sites of Aboriginal people.

Moreover, many Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory are extremely small and remote, and have few services – many do not have police or phone service. This makes it difficult for Indigenous women in the Northern Territory to report violence. Participants in the ‘what works to prevent violence against women in Australia’s Northern Territory’ research project stated that fear of homelessness was a key reason why Indigenous women do not report. For many Indigenous women, seeking safety means travelling hundreds of kilometres, often with children, to a place that speaks a different language and has a different culture. There is also the monetary cost of fleeing violent relationships, such as travel, accessing services, and accommodation, which may not be affordable. These are significant obstacles for Indigenous women in the Northern Territory. VAW interventions are also made through the judicial system in the form of jail or domestic violence orders (DVOs). In the Northern Territory, DFSV is the biggest driver of incarceration (Criminal Justice Research and Statistics Unit, 2017). However, whilst in jail, men have little access to behaviour change interventions (there are only two Men’s Behaviour Change Programs in operation in the Northern Territory) so they often re-offend upon their release. Research participants shared stories in which men were released from

prison, assaulted their female partners the same day and returned to jail. The Northern Territory’s high rate of recidivism also highlights the ineffectiveness of a solely penal approach (Department of AttorneyGeneral and Justice, 2018). DVOs are also often ineffective in Indigenous contexts because they are written in complex terms which many Indigenous people struggle to understand (English is often the second or third language of Indigenous people in the Northern Territory). Research participants often said they believed DVOs ‘set people up to fail’ as they weren’t contextualised within real-life scenarios that people could understand. DVOs are also often ill-suited to Indigenous communities, which are so small, a woman may be living across the road from her abuser – or she will undoubtedly see him at the community store. Research participants linked DVOs to the high incarceration rates for Indigenous males in the Northern Territory, as a third breach of a DVO carries an automatic seven-day jail sentence. Research participants reported that DVOs were helpful for prosecutions, but they did not keep women safe. The ineffectiveness of these mainstream approaches to VAW shows that contextspecific principles and frameworks need to be developed, to guide violence prevention practice in the Northern Territory.

‘Hopeful, Together, Strong’ - a way forward The expertise of 297 Northern Territorians participated in the ‘what works to prevent violence against women in Australia’s Northern Territory’ research project, which culminated in a series of collaborative workshops conducted in the regional centres of the Northern Territory in mid-2019. These five workshops brought together stakeholders working in the DFSV sector to identify principles of good practice, to

guide program design and delivery. The workshops also developed indicators, specific to the context of the Northern Territory, which show what each principle would look like in practice. This produced a framework, entitled ‘Hopeful, Together, Strong’, to guide the design and delivery of DFSV prevention programs in the Northern Territory (Brown, 2019).


The workshop participants included stakeholders from advocacy groups, police, social workers, counsellors, lawyers, health workers, refuge workers, nurses, community development practitioners, and educators, among others. The first workshop was held with the Tangentyere Family Violence Prevention Program (TFVPP)3 which had been identified as a best practice model in the earlier stages of the research. Workshop participants were mainly members of the Tangentyere Women’s Family Safety Group, which is an anti-violence advocacy group of senior Aboriginal women. Throughout the research, the voices of Indigenous women were centred and prioritised to recognise their lived expertise and influence in their communities. In order for the principles to be of relevance and beneficence to Indigenous communities, it was important to deeply listen to Indigenous women about what they know works to prevent violence.


The TFVPP were given a list of principles of good practice, which included principles identified in the research, as well as those drawn from national and international literature on best practice. The TFVPP were invited to refine the list according to the importance for the Northern Territory. A shortlist of 32 principles was produced, which was then used in the proceeding four workshops throughout the Northern Territory. In these workshops, participants were asked to select nine principles they considered the most important for the Northern Territory. They were then invited to construct a ‘diamond nine’ (a diamond with five levels of priority) to show the importance of each principle, before writing a justification and developing practical indicators for each principle. The results were tallied to produce a final list of ten principles most important to prevent VAW in the Northern Territory. The justifications and indicators were compiled and analysed thematically and were presented in the final framework (Brown, 2019).


The Tangentyere Family Violence Prevention Program (TFVPP) was one of two case study programs used in the early stages of the research to identify current approaches to preventing VAW in the Northern Territory. The case study programs were used to identify the principles of good practice that were considered in the workshops. TFVPP is a holistic program that caters to women, children, and men; people who have been harmed and people who have caused harm; the program includes behaviour change for men and advocacy for survivors.

These principles are in order of priority. They are guided by the collective agreement to centre and prioritise the safety of women and children. Full details can be found in the ‘Hopeful, Together, Strong’ framework (Brown, 2019). These principles are vital to ensure the DFSV sector works from a shared understanding and approach to prevent VAW in the Northern Territory. This approach also represents a shift away from mainstream crisis responses, to preventative measures which seek to address risk factors and focus on the choice to use violence. These principles also recognise and harness Indigenous women’s expertise and knowledge about what is needed to prevent violence in their communities.


Caters to women, men, and children; takes a whole-of-community approach; addresses underlying gendered drivers of VAW/D FSV (Brown, 2019); adopts holistic approaches to the problem, enabling of service provision could be provided through a ‘one-stopshop’ model (Memmott et al, 2006)


Indigenous people involved in conception, design, and delivery; community owns, leads, and governs; engages and mobilises Indigenous community (Brown, 2019)


Works in a way that is respectful and celebrates Indigenous culture; builds relationships with community; listens to community and values their knowl edge and expertise (Brown, 2019); cultural safety; non-Indigenous organisa tions working as allies in culturally safe ways (Our Watch, 2018)


Trains the community to identify, intervene, and report VAW/DFSV; challenges attitudes which condone DSFV/VAW; models equal and respectful relationships(Brown, 2019); training– raising awareness, exploring values, developing skills (Humphreys, 2000); capacity building and the transference of skills (Memmott et al, 2006)


Has a gender lens and acknowledges the gendered nature of VAW/DFSV; uses an intersectional framework; is traumainformed and contextualises VAW/DFSV within ongoing colonisation. (Brown, 2019)


Non-judgemental and draws upon community assets; engages and strengthens social capital; strengthens and celebrates culture (Brown, 2019); prioritising and strengthening culture (Our Watch, 2018)


Long-term ongoing, well-funded government investment in community programs (TFVPP G2); has minimal layers of bureaucracy between the community-based project and the funding agency, and (Memmott et al, 2006); provides a small funding component to enable the development of a small core of people within the community who can take a long-term view of the problem (Memmott et al, 2006)

ACCOUNT ABILITY FOR MEN WHO USE VIOLENCE Challemges men’s use of violence; focuses on changing offenders’ behaviour; integrates and elevates survivors’ voices (Brown, 2019)


Sharing resources and information; refers and follows-up with other services; participates in multi-agency meetings and contributes to integrated responses and strategies (Brown, 2019); collective care working as allies rather than competitors (TFVPP G2)


Uses assertive outreach; assists people to overcome barriers to access; takes the program to where people are (Brown, 2019); accessibility, equality and responsiveness (The Northen Territory Government,2018)


Collaboration and community next steps for the Northern Territory Context-specific principles and frameworks are needed to ensure the needs of women experiencing violence are met, especially Indigenous women. ‘Bottom-up’ collaborative approaches are necessary to harness practice-based knowledge in the DFSV sector about what works to prevent VAW. Collaboration ensures stakeholder buy-in, and stakeholder participation helps to ensure government investment. The ‘Hopeful, Together, Strong’ framework presents ten key principles of good practice to prevent violence against women in the Northern Territory. Each principle calls for a shift from mainstream approaches to VAW to one that aims to prevent violence by focusing on risk factors. The framework prioritises the safety of women and children, while focusing on challenging and addressing men’s use of violence within holistic, community-driven responses. Only by redirecting efforts to focus on the use of violence – rather than placing responsibility on women to end the violence they experience – can VAW be prevented.

Find out more • CAEPR’s Chay Brown reports on the development of a Northern Territory-specific framework for programs to prevent violence against women | Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research • Hopeful Together Strong Principles of good practice to prevent violence against women in the Northern Territory • Chay BROWN | PhD Student | Masters of Applied Anthropology and Participatory Development | Australian National University, Canberra | ANU | Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research

References 1.

Anderson, K. L., & Umberson, D. 2001. Gendering Violence: Masculinity and Power in Men’s Accounts of Domestic Violence. Gender and Society, Vol. 15, No. 3, pp. 358-380.


Manjoo, R. 2012. Report of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences. United Nations General Assembly: Human Rights Council. Available here. [Accessed 13 March 2021].


Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety. 2019. Domestic and family violence lethality: The facts about intimate partner homicide. Sydney, NSW. ANROWS. Available here. [Accessed 13 March 2021].


Northern Territory Government of Australia. 2020. Where you can’t drink in the NT. Retrieved from NT.GOV.AU. Available here. [Accessed 13 March 2021].


Australian Government. 4 November 2019. BasicsCard. Australian Government. Services Australia. Available here. [Accessed 13 March 2021].


Olsen, A., & Lovett, R. 2016. Existing knowledge, practice and responses to violence against women in Australian Indigenous communities: State of knowledge paper. Canberra: Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies.


Baumann-May, I. 2014. Just ticking the box’ A qualitative exploration of remote health practitioners’ experiences with domestic and family violence mandatory reporting in Central Australia. Flinders University, Adelaide.


Our Watch. 2016. Facts and figures. Retrieved from Our Watch. Available here. [Accessed 13 March 2021].


Bott, S., Morrison, A., & Ellsberg, M. June 2005. Preventing and responding to gender-based violence in middle and low-income countries: a global review and analysis. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 3618. World Bank. Available here. [Accessed 13 March 2021].


Our Watch. 2018. Changing the picture: A national resource to support the prevention of violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their children. Melbourne: Our Watch. Available here. [Accessed 13 March 2021].



Bray, J. R., Gray, M., Hand, K., & Katz, I. 2014. Evaluating New Income Management in the Northern Territory: Summary Report (SPRC Report 25e/2014). Sydney: Social Policy Research Centre, UNSW Australia.

Skov, S. J., Chikritzhs, T. N., Li, S. Q., Pircher, S., & Whetton, S. 2010. How much is too much? Alcohol consumption and related harm in the Northern Territory. Med J Aust 2010; 193 (5), pp. 269272.


Brown, C. 2019. Hopeful, Together, Strong: Principles of good practice to prevent violence against women in the Northern Territory. Alice Springs: Report to Northern Territory DFSV sector.



Cuneen, C. 2002. Preventing violence against Indigenous women through programs which target men. UNSW Law Journal Vol. 25(1), pp. 242-250.

The Northern Territory Government. 2018. The Northern Territory’s Domestic, Family, and Sexual Violence Reducation Framework 2018-2028: Safe, respected and free from violence. Darwin: The Northern Territory Government.



Day, A., Jones, R., Nakata, M., & McDermott, D. 2012. Indigenous Family Violence: An Attempt to Understand the Problems and Inform Appropriate and Effective Responses to Criminal Justice System Intervention. Psychiatry, Psychology and Law, 19:1, pp. 104-117.

UNHCR. 2008, January. UNHCR Handbook for the Protection of Women and Girls. Geneva, Switzerland: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Available here. [Accessed 13 March 2021].


Wild, R., & Anderson, P. 2007. Report of the Ampe Akelyernemane Meke Mekarle “Little Children are Sacred”: Northern Territory Board of Inquiry into the Protection of Aboriginal Children from Sexual Abuse. Darwin: Northern Territory Government.


World Health Organisation. September 2016. World Health Organisation. Retrieved from Violence against women: Intimate partner and sexual violence against women: Factsheet. Available here. [Accessed 13 March 2021].


World Health Organization/London School of Hygiene and Tropical. 2010. Preventing intimate partner and sexual violence against women: taking action and generating evidence. Geneva: World Health Organisation.


Department of Attorney-General and Justice. 2018. Northern Territory Crime Statistics Data through June 2018. Darwin: Department of Attorney-General and Justice, Northern Territory Government.


Ellsberg, M., & Heise, L. 2005. Researching Violence Against Women: A Practical Guide for Researchers and Activists. Washington DC, United States: World Health Organisation, PATH.


Havnen, O. 2012. Office of the Northern Territory Coordinator- General for Remote Services Report June 2011 - August 2012. Darwin: Office of the Coordinator-General for Remote Services, Northern Territory Government.


artwork by Inês Pinto


Turning adversity to advantage? Everyday struggles of Zimbabwean commercial sex workers sex work, explicit language

Chipo Hungwe

illustrated by soft orb


Setting the scene sex work in Zimbabwe


n Zimbabwe, sex work is outlawed by the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act where soliciting for clients in the public attracts a fine and can also lead to a prison sentence of up to six months. However, sex workers gained a reprieve in May 2015 when the Constitutional Court made arresting women soliciting for sex illegal, if they were not accompanied by their male clients or if there were no males who could confirm having been approached by them. This judgement has been interpreted as good news in the absence of decriminalisation (Busza et al 2017). Sex workers in Zimbabwe are open about their trade. They use the term ’whore’ as a form of positive self-identification deployed to claim payment from troublesome clients, for example, by shouting statements such as ”give me my money, don’t you know that I am a whore” at the top of their voices . This article focuses on women and uses the term ‘sex worker’ to refer to women who have multiple sexual partners in exchange for money or its equivalent. The sexual partners are mostly men whom they may not have any prior contact with, although over time, some may become regular clients. We explore three examples of where commercial sex workers are depicted in local newspapers, showing what action they take in their struggle for survival and recognition in Zimbabwe. Sex work in Zimbabwe mainly involves poor women trying to survive.


MaNcube’s clash with the police (published by MyZimbabwe News on 23 October 2014) “Clad in white stilettos and a mini skirt, it didn’t take time for her to strip for all to see. “Bonanini zinja zabantu alizake libone umfazi omuhle enqunu,’munoda kuona mhata yangu here imi mapurisa imi’iyi iri pano iyi tarisai” (meaning come and see you dogs, have you never seen a nude woman before? You want to see my vagina? Here it is, come and see, you police officers).

Cas Onee

She was cheered on by her colleagues while officers were stunned. One of the cops warned that she would be taken in for indecent exposure. However, in response she told them they would get the shock of their lives when she got to the charge office claiming one of them had asked her to trade ‘sex for freedom’. ‘You are now used to free sex. Take me to Central (police station), I will tell your bosses that you wanted to have a ride on me before letting me go home,” she added.


“She can be gangster like that at times. Even her clients get a dose of what to expect before they take her home. It’s always money upfront, then drinks later. If [you’re] unlucky she won’t go The story shows a combination of insults with you even if you would have paid and nudity being used as a strategy to up. She stays in Pumula South, within deal with police officers. Using nudity is a a year she had built a house, said an way of turning an otherwise embarrassing eyewitness who seemed to situation to one’s advantage - instead have had countless sex sessions with of feeling humiliated for being arrested the commercial sex worker.” for soliciting for sex, the commercial sex worker turns the situation around and tries to embarrass the police using the very same thing she is supposed to be embarrassed by. Rather than trying to prove that she is a ’decent’ woman; she does exactly the opposite, using ‘indecent exposure’. In the process, the commercial sex worker gains the reputation of being ‘gangster’ and an eyewitness confirms that the woman had managed to build a house (an admirable thing) through sex work. The story also reveals that sex with policemen is a common strategy. Muzvidziwa (1997) explains how commercial sex workers use sex as a form of bribe, sleeping with the police in order to be allowed to continue their business. MaNcube’s agency is revealed when she publicises this supposedly secret transaction with the police, much to their shame. While it could be that the policemen involved in this particular incident have not actually asked for sex from MaNcube, they may have been aware of the secret transactions between sex workers and policemen popularly known as ’sex for freedom’ (Mushava 2013).

Case Two

In this case, the commercial sex worker uses the very thing that is respected (pregnancy) to ‘prey’ on men’s imaginations. She knows deep down some men have fantasies of having sex with a pregnant woman. She appeals to these fantasies and earns a reputation as an ‘energetic and flexible’ commercial sex worker. Again, rather than being ashamed of the pregnancy and retiring from her sex work until the baby is born, the commercial sex worker uses the baby bump to attract customers. The woman changes her image from that of an irresponsible impregnated ‘girl’ who is a subject of pity, to a sexy, daring, and open-minded pregnant woman.

The pregnant commercial sex worker of Dete (story in Bulawayo24News on 16 May 2013) A pregnant commercial sex worker has become a surprise hit (mostly with truck drivers) in the red-light district at Cross Dete business centre along the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls highway. The woman declined to give her name saying she was in a relationship with a Hwange-based boyfriend. “My boyfriend works in Hwange but these days we are not in good books because he was not sending me money for preparation for his baby. He says he does not earn much but I don’t believe he can’t afford to send me at least US$50 a month,” she said. “I am not proud of what I am doing because I am putting my baby’s health at risk but I have no choice. I thought I could stop when my pregnancy started showing because I feared that men would not want to hire me. But to my surprise men want me more than when I was not pregnant. I have always insisted on condoms and I always go for HIV tests so I know that I am negative. I am doing everything in my power to ensure that my baby is safe,” she said. In separate interviews, the men who were observed talking to the pregnant hooker admitted that they paid her for sex. A Zambian truck driver, who called himself Mr Phiri, said he found sex with the pregnant woman satisfying as she was surprisingly energetic and flexible too. “I was somehow afraid to sleep with her because she is pregnant but my curiosity got the better of me. I heard people saying sex with a pregnant woman is better but I had never experienced that because my wife had a low libido when she was pregnant. I am happy to say it is true that sex with a pregnant woman can be good, it was good.”


The visually impaired sex worker (story from MyZimbabwe 8 June 2014)

Cas Thr e ee

A blind commercial sex worker has become a hit with men who seek the services of ladies of the night in the red-light zone at Ngundu Business Centre in Masvingo Province along the Masvingo-Beitbridge highway. Some are even ‘queueing’ and waiting for their turns to come so they can also play the ‘pumping’ game with the ‘talented’ lady of the night. The commercial sex worker, who “works” with her sister and sometimes offers “threesomes” to clients, said she was born blind and decided to venture into the world’s oldest profession after her boyfriend impregnated her and left her to look after their now two-year-old baby alone. In an interview, the blind commercial sex worker, who was with her partner in crime (her sister), said blindness was a blessing in disguise as she did not see the men she slept with.


“We (commercial sex workers) don’t enjoy the sex, but we have no choice because we want to make money. This is the only way to survive. Some of the men we sleep with are undesirable, some unwashed and smelly but money is money. I am always joking with my sister that she is unlucky because she sees the men she The visually impaired sleeps with. Some of them are obviously ugly,” she commercial sex worker said. frames her reasons for “… I must admit that it’s a dangerous job and more engaging in prostitution dangerous for me because I am blind. But what else in the accepted discourse can I do to make money? Who will marry me? Who will of having no better give me a job? Who will take care of my child?” she alternative. She starts with asked rhetorically. a disclaimer arguing “we “I am HIV negative and I pray that I stay negative. don’t enjoy the sex, but I am against unprotected sex but sometimes it just we have no choice because happens. There are some regular customers and we want to make money”. sometimes I let down my guard when I am with them. She even asks rhetorical I know it’s risky but other girls and my sister tell me questions such as “What that it happens to all of us,” she said. else can I do to make money? Who will marry The sister said her blind sister was just trying to make me? Who will give me a a living like everyone else. “Life is hard and you have job? Who will take care of to make sacrifices to survive. I used to take care of my my child?”. sister and her own child but I was struggling because I have two children of my own. So, one day I had the However, the woman uses courage to tell her how I make money and she told visual impairment to her me that she always knew because at times I brought advantage. She knows that clients home. From there one thing led to another and most of her clients come now we are working together.Some men sleep with her to her because they want because they are curious, they want to know what it a different experience; she feels like to sleep with a blind commercial sex worker. offers that and even offers Some do it because she is beautiful and sexy despite more - a threesome with being blind. But most of the people who hire her do it her sister. The woman because they just want that experience that they once considers herself lucky slept with a blind commercial sex worker,” she said. in that she does not see her clients, reasoning A truck driver, who was trying his luck on the two that some of them ”are claimed he had been referred to the pair by fellow obviously ugly”. truck drivers, who said he would be assured of a nice time. “I was told that these two know their stuff”.

Find out more Commercial sex work is growing and includes male and child sex workers. The calls for the legalisation of commercial sex work in Zimbabwe are getting louder and louder, even attracting the attention of some parliamentarians.

Navigating dangers and turning adversity to advantage

More information can be found here.

These three newspaper depictions show how commercial sex workers use what is ordinarily a source of disadvantage and economic difficulty (being caught soliciting for clients, pregnancy without a partner, visual impairment), into an unusual economic advantage. Sex workers fascinate and satisfy the ‘wild’ imaginations of their clients and in the process are able to cash in on their supposed ‘shame’. However, the dangers faced by these women in Zimbabwe are still ever-present.

References 1.

Busza, Joanna et al 2017. Good news for sex workers in Zimbabwe: how a court order improved safety in the absence of decriminalisation. Journal of international AIDS society .20: 21860. Available here. [Accessed 13 March 2021].


Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23 of 2004 section 81 (subsections 1-2)


Muzvidziwa, Victor, N. 1997. Commercial sex workers: vendors of another type. Journal of Sustainable Development in Africa 12 (2): 75-89.


Mushava, Everson. 11 November 2013. Soldiers, Cops refuse to pay for sex. Newsday Zimbabwe.


Staff reporter. 16 May 2013. Pregnant hooker a surprise hit at business centre, Bulawayo24News.


Staff Reporter. 8 June 2014. Men queue to have sex with a talented blind commercial sex worker, MyZimbabweNews.


Staff Reporter. 23 October 2014. You love free sex: Bulawayo commercial sex worker scares off police officers with her womanhood, MyZimbabweNews.


TW rape, abuse

When a Rape Case Gets Derailed:

Depicting Flawed Investigation in Unbelievable Anxhela Filaj

G 36

eneral film theory argues that we do not need to know the director of a movie or series to understand its meaning. The authoritative vision apparent in Hitchcock’s, Allen’s, or Spielberg’s cinematic creations, however, is omitted in Susannah Grant’s series Unbelievable (2019), which suggests that the meaning is to be found within the show itself, by its viewers. Throughout the series, Grant employs alternative cinematic methods when depicting the trauma of sexual abuse victims in ways that do not frame them as the other, and foreshadow their underrepresentation as active story-tellers of their own experiences with rape and abuse. Unbelievable exposes the constraints of women’s unwilling involvement in the scepticism created about their rape stories. The debate over the series reveals a rape victim’s fear of their image and narratives being met with disbelief by the investigators. By thoroughly examining the compositional elements of the series, this article not only argues that the problem of perspectives related to rape investigations arises from the use of diverse investigative approaches by male and female detectives but also highlights how the distortion of a rape survivor’s testimony by (male) police investigators affects the overall interrogation techniques.

The Netflix series intentionally reinvestigates the rape victims’ consciousness by challenging cinematic constructs and utilising new forms and stories where, opposing rape myths, a woman does not necessarily need to be sexually appealing to the rapist and the rapist does not need sexual stimulation to rape. Unbelievable uncovers the rape story of Marie Adler, an eighteen-year-old victim of sexual abuse, whose story was doubted by (male) investigators who later on forced her to recant her statement. The series is based on the book A False Report: A True Story of Rape in America (2015), written by T. Christian Miller and Ken Armstrong, two Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists who describe the real rape story of a teenage girl named Marie. It is important to note that the story takes place in America, thus Grant’s cinematic lenses criticise the dysfunctional criminal justice system in the US and its law enforcement. Susannah Grant also challenges the traditional cinematic codes by breaking down the structures as a mainstream series and foregrounds some of the strategies characterising the power of women’s cinema in the process of imaging. Women are not regarded as femme fatale and men not as the evil incarnate.

Figure 1: Marie (Kaitlyn Dever) on her first appearance after the rape; Episode 1, Netflix 2019. Unbelievable is divided into eight agonising episodes and two different timelines depicting the life of the eighteen-year-old girl in Washington on the one hand and on the other stories of four women in Colorado raped by the same man. Years after Marie’s rape, her story coincides with those of two female detectives (Rasmussen and Duvall) from Colorado working on a separate investigation into a series of rapes. This intersection offers devastating insights into the social mechanisms of police procedures that too often, as visually represented, prevent rape victims from being believed. Although the presence of women is an indispensable element of spectacle in normal narrative film (Mulvey 6), the visual depiction of women in Unbelievable does not work against their storylines. The series focuses on three perspectives: Marie’s as the rape survivor, the male detectives representing the hermeneutics (methodology of interpretation)1 of suspicion (neglecting the crime), and the female detectives as the hermeneutics of empathy (the determined ones who would spend considerable screen time running down leads and connecting dots).

The conditions of screening a film/series are important because they give the audience the impression of looking into a private world. When Marie, portrayed by Kaitlyn Dever, first appears (see fig. 1), a subjective camera2 shot dominates and she is depicted as shocked, isolated, and scared through medium eye-level shots while she is covering her body with a blanket and staring at the floor. Although initially, she is the object of the audience’s and other characters’ combined gaze, she is not a victim of screen sexualisation, nor is she a passive image of visual perfection. Grant starts negotiating female spectatorship from the very beginning with scenes in which our first contact with Marie is filled with feelings of compassion and tenderness. Despite being ostensibly disempowered by the circumstances, Marie succeeds in pushing the spectators, male and female, to sympathise with her. Throughout her psychological journey, the spectators’ fascination, while watching her evolve from a marginalised to a liberated woman, never turns against Marie. Hence, Unbelievable is about women’s emancipation and openly denies their objectification.


hermeneutics (methodology of interpretation). Available here.


An objective/subjective camera shot usually involves the camera observing the action of a scene in a non-neutral way.


In their traditional exhibitionist role, women are objectified by the male gaze, as Laura Mulvey has pointed out in her essay Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema. They are simultaneously looked at and displayed with their appearance coded for strong visual and erotic impact so that they could connote to-be-lookedat-ness (7). Thus, pleasure in viewing is split into an active/male and a passive/ female perspective by routinely displaying women on screen as ‘either erotic objects for the characters within the screen story or as erotic objects for the spectator within the auditorium’ (Ibid). The feminist scholar Mary Ann Doane describes this dichotomy between the image of women and their cinematic

representation as an enigmatic chain where the two are interconnected, ‘a writing in images of the woman but not for her. For she is the problem’, as she specifies in the chapter “Film and the Masquerade” (75). Yet, Unbelievable confronts the classical film theories that represent women as erotic spectacles interrupting the narrative and mirrors them instead, shifting the focus away from the male gaze and sexual imbalance which rape brings to the screen. In spite of being a rape victim, under Grant’s supervision, Marie is treated as a rape survivor, which disrupts the surrounding gazes (of the characters, spectators, and cameras) by making us look at her as a non-fetishized human being.

Figure 2: Detectives Pruitt (Bill Fagerbakke) and Parker (Eric Lange) interrogating Marie; Episode 1, Netflix 2019.

The mise en scène (stage arrangement) of Marie’s interrogation by the male detectives Pruitt and Parker, (see fig. 2), ensures oppression of her position as a testifier. Marie is totally surrounded, not only by the detectives in front of her, but also by static frames of other compositional elements – the symmetrical wall behind her, the perfectly squared shape of the

ceiling with the high angle gridlike lines, and the window on her left side reinforce her entrapment. By confronting the camera, she implies a greater intimacy with the viewers than the detectives do. Her gaze, despite seemingly distant, is imbued with feelings of a desire to embrace the outer space begging the audience to believe and help her.

The close-up symmetrical shots of her figure, while being surrounded by the wide-shouldered detectives, are a conscious attempt of Grant to imply Marie’s vulnerability and powerlessness. As Louise Gianetti explains in Understanding Movies: Objects and figures placed in these positions seem to be in danger of slipping out of the frame entirely. For this reason, these areas are often exploited symbolically to suggest danger. When there are two or more figures in the frame and they are approximately the same size, the figure nearer the bottom of the screen tends to be dominated by those above (53). Consequently, the camera angle of the interrogative shot is used to straightforwardly inscribe the sexual differentiation and power imbalances between Marie and the male investigators. Grant’s intention when portraying the police procedures was to evict Marie from a discourse purportedly created for her and focus only on the problematic narrative the detectives design by screening them as emotionally detached from the victim in order to retain their traditional masculinity. As echoed by camera shots, Pruitt and Parker, through interrogating Marie repeatedly, using puzzling procedures, and

neglecting her traumatic experience, appear unfriendly, hesitant and suspicious toward her testimony. Their authoritative position suggests power and domination which makes them appear threatening. By questioning Marie’s reliability not only as a trustworthy protagonist of her story, but also as the active recipient of the gaze, detectives Pruitt and Parker read her testimony, manipulate her narrative, frame her gaze, and turn Marie into the antagonist of the community around her. Detective Pruitt is further vilified as a hideous character not only through the close-up shots which intentionally focus on his disfigured face full of scars (see fig. 3) but also for his manners of communication – using a high pitched voice toward Marie angrily claiming, ‘This is not a worthwhile use of our time. This is a waste of our time’ (Episode 1), after confronting her unreliable memories. However, in her article ‘Unbelievable Bosses on Adapting an Unreliable Witness’ Assault Story’, Turchiano confirms that ‘reactions to trauma are as varied as people who experience trauma’, thus it is normal for a trauma victim to have inconsistent memories.

Figure 3: Detective Pruitt intimidating/traumatizing Marie during the interrogation; Episode 1, Netflix 2019.


The representation of the detectives Rasmussen and Duvall (see fig. 4) is focused on their personal identification with the victims’ rape narratives as a ‘constant relation of the self to itself’ (Doane 78), avoiding complications and refusing to establish

outside narrative perspectives as the male detectives did. Grant exposes the power of femininity on screen through their depiction, as she attempts to go beyond the paradigmatic representation of women and sexuality in both culture and screen.

Fig. 4: The delicately calibrated relationship of the empathetic female detectives: Rasmussen (Toni Collette) and Duvall (Merritt Wever), Episode 2, Netflix 2019.

The dichotomy between male and female investigators is mirrored not only in the established relationship of Rasmussen and Duvall but also in the contrasting techniques utilised when dealing with traumatised victims in the camera’s perspective. In most of the scenes, Toni Collette and Merritt Wever, starring as the female detectives, appear at the centre of the shots with front lighting to soften their facial features, avoiding the dramatic backlighting, which creates shadows as in the case of the male detectives. Handheld cameras are used in screening them which suggest more natural, subjective viewpoints and make the viewers feel like they are in the middle of the action. Grant’s female

detectives are purposely portrayed as more empathetic than their male counterparts not only through comic relief to ease the tension in some scenes, but also through the highly symmetrical designs used when framing Rasmussen and Duvall approaching their rape survivors, since this kind of arrangement suggests stability and harmony as Gianetti identifies (54). Unbelievable is essential as a TV crime procedural because not only does it show through its diverse cast that no demographic is safe, but also that the people who are listening are as important as those telling the story, and that in the end there is no single right way of responding to trauma.

The show stresses the impact of the methods employed when investigating sexual assaults in the US because, as screened, the male detectives, who had previously worked in the narcotics department, were not sufficiently trained to investigate sexual assault cases. It documents the historical context we are all living in nowadays, like the aftermath of movements such as #MeToo and avoids the usual trap of adapting rape narratives as Hollywood blockbusters. It also suggests that a reconstruction of police procedures is needed, along with an expansion of the discourses around sexual assault, which is necessary for spotlighting how sexism within police departments works and can hinder rape investigations. To conclude, rape on-screen under Grant’s surveillance is far from its fixed cinematic representations as a commercial commodity or entertainment

business, therefore it is treated with complexity and sensitivity. Each episode explores the everyday reality of rape victims/survivors and its harrowing aftermath by neglecting specific details of the attack on screen to advance a character’s narrative. Unbelievable stands out in negating a certain predominant cultural rhetoric on women’s liberation and rape myths. Refraining from any process of eroticisation, women in Unbelievable are represented as characters with whom the spectators, both female and male, can identify. Instead of being a passive spectacle, Marie is dynamic, leads the narrative, controls the gaze and creates meaning. Through voicing Marie’s repeated “rape” by the system, the series supports those who have been sexually abused and whose rights in prosecuting the crime have been denied and tries to draw the public’s attention to the untold truths about sexual abuse investigations.


References 1.


Doane, Mary Ann. 1991. Film and the Masquerade: Theorizing the Female Spectator. Femmes Fatales: Feminism, Film Theory, and Psychoanalysis. Routledge. pp. 75- 81.


‘Unbelievable’ Is the Story of Good People Making Terrible Mistakes. Forbes. Available here. [Accessed 22 March 2021].

Giannetti, Louis D. 2002. Understanding Movies. 9th ed. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson/ Prentice Hall.



Mulvey, Laura. 1975. Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema. Screen, vol. 16, no. 3. pp. 6- 18. Crossref, doi:10.1093/screen/16.3.6.



Turchiano, Danielle. 2019. ‘Unbelievable’ Bosses on Adapting an Unreliable Witness’ Assault Story. Variety. Available here. [Accessed 22 March 2021].



Canfield, David. September 2019. Kaitlyn Dever on Unbelievable: ‘The hardest thing I’ve ever done in my career’. Yahoo!Finance. Available here. [Accessed 22 March 2021]. Dibdin, Emma. September 2019. Unbelievable Showrunner Susannah Grant Breaks Down the Choices That Made the Show So Powerful. Harper Bazaar. Available here. [Accessed 22 March 2021].

Feldman, Dana. October 2019. Netflix’s

Gay, Roxana. Not That Bad, Dispatches from Rape Culture. Harper Perennial, pp.350. Jones McDougll, Naomi. November 2016. What it is like to be a woman in Hollywood”. November 2016. Available here. [Accessed 22 March 2021].

10. National Intimate Partner and Sexual Survey, 20102012 State Report. Available here. [Accessed 22 March 2021]. 11.

Sohaila, Abdulali. What We Talk When We Talk About Rape. The New Press, New York, 2018.

12. Taylor, Diana. Sexual Violence and Humiliation, A Foucauldian-Feminist Perspective. Routledge, 2020.

photography by Marina Joncic



Access to Justice for Women and Girls:

violence, war crimes, rape

The Case of Victims of Sexual and Gender-Based Crimes in Southeast Asia Francesca Braga



photography by Ike louie Natividad @iamikeee

omen and girls often face multiple and intersecting forms of marginalisation and discrimination based on personal characteristics: sex, gender, ethnicity/race, religion or belief, indigenous or minority status, marital and/or maternal status, and many others.1 Moreover, situational circumstances such as armed conflict, political crisis or natural disasters often lead to increased violence against women. Discrimination and violence against women and girls persist, and are too often unchallenged or normalized2 because of the lack of both national and international law in addition to an efficient system of access to justice. In Southeast Asia, and across the globe, increasing attention has been given to the promotion of a comprehensive and multi-sectoral response to violence against women, including the need for a gendered criminal justice system.3

What is the most common violence perpetrated against women and girls? Violence against women and girls is systematic and widespread at every social level, in developed and developing countries. Global estimations published by the World Health Organization (WHO) indicate that nearly one in three women worldwide have experienced physical or sexual violence in their lifetime, whether from their partners or strangers.4 It is one of the most shameful human rights violations and the most pervasive worldwide.5

Case Study

Another type of offence is sexual and gender-based crimes. These are committed against people because of their sex and/or socially constructed gender roles. They may include sexual violence and non-sexual attacks on women and girls, men and boys, and LGBT+ people because of their gender, such as persecution on gender grounds.6 These types of crimes may be motivated by underlying inequalities, such as religious, political, ethnic, national, and economic reasons.7

In the last few decades, the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda have acknowledged gender-based crimes as war crimes, crimes against humanity (CAH), and genocide, depending on the context in which the crimes had been perpetrated.8 However, the Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is the first international instrument that includes several forms of sexual and gender-based crimes amongst the most serious ones concerning the international community.9 In July 2019, the ICC - Trial Chamber IV found Mr. Bosco Ntaganda guilty of 18 war crimes and CAH committed in Ituri, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, from 2002 to 2003. On 7 November 2019, Ntaganda was unanimously sentenced to a total of 30 years of imprisonment. This conviction is so important because it is the first one for gender-based violence in the ICC’s history.10

Since October 2016, in Myanmar (also called Burma), some acts of violence perpetrated against the Rohingya minority have been labelled as rape and other forms of sexual violence. These crimes could be included in the list of war crimes and may constitute CAH when committed as part of a systematic attack against any civilian population, or genocide when the intent is to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.11 The same action can also fall into multiple categories, depending on how the crimes are committed and in what context. Women and girls, but also men, boys and LGBT+ people are victims of gang-rape by multiple soldiers; forced nudity and humiliation; and sexual slavery, and other forms of sexual violence. These atrocities occur in Myanmar and in other parts of the world, such as the Cox’s Bazar Refugee Camp in Bangladesh. While Myanmar is not a State Party of the ICC, Bangladesh ratified the Rome Statute in 2010. For this reason, because the ICC has no jurisdiction in Myanmar, on 14 November 2019, the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber III authorized the Prosecutor to proceed with an investigation for the alleged crimes committed against the Rohingya. In particular, these acts could qualify as CAH, due to deportation across the Myanmar-Bangladesh border and persecution on the grounds of ethnicity and/or religion against the Rohingya population.12


How can we try to prevent sexual and gender-based crimes and violence against women and girls? Access to justice is a fundamental component of the rule of law and good governance.13 Women’s access to justice is not only a right per se, but it is essential to the realisation of all rights protected under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.14 To create a culture of justice, it may be essential to improve the access to and the quality of justice. The perception of sexual and gender-based crimes and the role of access to justice is different from one country to another, and it is continually changing. Specific challenges are rooted in social norms and gender stereotypes,15 often justified by culture, religion, and tradition. Those three components tend to have a deterring influence on crime-related attitudes and behaviours.16 46

In Southeast Asia, legal systems vary and include civil law, common law, religious law, customary law, or combinations of these.17 Societies are predominantly patriarchal, where strict norms are related to women’s and men’s roles. The United Nations defines ‘patriarchy’ as the shaping of society around men’s control over women and children within the family and the replication of this unequal relationship in other spheres of life.18 So, most of the time women and girls belong to society’s ‘low status’, which increases their vulnerability to violence and abuse. Discriminatory laws and gaps in legal frameworks also contribute to this vulnerability and continue to be serious challenges.19 Despite normative progress which tends towards incorporating a gender sensitive perspective in the criminal investigation of sexual and gender-based violence, discriminatory patterns and gender stereotyping persist among access to the judicial system. There are several challenges which must be tackled in order for women’s access to justice to improve: 1) gender inequality in society; 2) gender bias in legal systems (absence of legislation on domestic and sexual violence); 3) social and economic hurdles (limited awareness of existing laws, court procedures, and support services; inaccessibility of legal aid language barriers; culture of fear, stigma, and silence); and 4) institutional barriers (women’s lack of confidence in judicial processes; the law’s language; corruption and culture of impunity; lack of victim and witness protection).20

trained to assist women during the criminal justice process; 5) creating victim and witness support services; 6) creating victim-centred investigations, prosecutions and trials, to emphasise the unique needs of victims of genderbased violence and promote confidential and gender-sensitive approaches.22

To enhance access to justice for women and girls, it is necessary to create a supportive and comprehensive legal and policy framework.21 Moreover, there are other needs, such as: 1) encouraging women to report sexual and gender-based crimes to the justice system; 2) ensuring that criminal justice providers can identify and deal with victims of violence against women; 3) developing effective strategies to support women and girls who were victims of sexual and gender crimes; 4) implementing legal aid programmes, lawyer pro bono programmes, paralegals or non-lawyer advocates who are

International justice has an influential role in fighting violence against women and sexual and gender-based crimes. Improving access to justice is not an easy task, but it is fundamental and essential, and it must be done.

References 1.

WHO. 2019. RESPECT Women. Preventing violence against women. Available here. [Accessed 6 February 2021].


United Nations Human Rights Council. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. 2017 (26 July). General Recommendation No. 35 on gender-based violence against women, updating general recommendation No. 19. CEDAW/C/GC/35.


Thailand Institute of Justice. 2017 (January). Towards Gender-Responsive Criminal Justice for Good practices Southeast Asia in responding to violence against women. pp.13.


WHO. 2019. Violence Against Women. Intimate partner and sexual violence against women - Evidence brief. Available here. [Accessed 6 February 2021].


UN Women. 2019. The Big Conversation. Handbook to Address Violence against Women in and through the Media. Available here. [Accessed 6 February 2021].


Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, 2187 U.N.T.S. 38544, 17 July 1998. Article 6, 7(1)(h) and 7(3).


International Criminal Court. 2014 (June). The Office of the Prosecutor, Policy Paper on Sexual and GenderBased Crimes. pp.13. Available here. [Accessed 6 February 2021].


American Society of International Law. The Prosecution of Gender-based Crimes by International Criminal Courts: An Assessment of Successes. Available here. [Accessed 1 February 2021].


International Criminal Court. 2014 (June). The Office of the Prosecutor, Policy Paper on Sexual and GenderBased Crimes. pp.13. Available here. [Accessed 6 February 2021].

10. International Criminal Court. 2019. Bosco Ntaganda sentenced to 30 years’ imprisonment. Press release 7 November 2019. Available here. [Accessed 1 February 2021].


Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, 2187 U.N.T.S. 38544, 17 July 1998. Articles. 7-8.

12. The International Criminal Court, 2019. ICC judges authorise opening of an investigation into the situation in Bangladesh/Myanmar. Press release 14 November 2019. Available here. [Accessed 1 February 2021]. 13. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. 2015 (23 July). General recommendation on women’s access to justice. CEDAW/C/GC/33, para. 1. Available here. [Accessed 6 February 2021]. 14. Id. 15. Judith A. Howard. 1984 (Sept). The “Normal” Victim: The Effects of Gender Stereotypes on Reactions to Victims, Social Psychology Quarterly, American Sociological Association, Vol. 47, No. 3. pp. 270281. 16. Amy Adamczyk, Joshua D. Freilich, Chunrye Kim. 2017. Religion and Crime: A Systematic Review and Assessment of Next Steps. Sociology of Religion. March 2017. 17. Thailand Institute of Justice. 2015 (January). Women’s Access to Justice: Perspectives from the ASEAN region. pp. 21. 18. Id, 22. 19. European Commission. 2017 (November). A comparative analysis of non-discrimination law in Europe. pp.9. 20. See supra Note 17, pp.14-15 21. See supra Note 3, pp.27. 22. Id., pp.14-26



artwork by Inês Pinto

TW violence, domestic abuse

Police intervention in domestic violence:

A cure or a curse for abused women in Nigeria Ifafoye Olajumoke

photography by Lucxama Sylvain @mr.authenticc


aving lives is perhaps the most important duty of the police but protecting the lives of abused women in Nigeria does not seem to be a priority for the Nigeria Police Force. Domestic abuse is a major health concern in Africa, and especially in Nigeria, yet police efforts to help women facing domestic abuse are often lacklustre. Over the course of this article, I will discuss the experiences of domestic abuse victims with the Nigeria Police Force, and the factors which have led to their ineffective response to partner violence.

Domestic violence can be described as a pattern of abusive behaviour in any relationship, used by one partner to harm or control the other. This can include physical, sexual, emotional, economic and psychological abuse, threats and more. Domestic violence occurs globally, and families from all social, racial, economic, educational, and religious backgrounds experience domestic violence in different ways. Around 30% of women globally who have been in a relationship report experiencing some form of violence from partners. Up to 38% of murders of women worldwide are perpetrated by a male partner (WHO, 2017). In West Africa, domestic violence is prevalent, and reportedly justified and condoned in some cultures. In Nigeria, reports reveal ‘shockingly high’ levels of violence against women (Aihie, 2009). A UNICEF study, asserted that the beating of wives and children is traditionally an accepted disciplinary tactic in Nigeria and many other African countries (UNICEF, 2001). Wives are often regarded as having the same status as children, and as being prone to indiscipline which must be curbed. Cases of domestic violence against women have been on the rise in Nigeria, with the media increasingly reporting husbands killing and maiming their wives (Pulitzer Center, 2020). Many women tolerate

violence, believing they have nowhere to go and assuming that the law will not protect them. As will be demonstrated, this assumption is often well-founded. Domestic violence against women in Nigeria can be tied to the patriarchal system of unequal power dynamics between men and women in marriage. The culture of wife-beating transcends region, religion and ethnicity, with women unable to seek redress due to traditional beliefs which reinforce it as a social norm. Generally, no culture in Africa favors the female gender when it comes to cultural and legal responses to domestic violence (Oluwole, 1997). Sources indicate that women experiencing domestic violence do not turn to the police as their primary option for assistance due to a lack of trust. The Nigerian police handle matters such as security and keeping peace fairly well, they operate with a patriarchal mindset that allows abuse to be justified (FFP, 2018). This issue is compounded by the fact that the police do not receive training in gender issues (This is Africa, 2020). When partner abuse is reported, police will often question what the woman reporting did to warrant a beating. This is the prevalent mindset of the police, shifting focus from the abuser by trying to blame the abused.


A woman on my street came to me some time ago and asked me to come to the police station and help her report her husband for assaulting her. The female police officer she spoke to, who was married to a fellow officer, argued that the assault may have been the woman’s fault, for being a bad wife. She said this while also showing us a scar on her arm, stating that her husband had given it to her. In her words, ‘all men are the same, na so we go dey manage them.’ Although this is anecdotal evidence, it is indicative of two wider problems firstly, that victims are often blamed for their abuse by police officers, as outlined above, and that some police officers are also domestic abusers themselves. This creates a vicious cycle - people who abuse cannot fight abuse.


This level of nonchalance is a driving force behind the desire for change. I have reported domestic violence cases at the police station, and they took it with levity - I felt like I had to force them to do their job. The criminal justice system is discouraging and demotivating. There is a culture within Nigeria that trivialises gender-based violence and it has crept into the attitudes of the Nigerian police. The Nigerian National Human Rights Commission Chairman highlighted that domestic violence is ‘poorly documented’ and ‘hardly investigated’ (Premium Times, 2013). Speaking to Vanguard (a Nigerian newspaper) a human rights activist involved with the Women’s Human Rights Clinic in Lagos, who aim to provide alternative dispute resolution to victims of domestic violence, reported that ‘Nigerian police do not respond adequately to complaints from women on domestic violence’ (Vanguard, 2013). Eight years later, this remains the case. This is corroborated by a BBC article which interviewed survivors of domestic violence and their experience with the Nigeria Police (BBC, 2020). Sources also report that police are reluctant to intervene in domestic violence. According to Country Reports in 2013, police do not involve themselves in domestic disputes even when asked to do so , and in rural areas, ‘police remained reluctant to intervene to protect women who formally accused their husbands of abuse if the level of abuse did not exceed customary norms in

the area’ (IRBC, 2014). According to the 2018 Nigerian Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS), only 1% of victims of physical or sexual violence turned to the police for assistance. The responses highlight that victims are often turned away by police officers, who perceive domestic violence as a private concern. The Women’s Rights and Health project (WRAHP) Executive Director has noted that many cases do not progress past the stage of reporting to the police. Further, the consideration given to a case is often dependent on the victim’s family support, education and the individual police officer (IRBC, 2014). Moreover, some sources report that police officers have been known to further abuse victims (FFP, 2018). This often discourages women from reporting incidents to the police. The WRAHP Executive Director has stated that not only do the police often retraumatise victims, in 90% of cases, they will side with the male perpetrator over the female victim, if both parties are present. The WRAHP Executive Director has also indicated that the government has tried to reform the police but due to corruption within the force, these efforts have failed (IRBC, 2014). When cases do make it to court, they usually make little progress. In 2010, the traditional King of Akure violently assaulted one of his wives, resulting in her death. Due to public pressure, the police announced that they would press charges. However, the case was dismissed in 2012 with no charges (Premium Times, 2012). Corruption amongst the police often prevents women from seeking justice. According to the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, the Nigeria Police are considered to be the most corrupt institution in Nigeria. Bribery is particularly common; according to the report, bribes are involved in 54% of interactions with police (Guardian, 2019). I handled a case in which a man who was popular within his community battered his wife ruthlessly. Because he was a public figure, the police refused to take the matter seriously. This kind of corruption, whereby the police only protect those who can benefit them, prevents the criminal justice system from responding effectively to domestic abuse.

This study has highlighted several factors which have contributed to the failure of the police to tackle domestic abuse in Nigeria. These factors include cultural beliefs, the patriarchal system, religion, corruption, and lack of training for the police in gender issues. However, there is some cause to hope that this may improve - for example, the Nigerian Government has prosecuted male perpetrators of abuse in several states. There is also currently a push in Nigeria for more legal aid for domestic violence victims. This is demonstrated by the establishment of organisations such as the Lagos State Domestic Sexual and Violence Response Team (DSVRT Lagos), an initiative set up to provide advocacy, legal representation, training and empowerment for victims, and the Women at Risk International Foundation (WARIF). While much progress is still needed, these organisations demonstrate that attitudes towards domestic violence in Nigeria may be starting to shift.

References 1.

Aihie Ose N. 2009. Prevalence of Domestic Violence in Nigeria: Implications for Counselling, Edo Journal of Counselling. 2(1).


Ayobami, A. 2 December 2012. Court dismisses suit filed by fighting, dethroned monarch, Deji of Akure. Premium Times. 2 December. Available here. [Accessed 6 March 2021].


Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada. 14 November 2019. Nigeria: Domestic violence, including legislation; protection and support services offered to victims (2016-November 2019). Available here. [Accessed 6 March 2021].

10. Sessou, E. 15 June 2013. Women are forced to respect tradition at their detriment - Odumakin. Vanguard. Available here. [Accessed 6 March 2021].


Editor. 27 March 2019. Police most corrupt institution in Nigeria, survey reveals. Guardian. Available here. [Accessed 6 March 2021].


Fund for Peace (FFP). 2018. Domestic Violence in Rivers State: A Threat to Social and Family Stability. Quarterly Update - May. Available here. [Accessed 6 March 2021].


Nduka, O. 5 June 2020. #WeAreTired: Nigerian women speak out over wave of violence. BBC News. Available here. [Accessed 6 March 2021].


Nwogugu, E.I. 2014. Family Law in Nigeria. Ibadan: HEBN Publishers.


Odinkalu, C. 25 November 2013. How to end violence against our women [opinion]. Premium Times.

13. World Health Organisation. 29 November 2017. Violence against women - fact sheet. Available here. [Accessed 6 March 2021].


Oluwole, S. 1997. Culture, Gender, and Development Theories in Africa. Africa Development / Afrique Et Développement, 22(1), 95-121. Available here. [Accessed 6 March 2021].

14. Yalley, A. 8 December 2020. How Ghana and Nigeria police handle domestic violence cases. This is Africa. Available here. [Accessed 6 March 2021].


Umukoro, E. 5 June 2020. Amidst COVID-19 Lockdown, Nigeria Sees Increased Sexual and Gender Violence. Pulitzer Center. Available here. [Accessed 6 March 2021].

12. UNICEF (2001) Children and Women’s rights in Nigeria: A wake up call situation assessment and analysis. Edited by Hodge. Abuja: National Population Commission and UNICEF.


photography by Narcisa Gambier 55

TW violence, domestic abuse

Approaches to tackling gender-based violence in Nigeria Ifafoye Olajumoke

C 56

onsidering the prevalence of gender-based violence in my home country, Nigeria, there is an exigent need to provide strategic approaches to tackle this problem. Gender-based violence has a significant detrimental impact on the mental and physical health and general well-being of many women, preventing them from effectively contributing to national development. According to a study by the Nigerian Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development and the United Nations Population Fund (UNPFA), with support from the Norwegian government, 28% of Nigerian women between the ages of 25 and 29 have been subject to some form of physical violence since the age of 15. It also states that 15% of women have experienced physical violence within the last 12 months (Pulitzer Center, 2020). These figures are concerningly high and clearly highlight that this is a severely underreported crime. The first step to tackle genderbased violence in Nigeria is breaking cultural practices that foster male dominance. There are several ways in which this can be achieved.



Children should be raised to understand that males have no inherent supremacy - instead, male and female children are equals. Despite the only difference being reproductive organs, many homes in Nigeria never encourage male children to take on household chores or teach them to show love and empathy to people around them. Superiority is taught to boys from the moment they are born. As for female children, many parents do not teach their girls how to nurture their self-worth, and as a result, many girls lack vision. Instead, parents often teach their daughters that marriage is their only form of success. At times, parents can allow a male child to become emotionally abusive to his siblings - ignoring problematic behaviour on the basis that as a boy, he has a right to treat others poorly. This style of parenting fosters male children who may grow to be domestic abusers or disrespectful of women.

The bride price system


illustrated by Merve Arslan

A cultural practice where a monetary figure, and a sometimes-ridiculous list of items, are demanded by the bride’s family from the groom to become her husband rightfully. This practice facilitates the thinking that women become men’s property in marriage. Abolishing bride prices will help reframe many Nigerian men’s perception that they ‘own’ their wives and can treat them as they wish, even violently. If the bride price is abolished, it can help set both partners on an equal footing in the marriage, without an autocratic feeling of ownership.

Encouraging and supporting women to be financially independent


Many women who are trapped in abusive marriages are economically reliant on their perpetrators, which can leave them feeling helpless and without options. Many women in this position may worry about how to take care of their children and themselves if they leave the marriage, and so do not feel able to leave an abusive relationship. Organising personal empowerment campaigns and seminars for women, teaching them why financial stability is important and how it can be achieved would be very helpful.


Debunk religious sentiments


Divorce is commonly frowned upon by religion, and this fact has been used to persuade some religious women that leaving a marriage, however abusive, is a sin. Some are indoctrinated to accommodate serial abuse in the name of religion. There is a need to help those tied into a dysfunctional or abusive marriage due to religious beliefs understand that it is okay to leave a relationship if they are being mistreated or if their safety is at risk. They say God hates divorce, but does God love an abusive marriage?

Providing free counselling/ therapy for victims Setting up free and accessible counselling programs for victims of genderbased violence could be very helpful. Many have lost their self-esteem due to abuse, while others suffer from difficulties such as Stockholm syndrome. These sessions could help them to take control of their own lives, to value and prioritise their own emotions and needs, and to be able to say ‘enough is enough’ with confidence. Having worked in many different roles related to gender-based violence, I can categorically say that many women need counselling as a result of the abuse they have suffered. Counselling will help restore their sanity and give clarity on how to lead a better life.


Cultural sentiments


In Nigeria, where women are considered to be unimportant, they are often used mainly for pleasure. Women are told that their place is in the market and in the kitchen. Is it not an irony that women are the very foundation of local commerce but, can’t they be trusted to help create national economic development plans?

References 1.

Umukoro, E. 2020. Amidst COVID-19 Lockdown, Nigeria Sees Increased Sexual and Gender Violence, Pulitzer Center. Available here. [Accessed 13 March 2021].


I was born in a society where the moment a woman is known to be pregnant; the next prayer that comes through her mind is “God; I want a boy.” The moment a woman gives birth, the first question is, what did she bear? If the answer is a boy, the response is always one of genuine joy and celebration. If the child is a girl, mothers are offered congratulations ‘anyway’. How did we get here? As we continue to unravel the mystery behind how womanhood became subjected to all manner of sufferings by culture, tradition, and religion, we must remember that we were all created by One God in His Own Image, and that is a sacred fact that cannot be pushed aside. It is essential to break these discriminatory cultural practices and acknowledge that men and women are equals.



misfits Analogue mixed-media collages photographed on 35mm colour negative. 6.4 x 8 inches (image size) with 1” border, Digital Pigment Print (2020)

artwork by Sejin Moon



“Open your ears! I’ve got something to say!” white words pinken passing kind womens’ red lips, lay cards on the table and someone will play. rolled trousers and floppy-hand smokers stay mulish, squinting for some solar eclipse, “Open your ears! I’ve got something to say!” Ah! she must force out her hips a sashay and these men’s ears will then fall to her grip, still: lay cards on the table and someone’ll play. at last she speaks, but did she anticipate that her speech now becomes her listener’s script? “Open your ears! This is what She once did say!” Jean Baptiste Pierre Antoine de Monet: her words are not her’s now and are spun and flipped-lay cards on the table and anyone can play. Is it worth it--an ear if she disarrays? no weakness like exposing when already stripped “Open your eyes! Is it to them you must say? Lay cards on the table and they will surely play.”

Isabel Bouwman

artwork by Monika Alff

TW rape, trauma

WomenBeing spoke to Bee and Lea, about their project ‘Spit It Out’, a Scottish collective ready to break taboos and open up difficult conversations around consent and mental health.

THE SPIT IT OUT PROJECT Breaking taboos and healing through creativity photography by Winnie Brook Young


Introduction (background, studies, current activity)


Bee: I am a 27 year old MixedRace spoken word artist from Edinburgh. I grew up between homes in the city and the countryside of Scotland, and am currently working for a youth led charity supporting young people of colour in the arts and with race activism. I am also a member of the female Scottish hip hop trio The Honey Farm. I have reached where I am today due to my tumultuous

For Lea: do you remember when you first discovered your passion for film? What inspired you?

Yes I do. In 2012 I discovered a film called “Women are Heroes” by the French photographer JR. I was just amazed at the way he was using art to denounce injustices in the world and basically I decided to do the same.

life experience and a great sense of empathy, care for the community and a desire for change in society, rather than as a result of my formal education. Lea: I am French Brazilian filmmaker, born in Paris. I studied literature and history at La Sorbonne, before coming to Edinburgh to study documentary filmmaking at the Edinburgh College of Art. At the moment, I direct creative documentaries specialising in gender violence issues and social change.

For Bee: How did art and your creativity help you to deal with trauma? As a Mixed-Race female in a patriarchal white world, I have faced my fair share of trauma. The traumas that we face are inherently ingrained into our society and have such negative effects on us in ways we can’t even see. It wasn’t until after I was raped that I truly started to understand and began to research how these negative structures are causing global traumas. I have always found creative ways to express myself, whether that be through art or music, but once I found my passion for spoken word it truly clicked. Putting all those emotions and uncertainties down onto a piece of paper, and being given the space to say them aloud and be heard, is incredibly healing. It can change the most dreadful and immobilising feelings not only into something freeing and beautiful, but into something that can help others to connect and feel freed themselves.



How did you two meet, and how did you start working together? Lea: I went to interview Bee for a Scottish Identity project and we ended up talking about rape for three hours. I was in a really bad place back then and meeting Bee showed me I could get better. She had such a big impact on me and my perception of trauma. We decided to stay in touch and I came up with the idea to create a film focused on how it is possible to heal from trauma and about the importance of breaking the taboo on the subject. Bee: Yeah, we met through mutual friends and when I first went to speak to Lea about the Scottish

64 Lea: We were both frustrated after finishing the documentary because we felt like we wanted to continue discussion and do more. We realised that we were surrounded by other artists who shared the same passion and urgency to discuss these issues. We took this as a good opportunity to bring people together to raise awareness. The group has a wide range of collective knowledge and skills to create incredible events and content. A few months beforehand, we discovered the Rape Crisis Helpline crowdfunder and we wanted help as much as we could. We decided our networking and creativity skills would be the best way to do so and began working on



Identity project she was doing I was really amazed by her. We often strayed from the conversation on the project and I was in awe of her motivation and drive for positive social change. She exudes that ‘give-a-fuck’ mentality that I just love, but she was also going through her own journey with a trauma that had lain dormant for some time, so you could see she was aching to break free of it. When she came to me with the idea for the documentary, I was so up for it because I knew together we could make something that was not only beautiful but accessible to those who do not connect easily with these subjects.

What is the ‘Spit It Out Project’? How did you get started and what inspired you to do this? our first event, which was held at Paradise Palms. Bee: It was a really incredible event. The vibe in the room was just so full and loving and fun. I think that first event really gave us the drive to go full steam ahead with the project. Unfortunately things were slowed right back down by Covid-19 as we aren’t able to put on the intimate events we were hoping to, but we are still creating content with the Zine, the Podcasts, online events and there are some other exciting things in the pipeline you should keep and eye out for - it’s all on our website!

How do trauma, mental health, sex positivity, and healing though creativity interconnect? Lea: Breaking taboos around mental health and trauma and fighting for a better representation of sex is one of the solutions to prevent the extreme consequences of the lack of sex education in our society. People are left alone to learn about sex and consent through medias, porn and personal experiences. Sometimes it can be risky. We believe it’s important to start a discussion on this subject so it becomes easier for people to open up about their doubts and their negative experiences. Only then we can heal. Creativity is what brings us together as a collective, we use what we know best to share about our own experiences and hopefully inspire others to find what helps them.

Lea: We believe that approaching any sexual orientation or practice without prejudice or judgement and opening up safe conversations about things society typically disapproves of is already a step in the right direction. We love sex and we want to spread the message that there is nothing to be ashamed of, no matter what you want and need in bed. We are currently developping a sex ed series with Ruth Eliot, the incredible sex educator behind the Better Sex Workshops. Each episode will deconstruct misconceptions and dangerous prejudices that are still prominent in society. We are hoping that if people can free themselves from an outdated perspective on sex, they will develop a better relationship with themselves and their partners. For us, sex positivity and sex education are very important in the fight against sexual violence. For example, our podcast, by Seina Baalouche, explores the notion of consent through honest anonymous testimonies. When we started it,


Bee: This links back to what I was saying before about globally ingrained traumas and the methods we can use to discuss them and spread awareness. Sex postitivity is incredibly important. Sex is a natural part of the human experience that we are pushed to suppress from a young age, as if it is dirty or wrong to enjoy, think or talk about. I think this comes from people viewing sex as just a function and not an emotional experience. The same goes for talking about our mental health and being able to talk about traumatic shit openly. All of these subjects link together in a multitude of ways, but the main one being that they are all things that humans experience, so why are we unable to talk about the experiences we collectively share in different ways without judgment? Expressing them through art is powerful and can be both comfortable and uncomfortable, this juxtaposition is exciting I think.

How do you approach sex positivity in the work you do?


we wanted people to feel like they could open up about very personal sexual experiences, good or bad, and reflect on how they learned about consent and sex. It was not about saying “rape is bad” but “sex is amazing, as long as it’s safe and consensual” So yeah, we do what we can with the tools we have! Bee: Personally within my writing, especially my work in conjuction with The Honey Farm, I talk very openly about sex. I discuss the things I like and don’t like, sometimes in a funny manner, sometimes very seriously, but overall just saying it all. I’m putting it all out there to promote that sex is not just a physical function but something we should explore to discover all the incredible things it has to offer. Sex can be incredible for our mental health and bring us so much joy, we should be allowed to know and experience these benefits. I think sex positivity comes naturally within my writing.


The power of healing through creativity: can you speak a bit about this? Bee: After I was raped in Thailand I began to draw. The first thing I drew - 1 week later on the plane home - was the image of a topless girl with her hands tied behind her back and her mouth zipped closed. Sobbing uncontrollably next to a stranger, I wrote ‘I’m fixing to forget feeling fragile, feart and fucked’. After that, on the same journey, I drew the image of a girl (myself) sitting inside an eye with her hand hanging down in the ‘O.K’ symbol. ‘Eye’ll Bee ok’. Both of these images started me on my journey to recovery from the trauma, as they put the feeling and fears I was experiencing somewhere outside of my own mind and body.


Months later, when I was able to find the words to explain what had happened to me, I scribbled them out onto paper and read them back to myself. Writing about all of my anxieties, fears and desire to curl up and just disappear did not stop me from feeling these things but just made them clearer, easier to see. Day by day, piece by piece, the heavy that was sitting on my chest started to lift.

Lea: We use live events in order to bring people together.


I have talked to many other people who have experienced a wide range of traumas and found ways to express them. Whether that be through dance, music, art, cooking or many other forms of creativity, they have all said the same thing; as time goes on, you find other creative outlets to explore and pick apart the horrible traumas you have suffered. You begin to stop holding them so much. You begin to heal. Lea: I always had problems talking about my own experiences so my films usually tell someone else’s story but allow me to come to term with my own. I feel like creativity helps translating feelings into something tangible, even when these feelings are not your own directly. Collaborating with Bee and Nisan was my opportunity to feel understood and put all my pain and anger into a project. I started to think that If the film was able to help someone to feel less alone, then what happened to us was not for “nothing” Today, I am trying to find the strength to tell my own story because I want to be able to give as much as I have received from the people who agreed to be in front of my camera in the last few years.

How does the ‘Spit It Out Project’ reach out to people?

For the ‘Spit It Out’ documentary we decided to air it on BBC Scotland. We were unsure whether we really wanted it to go on national TV as we knew it would mean a lot of creative compromises, but we knew we would be able to reach a much wider community of people who we wouldn’t normally be able to connect with. The people who run in our circle, follow our social media and visit our website are already part of the discussion. The people we were able to reach on the BBC were everyday people, who may be privileged enough not to have to worry about these taboo subjects, or who have been confronted with similar trauma but not had the access or awareness to discuss it openly. Right now on Instagram, we try to engage with people daily.


8 10

Do you have any advice, especially for teenagers and young women?

Bee: Talk about your shit. Do not be ashamed of the trauma that inevitably comes with life. It is important to find a way to express these things whether through art and creativity, exercise or just to your pals. We have to talk about anything and everything in order to normalise the conversations. Talk about your periods. Talk about your balls dropping. Talk about your best orgasm. Talk about the sensation. Talk about the guy who touched you when you didn’t want him to. Talk about rape. Talk about abortion. Talk about your mental and physical health. Talk about how you like to have sex. Talk about your unlawful thoughts. Talk, talk, talk. And listen. Provide space for others to talk. Without judgement. Listen.

How can people find you online? spititout_project thespititoutproject spititoutproject.com


illustrated by Ramona Ilmer



abuse, rape

Lisa Settari

‘Those who face abuse are often silent for various reasons, or silenced in a number of ways, and for a long time. For me too, this was no different. I am one of billions of abused and unheard women who have walked the earth since the dawn of time. Ironically, I was watched, talked about and eventually painted on canvas and carved into stone by strangers for about two thousand years. To them, I was a beautiful virgin with waving locks, ivory skin, piercing eyes and soft curves, and someone’s daughter, sister, lover, wife and mother. Poets and writers told the tale of a mighty male, where a princess Europe featured as a decorative detail. At last, I tell my own tale with myself as the protagonist. My name is Europe, and I was abused.’


n the days leading up to Europe Day on 9th May, I began to realise that, even though everyone knows what Europe is and where it is, hardly anyone seemed to know or care about where the name comes from. I remember the first time I heard about the myth of Europe. During a geography lesson in secondary school, our teacher shared the story of our continent’s name-giver by means of an old-school dictate; he read out the story, and we copied down his words. Zeus, King of the Gods, had fallen in love with the beautiful Princess Europa, who lived in West Asia. To win her over, and to trick his jealous wife Hera, Zeus, disguised as a gorgeous white bull, approached Europa as she was playing on the shores of the Mediterranean. Enchanted by the handsome animal, Europa began to stroke it, then decorated his horns with flowers and eventually sat on his back. Zeus took his chance, jumped up and rushed off into the waves of the sea with the Princess on his back. He took her to the Greek island of Crete, where she bore him three sons: Minos, Sarpedon and Rhadamanthys. As I look at this version of the story years later, as a feminist in the midst of a long overdue public debate on sexualabuse, it sounds like yet another story of male privilege, fraud, kidnapping, exploitation and objectification. It also forces me to realise how deep the sexist and patriarchal roots of our culture run. Of course, one could ask what the point is in a debate over ancient fiction like the myth of Europe? Surely it is far more important and worthwhile to focus on real women who faced real abuse, who are still alive to testify and seek justice, and on real abusers who can be held accountable today? All these things are undeniably crucial. However, we need to be much more ambitious and demanding, not only with regards to what we witness today, but to what we have seen and been told yesterday, the day before, and literally for millennia. If we want to build a society with less (and ideally

no) patriarchal oppression,or silencing and blaming of victims, we need to be radical. In other words, we must address our sexist and patriarchal roots. Whilst making every possible effort to provide practical support and seek justice for real victims of abuse, we also must oppose traditional narratives that are rife with oppressive structures. Feminist readings of our collective cultural memory can encourage and create an epistemology of our past, one that centres silenced and disregarded experiences. We cannot just listen to the canonical version and copy it word for word as I did when I heard Europe’s story for the first time. Many feminists have already been carrying out this work for centuries, and their cultural contributions and acts of resistance deserve to be named and celebrated. One example is the Italian writer Selma Mahlknecht, who offers a new reading of the myth of another woman who was revered for her beauty, and nevertheless kidnapped, raped and sold as a slave (Mahlknecht, 2010). This practise of reclamation has to begin with a closer look at the traditional, patriarchal narrative. In the age of the Internet, that often begins with a quick Google search. The search term “Princess Europe” brings up millions of results in seconds; however, most concern a cruise line with the same name, or articles about female members of European royal families. If you keep digging, you will find Wikipedia pages on “Europe (consort of Zeus)”, or “Europe (daughter of Agenor)” in different languages. The authors of these pages draw attention to Europe’s brothers Cadmus, who brought the alphabet to mainland Greece, and Cilix, who had a landmass in Turkey named after him. They also discuss Europe’s sons, who became kings and judges of the underworld, as well as Zeus and her husband Asterion, King of Crete. Clearly, Europe’s identity is defined by the men who surround her.



At this point, it should not surprising that the vast majority of references to Europe, including the textual and visual testimonies of the myth which have been produced since the 7th century BCE, either completely deny Europe a viewpoint or portray her as consenting, in love with Zeus, and then as a queen living happily ever after on a beautiful island. Ancient literary texts, respectable sources like the Encyclopædia Britannica, and Greek mythology websites (with varying levels of quirkiness) all recount that she gave birth to three sons of Zeus. However, they tend to skip details relating to the circumstances of conception, and thus do not address the question of consent. The fact that Zeus disguised himself to deceive a woman in order to be able to possess her sexually is by one online author described as a ‘somewhat bizarre courting strategy’ (Cartwright, 2018), instead of calling it what it is - fraud and rape. In another account, the Roman poet Ovid writes that ‘fear filled her [Europe’s] heart as, gazing back, she saw the fast receding sands’ (Dulwich Picture Gallery, 2020), but there is no hint of a denunciation of an unjust and violent act. Across sources, formulations like ‘Soon though, she was calm again’ (Lebanon Untravelled, 2020); ‘He then revealed his true identity, and Europe became queen of Crete’ (van der Krogt, 2009); ‘Europa though prospered on Crete and married the Cretan king, Asterion” (Greek Legends and Myths, 2020), “Europa then readily agrees to be his lover’ (Quartermain, 2018) and ‘As she saw him in human form, she instantly fell in love’ (Windows2Universe, 2020), are the rule. Another online author points out that, to him, the end of the story of Europe was ‘surprisingly good’ (Greeka, 2020), compared to other, more tragic ancient myths. Perhaps the most shocking is a wholly uncritical reproduction of the myth by people who lived thousands of years ago, spotted in an article on the website of the otherwise reputable Konrad Adenauer Foundation. The article stated that ‘the abduction of Europe […], in antiquity, was read as a peaceful abduction. Thus not as a conflict, but the unification of two continents. Hence, the myth of Europe would have to be understood as the unification of two peoples. [...] and even more than that, as in this myth, heaven, the sea, the earth conjoin, and the gods with humans! A wonderful idea’ (Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, 2020). Unambiguous wording like ‘Once on the island, Zeus forced himself upon the princess’ does exist, but these instances are rare exceptions. While there is a theoretical possibility that Europe could have fallen in love with Zeus, and then consented to have sex with him, simply assuming this because she ended up pregnant is just more proof of how deeply entrenched patriarchal thinking patterns are in our culture. What is clear is that, regardless of whether she consented to sex at some point, Europe’s abuse began long before her arrival on Crete. The traditional narrative of the myth of Europe is depicted in the visual arts, too. It seems impossible to find a single painting,

vase, or sculpture showing a confused, hurt, crying or homesick Europe, despite the fact that it would be reasonable and expected for a person to feel such emotions in her situation. Works by Titian and Rembrandt are notable exceptions, as they convey a sense of chaos, danger and abruptness in Europe’s unwillingness and her friends’ fear as she is kidnapped. Whether Titian’s ostentatious style distracts from this message, or whether it even glorifies a violent act, is debatable. With this in mind, other great masters were much less critical. Guido Reni’s depiction of the abduction shows a calm, almost serene virginal figure, with her gaze lifted and one arm casually wrapped around the bull’s neck, as if she were thanking the heavens or prepared to head off on a new adventure. The scene offered by Johann Heinrich Tischbein is even more innocent: Europe is depicted sitting by the bull, who is lying tamely on the grass, minutes before her abduction. More recently, in 1924, Carl Milles created a sculpture depicting Europe as a confident and teasing sexual actor, enthroned on the bull’s back, with her head held high and reaching her hand towards the bull’s mouth who obediently licks it. Interestingly, the titles of many of these paintings contradict what is depicted and give a much clearer description as to what actually occurred - examples include ‘The Abduction of Europe’ or ‘The Rape of Europe’. Nevertheless, it should not be forgotten that historically and in different languages, “rape” referred not only to an act of sexual violence, but also to the theft of a woman, suggesting that she is an object to be stolen. The problem can therefore be easily identified – Europe was not asked, heard or listened to, and her story is rarely, if ever, told from her perspective. Had this been different, here is what she might have said: ‘One inconspicuous chilly day, my childhood ended, and a life began which I had not chosen. I was glad to be out playing with the other girls that afternoon, as I had fallen out with my mother earlier. I do not remember why, even though it must have seemed like an insurmountable issue at the time. We went to the beach and, like so many times before, my father’s herd of cattle came our way. I used to be rather shy around those big animals - but on that day I just could not take my eyes off a white, splendid bull. For a moment, it felt as if the bull had set its eyes on me, too, and it came my way. I began to stroke its back, and was amazed by the softness of its hide, and I noticed that its horns looked like gems. When the bull laid down, I picked some flowers and chained them together, ornamenting the horns with them. And then, as I sat on the back of the beast, the rest was a blur. The bull rose up and moved and I tried to laugh off my instant panic, but in no time we were in the water. I felt my feet getting wet and heard the girls scream on the shore. I was clutching on to the back of a bull swimming through the sea.



After all this time it still sounds completely absurd. The absurdity made me apathetic, then I was confused and frightened but I could not cry out; my mouth was sealed and my soul was paralysed. After an inestimable period of time, we reached the land. There, on the damp grass of this foreign land, I learned that the bull was Zeus. I was beautiful, he said, and he had chosen me to be his lover. To protect me from his wife’s revenge, he had come in disguise. Me, Zeus’ lover? I was a child, deceived and kidnapped. I wish Hera had known. Maybe she would have protected me from her husband’s limitless lust. Still on the damp grass, Zeus raped me, repeatedly and shamefully like a mortal. Long enough so that I could bear three children. The worst thing is, I am supposed to feel lucky. From the moment I was born a girl, a life of obedience and availability was my destiny. I would have to obey my father and brothers, and then a husband chosen by others. I probably would have faced years of rape, and pregnancy after pregnancy, and eventually I would have forced my daughters to endure the same. But now I was a princess, hailed for my beauty, chosen by the King of the Gods. He treated me like any other man would have in his place. When Zeus had enough of

me, he left me on the island with three gifts: a bronze giant named Talos, who circled the island to spot and parry intruders and to me seemed like my prison guard; a hunting dog called Laelaps who I never ceased to be scared of; and a javelin that never missed its target - which I found simply useless. After Zeus left me, I was lucky enough to be taken on by another man, despite being damaged goods and a mother of three. He married me and adopted my sons, and I became queen of Crete. Almost two millennia ago, artists began to immortalise me, and millions of strangers came to know my name. Things were named after me: a moon, a continent, a metal. My name and face was pressed on to coins and stamps. I was not swallowed by time and history like countless other women, so can I really complain? For an eternity, I thought, no. But now I know that I never wanted any of this, I never asked for any of this. Fame, immortality, for what? To be immortalized as a mute object in a legend? I was a princess, a god’s consort, a king’s queen and mother – but none of it saved me. To the men in my life, I was nothing but a possession, an asset, an object, a ball to kick around and play with, for a little while.’

References 1.

Cartwright, Mark. 2018. History Encyclopaedia. Available here. [Accessed 28 March 2021].


Dulwich Picture Gallery. 2020. Rape of Europa. Dulwich Picture Gallery. Available here. [Accessed 28 March 2021].


Lebanon Untravelled. 2020. The Seduction of Europe, Tyre. Lebanon Untravelled. Available here. [Accessed 28 March 2021].


Mahlknecht, S. 2010. Helena. Roman. Bozen: Edition.


Quartermain, Colin. 2018. The Story of Zeus and Europa in Greek Mythology. Owlcation. Available here. [Accessed 28 March 2021]. Van der Krogt, Peter and René. 2009. Europa and the Bull. Statues - Hither & Thither. Available here. [Accessed 28 March 2021].


Greek Legends and Myths. 2020. Greek Legends and Myths. Available here. [Accessed 28 March 2021].


Greeka. 2020. The Myth of Europa. Greeka. Available here. [Accessed 28 March 2021].



Konrad Adenauer Stiftung. 2020. Das Kapitol - Raub der Europa. Konrad Adenauer Stiftung. Available here. [In German] [Accessed 28 March 2021].

10. Windows2Universe. 2020. Europa. Windos2Universe. Available here. [Accessed 28 March 2021].

I find myself fantasizing about being a dancer. That’s why it made sense for me to visually experiment with body movement. I started thinking about this project during the lockdown and not being able to work with a model, led me to start taking self-portraits just to learn how time exposure affects the image. However, I ended up with a series of images that are a statement of how I’ve been feeling during this 2nd lockdown.

photography by Maria Garcia


TW violence, abuse

Mis-understanding feminism, backlash and privileged disgruntlement: the relationship between anti-feminist backlash and right-wing extremism


Lucy Nicholas

Associate Professor Gender and Sexuality and Sociology, Western Sydney University

Chris Agius

photography by Clem Onojeghuo @clemono

Senior Lecturer International Relations, Swinburne University

Kay Cook

Associate Professor Sociology, Swinburne University


here is an alarming rise in mass violence justified or accompanied by anti-feminism. Seven mass murders and the deaths of 53 people have been linked to the incel ‘movement’ or ideology (Tomkinson, Attwell & Harper 2020). ‘Incel’ is derived from ‘involuntary celibate’ and describes self-identifying men who resent women for their own inability to access sex and hold antifeminist and misogynistic backlash views. Incel culture is part of the ‘manosphere ’, an umbrella term for online spaces that are pro-men but also share antifeminist sentiments, and often have a violent tone.

In the public imagination and policy, violent extremism is mostly associated with terrorism and, in particular, jihadist or Islamic extremism. However, greater attention is being paid to ‘lone wolf’ attacks, and acts of terror are increasingly connected to right-wing extremism and white supremacy. There are scholars and critics calling for greater scrutiny of the extent to which white men are committing acts of terror and to the growth of extremist white supremacist right-wing ideology that often co-exists with anti-feminist ideas. Indeed, the key characteristic shared by those perpetrating mass violence is gender: ‘while mental health issues may be common among many mass shooters, the most striking commonality is that perpetrators are almost exclusively male’. (Vito, Admire and Hughes 2017:86) Most recent Australian ‘lone-wolf’ acts of terrorism were undertaken by men with a history of family violence and violence against women. Examples include the Bourke Street car attack in Melbourne in 2017, which killed 6 people, and the Lindt Café siege in Sydney in 2015, the perpetrator of which was a suspect as accessory in his ex-wife’s murder and had a long record of sexual assault. This is also the case for many acts outside of Australia, such as Omar Mateen, who shot 49 people and wounded 53 others at a gay nightclub in Orlando in June

2016 and had a history of serious abuse against his wife, and Khalid Masood, who drove a car into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge, London in 2017, and had an ongoing history of partner abuse. We undertook research that sought to explore our hunch that a sense of ‘aggrieved entitlement’ in response to divorce, and the approach of family courts and other institutions to domestic violence may be a key trigger point and/ or red-flag for the radicalisation of men into explicit anti-feminism and from there, or parallel to this, other reactionary extreme right-wing ideas. This hunch is bolstered by the fact that online fathers’ rights groups and discourses, expressing sentiments by men that decisions by family courts and custody laws have taken their parental rights away, co-exist very closely with much more radical anti-feminist and far-right sentiments. Thus, could disgruntlement with court decisions be a gateway to the radicalising ideas of men’s rights activism and the manosphere, and more broadly the altright and right-wing extremism? How can this disgruntlement be understood? And how can it be prevented? We asked some frontline workers who come into contact with men who commit domestic violence how these men understand feminism, and what seems to trigger their resentment, to see if there was any overlap with the more extreme sentiments found in the manosphere.


The ‘manosphere’

Have the men that you work with expressed anti-feminist sentiment?

8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Very often




0 Never

Backlash and entitlement


Existing research has proposed that one of the underpinning motivations for extremist ideas in white men is the backlash to progress. This has been described as ‘aggrieved entitlement’, a sense that power or entitlements that are considered rightfully yours and have historically been yours are being taken away (Vito, Admire and Hughes 2017). In Australia, for example, there was backlash to Racial Vilification laws, because right-wing white men felt this was taking away their ‘right to be a bigot’. This relies on putting the rights of white men before any other group and denying the impact of these ‘rights’ on the rights of others. Given the unequal distribution of power, with men still more powerful than women, and white people still more powerful than people of colour, this is actually a sense of a loss of privilege. To men, this feels like a power reversal that renders women/minorities more powerful than them because the hierarchy has been so naturalised.

The ‘manosphere’ demonstrates how backlash ideas come together. For us, a particular concern was that there is a great deal of overlap online between fathers’ rights – men concerned that family courts are privileging women – with men’s rights which tend to be more explicitly anti-women, and more outright misogynist and violent in sentiment. For example, the manosphere, which includes men’s rights groups that focus mostly on child custody, divorce and family courts, also includes groups such as Redpillers (a ‘Matrix’ analogy) who believe that feminism has skewed the truth, that women seek and need dominate men, which is linked to picking up artists who provide ‘beta’ men with strategies for coercing women into the sex they believe they are entitled to. MGTOWs (‘men going their own way’) believe that feminism has so oppressed men that they need to separate from women and go celibate, which intersects with the incel culture outlined above. Incels have proven to be some of the angriest and extreme examples of this phenomenon as the statistics above demonstrate. Indeed, in 2020 in Toronto, the first person was charged under terror laws for carrying out an ‘incel-inspired terrorist attack.’

Our Study We sought to find out from frontline workers in Australia, who come into regular contact with men who commit domestic violence, whether they detected backlash sentiments or aggrieved entitlement within the perpetrators. We did an anonymous survey with a small sample of 18 workers. Most of our questions were to gauge whether these men held anti-feminist of misogynistic views and how much this connected to wider disgruntlement. While respondents reported that men did not mention the term ‘feminism’ much explicitly, anti-feminist sentiment was very common, as this graph shows. However, when feminism was mentioned, it was overwhelmingly mis-characterised as man-hating, with 12 out of 18 respondents describing this as the understanding of feminism by the men they have contact with, using terms like ‘feminazi’. On top of that, feminism was perceived as part of a system that comes together to disempower men. One respondent said: ‘Those that have mentioned feminism do so to ‘vent’ about men’s rights being restricted, and that women are getting more power, men are being ignored and blamed/victimised.’ When asked what the main sources of disgruntlement were for the men they are in contact with, an overwhelming response was ‘the system’. It seems that men who use family violence feel that there is a system, consisting of the courts, child protection, the police, and their current or ex-partners, that has gone too far in supporting women and is biased against men. Relatedly, contact with the family court system was overwhelmingly the event which seemed to trigger the most radical sentiment. A massive challenge in preventing and countering this core idea of an anti-male system underpinning a sense of aggrieved entitlement is the rise in false information disguised as fact, largely from the manosphere that supports this perspective. ‘One-in-three’, ‘Dads in Distress’, and ‘#21fathers’ were all frequently mentioned by our respondents, all online sources of

misinformation about family violence, presenting themselves as legitimate. For example, the statistic of ‘one in three’ has become a catch-cry for those opposed to gender-based approaches to family violence prevention and services. It claims that one in three victims of domestic or family violence is male and that services are skewed towards women. While the statistic has been debunked (Gilmore 2015), unfortunately, it has already taken hold and the damage is done. This is an example of the anti-feminist lobbying based on false information which is often done around domestic violence, fathers’ rights and custody in the name of gender equality in many Global North contexts. Likewise, #21fathers cites the statistic that there are twenty one male suicides per week in Australia, claiming that this suicide rate is due to family access restrictions, an idea that has been taken up by the group Men’s Rights Australia. The campaign does go on to acknowledge that this correlation is based on ‘anecdotal evidence’ (#21fathers) but the correlation has reached traction to the extent that it is used as fact, cited by extreme right Australian political party One Nation among others (McPhedran 2017). One survey respondent echoed this directly, stating the men they work with mention ‘rates of male suicide, comparing these to rates of homicide towards women, attributing suicide to parental alienation or family violence perpetrated by women’. What we found then, was that anti-feminist sentiments among men who use family violence in Australia are implicit, abstract, and rarely tied directly to traditional membership of organisations. This makes it difficult to identify particular groups or organisations as radicalisation sites. However, there is good reason to believe men are individually accessing information for disgruntled men online, especially around family court and custody issues. While some wider reactionary sentiment was cited, directed at other minority groups such as Indigenous people and migrants, this was less explicit and apparent. Thus, it seems possible that action at the point of initial disgruntlement may be effective.


What can be done? It seems that the term ‘feminism’ has extremely negative connotations for men who use family violence. Accessing men ‘where they are’ has long been a key strategy of many violence prevention initiatives (Flood 2018) and would seem to make sense here when explicit engagement with feminism may cause a backlash. It serves to prevent alienating men at the start and taps into their own value systems as a foundation for change. However, Michael Flood argues that meeting men where they are has risks if it is not combined with critical reflection on privilege. Many men’s values ultimately need to be transformed to truly understand the context of inequality that reinforces family violence.


Much of what we found support existing practices, such as the feminist-underpinned strategies of many men’s behaviour change programmes in Australia. However, a key area that needs greater attention is that of how to manage the misinformation of online claims such as “1 in 3” and #21fathers which many men use to counter the information they are presented with in counselling and behaviour change. If men with a history of family violence are looking for this kind of affirmative messaging, and for the peer support and community they find in the manosphere, it must be made easier for them to access and believe information and support that is based in the (gendered) facts.

Particularly at the point of the first contact with the family court system and upon court decisions, a useful resource would be an alternative to online and real-life antifeminist fathers’ ‘support’ groups. While court-mandated men’s behaviour change is indispensable, some of the pressure may be relieved for these programmes if profeminist support groups could access men at the point of prevention, not after the fact. These have worked in other contexts, such as anti-machismo groups in Mexico City, however, we in Australia and other Global North countries are a long way from a context in which governments are prepared to fund pro-feminist support groups for men experiencing divorce and other family court matters.

References 1.

Flood, M. 2018. Engaging Men and Boys in Violence Prevention. Springer.


Gilmore, J. 2015 The ‘One in Three’ claim about male domestic violence victims is a myth. Sydney Morning Herald, April 29 2015. Available here. [Accessed 2 April 2021].


McPhedran, S. 2017, ‘FactCheck: are ‘up to 21 fathers’ dying by suicide every week?’, The Conversation, November 15, 2017. Available here. [Accessed 2 April 2021].


Tomkinson, S; Attwell, K; Harper, T. 2020. ‘Incel’ violence is a form of extremism. It’s time we treated it as a security threat. The Conversation May 27, 2020. Available here. [Accessed 2 April 2021].


Vito, Christopher; Admire, Amanda; Hughes, Elizabeth. 2018. Masculinity, aggrieved entitlement, and violence: considering the Isla Vista mass shooting, NORMA, 13:2, pp. 86-102.

artowrk by Marta Nunes 79

Anti-fem 2 by Chez Negrete

Something is wrong with #Feminism Samahara Hernandez



hile scrolling through social media, surely one of these phrases is likely to have caught your attention: ‘The future is female’, ‘Who run the world? Girls!’, ‘Women create their own world’. As a matter of fact, these catchphrases have had an evolving role in society which have helped in recreating women’s perception of their realities. These commercial quotes have been and continue to be popular. However, instead of unifying the feminist movement, they often further divide it. The main and legitimate foundations of feminist theories are crossing a

point of rupture, which will have a strong impact, for reasons which will be further investigated. The most important may be the different ways in which these social media movements have influenced society. Within social media, feminism has turned into a commercial discourse, a way to validate women’s victimisation rather than fundamentally changing societal gender roles within the economic, political and social spheres. This article explores the different reasons for the lack of impact and legitimacy of liberal contemporary feminist movements in the hypermodern era.

The hypermodern world and contemporary feminist movements In order to comprehend contemporary feminist movements, it is crucial to talk about hypermodernity. According to Gilles Lipovetsky, hypermodernity is defined as ‘a society characterized by movement, fluidity and flexibility, distanced more than ever from the great structuring principles of modernity’ (Lipovetsky, 2005). Considering that modernity is ‘the belief in the freedom of the human being natural and inalienable’ (Wagner, 2011), the hypermodern era subverts this idea by restructuring society and its daily interactions. When speaking about contemporary feminist movements, it is important to note that they mostly take place within the realm of social media, provoked by the mobility of the hypermodern world. Most feminist movements nowadays are predominantly driven by hedonism or satisfaction of a spectacle and outreach in order to to be part of a globalised fight. In fact, these movements serve to spread a lot of shortterm, popular messages, rather than creating a long-term strategy to further the feminist cause. As such, regardless of their success in reaching out to people, they tend to lack transformative actions in society. The massification of feminist discourse through social media appears to be an egocentric fashionable aspect of the feminism of women from privileged socioeconomic backgrounds. In their

attempt to change women’s realities, social media has given feminist movements the opportunity to speak, empathise and spread their discourse. Media, ‘having the power of unlimited mass homogenization’ (Squires & Weldes, 2008), recreates identities and plays with certain stories in order to create shortterm realities and changes. In this regard, Hutchings notes, ‘feminist movements and campaigns have focused on many different goals[...]. They have paid close attention to ensuring equal civil and political rights for women and transforming political institutions to be more representative and inclusive of women’s interests’ (Lloyd, 2005). However, these attempts to transform political institutions and assure equal rights have been unsuccessful, because social media, in this case, homogenises discourses and political, social and economic goals. Because women are not homogenous, these goals cannot be realised by a homogenous feminist movement. The contemporary feminist movements discussed in this paper, such as #MeToo, #TimesUp and #HeforShe, come from the top of the socio-hierarchical pyramid. Within the hypermodern environment of social media, they are characterised as resistance movements which will benefit the masses. In reality, the ones who benefit from these movements are the privileged women of the capitalist world.


Grítale by Chez Negrete The evolution of feminism throughout the years has reached a point at which the postmodern world no longer has what it takes to sustain contemporary feminist movements. So, what’s next? It appears that this era is provoking a radical anti-feminist epoch within the hypermodern world: ‘hypermodern’ because most social contemporary movements are ephemeral and serve only as informational bombs that lack real impact for all women in the world, and, ‘radical anti-feminist’ because these movements create a tendency towards liberal feminism with an absence of real actions to transform the system.

Radical over liberal feminism: a theoretical emancipatory framework


In this regard, while liberal feminists search for an equality with men based on sharing men’s power as a route of sex discrimination; radical feminists see male power ‘as a power domination over things or other human beings that had resulted historically in the subordination of women’ (Lloyd, 2005). However, ‘given that most contemporary feminist scholarship takes gender – which embodies relationships of power inequality – as its central category of analysis, the fact that the meaning of gender is so often misunderstood is, I believe, central to problems of misunderstanding and miscommunication’ (Tickner, 1997). Most of the time, the misconception of feminism is the real reason why contemporary feminist movements are not achieving what radical feminists want: a real change in gendered structures where women can act upon their will and overcome patriarchy once and for all. The historical evolution of societal, economic and political concerns is relapsing into an individualistic disintegrated state where collective revolutionary movements are only a way of self-fulfilment and group validation instead of having an emancipatory project opening spaces for struggles against certain topics such as racism, imperialism, homophobia or class domination.

#TimesUp, #HeforShe and #Metoo: have they made any difference? Today, revolutions take place on the internet and not in the streets. Hashtags turn into a social movement and a revolutionary act, often at the expense of real action and impact. Social media has become the most commonly used tool for spreading campaign messages, as #Metoo, #HeforShe, or #TimesUp demonstrate. When speaking of social movements with specific transformative goals, social media is just a useful bridge without an end. In fact, ‘the society that is coming into being is one in which the forces opposing democratic, liberal and individualistic visions have collapsed, in which modernization no longer meets with any strong organizational or ideological resistance’ (Lipovetsky, 2005). These three movements exemplify the lack of legitimacy and impact often found in hypermodern campaigns. Firstly, #Metoo. This movement was created by a female activist, Tarana Burke, founder of Just Be Inc. focused on empowering women of colour. #Metoo seeks to share with the world stories and experiences of sexual abuse or harassment. Burke utilised social media to tell the world how she felt and create a space for empathy. However, according to sociologist Jen Schradie, ‘what is needed to solidify #MeToo is its viral legacy’ (LaMotte, 2017). She notes that ‘the movements that are most successful are those who have an organizational infrastructure in place: a network, a coalition, a united front of a group or established organizations’. Given the power of social media, the massification of a social movement online creates a feminist label anyone can identify with, without understanding the real discourse and cause behind it, and

thus without achieving concrete goals. Social movements generally include a balance of both redistribution of resources in society and recognition of identity emphasising the relation between the two with these evolving political opportunities and economic contexts. However, the lack of impact and feminist legitimacy of this movement is linked directly to its audience which mainly consists of western English-speaking women who have access to their webpage. Secondly, #HeforShe. The main objective of this campaign is to pledge men into ‘taking action against all forms of violence and discrimination faced by women and girls’ (Young, 2014) yet this ‘says nothing about problems affecting men and boys’ (Young, 2014). If emancipatory feminism seeks a real transformation from the ground up in order to achieve freedom and equality, it will not succeed in doing so by using these discourses. They segregate society and create more anti-feminist sentiment, which is counterproductive. For example, Emma Watson, the image of the campaign, pledged and tried to modify these discourses by alleging and treating these situations as ‘unfair stereotypes’ (Young, 2014). However, this sets a precedent that could create anti-feminist revolts by not creating an inclusive discourse where all societal actors are involved. With the support of the United Nations, the #HeforShe campaign has worked as a platform to create awareness in society without, however, taking real action to improve women’s lives. It promotes the engagement of institutions and associations to fight for an equal world, yet remains purely informative.



Finally, #TimesUp. This campaign was started by ‘more than 300 women in Hollywood attempting to fight sexual harassment in their own industry—and, crucially, far beyond’ (Garber, 2018). In fact, the movement was built by ‘for the most part, powerful women. For the most part, wealthy women. For the most part, white women’ (Garber, 2018). It becomes apparent that these movements are mostly implemented by those who speak and act from a privileged position. #TimesUp ‘includes efforts to create legislation that will penalize companies that tolerate harassment, and that will discourage the use of the nondisclosure agreements that have helped to silence victims of abuse’ (Garber, 2018). Furthermore, it seeks to raise 15,000,000 dlls (Bennett, 2014) to provide legal support for women, men, and in particular, the actresses who have experienced sexual harassment, assault, or abuse in the workplace, administered by the National Women’s Law Center’s Legal Network for Gender Equity. Certainly, no matter how many millions they collect, this won’t redistribute power; the privilege thus remains with a certain group. Thereby, the movement only achieves short-term goals rather than introducing fundamental change. #TimesUp has recorded constant donations, and yet there are no records of the number of women who have received help from the Law Centre, begging the question - why not? What these movements lack are real-life infrastructure and clear objections, other than increasing awareness and encouraging donations.

Web-based campaigns like #TimesUp, #HeforShe and #Metoo only homogenise feminism as westernised and gentrified, relevant only for women who have access to the internet and social media accounts and those who speak English. Hence, the very discourse of ‘feminism for all’ lacks real cohesion and is biased towards specific groups. Elites imposing feminist messages breaks with the roots of the movement and portrays an illusory fight for equality and transformation.

I would like to stress the importance of acknowledging radical feminism from an emancipatory point of view in the hypermodern era and the constructive impact it has on the continuation of feminist accomplishments. After the suffrage movement, the right to divorce, the sexual revolution in the 60’s and the rebirth of feminism as a powerful discourse of liberty, there has been a broken bridge between advocators, policy makers and society. There is a lack of knowledge of what feminism is and how it can radically change lives. Feminism has failed to endure as a true champion of societal change and contemporary movements can inadvertently strengthen the cause of anti-feminism.

Indeed, contemporary feminist movements in the hypermodern era are illegitimate, as they are not making a strong impact on society. They are creating empty commercial discourses, securing the path for victimisation rather than creating true change in society. Radical feminism from an emancipatory point of view has the potential to achieve a real transformation by abolishing inequalities, questioning the existing social, political and economic norms and institutions and finally, deconstructing unjust systems for women and men. Something is wrong with #Feminism and a new path must be created in order to move society towards a more gender-equal system.

Anti-fem 6 by Chez Negrete

Find out more #Feminism Activism Marxism and Feminism The subconscious sexism of today’s feminist movement Feminism is for everybody by Bell Hooks

References 1.

Garber, M. 2018. Is This the Next Step for the #MeToo Movement? The Atlantic. Available here. [Accessed 28 March 2021].


LaMotte, S. 2017 #MeToo: From social campaign to social change? CNN. Available here. [Accessed 28 March 2021].


Lipovetsky, G. 2005. Hypermodern times. Polity Press: Cambridge, UK. pp. 51.


Lloyd, M. 2005. Beyond identity politics: feminism, power and politics. SAGE Publications: Thousand Oaks, California.


Lloyd, M. 2005. Beyond identity politics: feminism, power and politics. SAGE Publications: Thousand Oaks, California.


Squires, J & Weldes, J. 2008. ‘Beyond Being Marginal: Gender and International Relations’ in Stephen Gill, Power and Resistance in the New World Order. (Second edition). New York: PalgraveMacMillan. p.67


Tickner, J. 1997. You Just Don’t Understand: Troubled Engagements between Feminists and IR Theorists. International Studies Quarterly,41(4), 611632. p. 615. Available here. [Accessed 28 March 2021].


Wagner, P. 2011. Modernity: understanding our present time. Lychnos No. 05. Available here. [Accessed 28 March 2021].


Young, C. 2014. Sorry, Emma Watson, but HeForShe Is Rotten for Men. Time. Available here. [Accessed 28 March 2021].



photography by Sylwia Kowalczyk


Tyler Durden

They banned the music Trying to silence the rumbling of our drums of war. They privatized the ashes, For fear that we would catch fire. And just like a puppet fears the thread, So they warned us against our dreams. But by seizing the fear, They didn't realize They were leaving us without nothing to lose. We are a pissed Parnassus crying for revolution. First came the thirst, and we were the drunkards That made an event out of their suicide And sold the entrance cheaper than any beer you could find Only under one condition: The shame should be left hanged at the door. Then came those eyes full of storms, dawns and a hope unmatched in written words: No under-eye circles could hold the dreams up; And finally the dreams filled up like glasses Meaning, until they overflowed everything. Then everything was soiled with an indomitable laughter A contaminating freedom. Smiles lighted up like fire The words filled with humour, secrets and pornography The ideas made of mud waited for us, potters of the world to do with them what we wanted. And a need emerged of trying things In the same way bakers do: Meaning: relying in our mouth to rediscover all the senses. We remembered that the arms were used hug And we did so as part of a rebellious act. We turned the promised paradise into a rented room, we threw lighted matches to the starless ceilings Bright enough to make a wish. And turned the city into an open sea, Raising springs in every corner. We drawed hopscotchs in the parks To remind us that life is but a jumping game losing the fear to fall Because the only failure is giving up The rest is just life We are alive And no oblivion can stop us




artwork by Narcisa Gambier

TW violence, domestic abuse

Victoria Kiasyo Isika

PhD Sociology Candidate, University of Nottingham, U.K

Breaking normative barriers:

Kenyan women’s resistance to sexual IPV

photography by Muhammadtaha Ibrahim Ma’aji @planete.elevene


ccording to a literature review conducted by Mannell and colleagues (2016), mainstream academic insights on heterosexual intimate partner violence (IPV) conceptualize women’s agency as either reporting the abuse or leaving the male perpetrator. While such actions demonstrate women’s capacity to take action, these scholars argue that those deploying less salient approaches to addressing their victimization are often painted as weak or devoid of agency. Therefore, a limited perspective on women’s responses to heterosexual IPV risks masking the multifarious ways in which women navigate oppressive spaces. An alternative perspective to IPV is arguably more effective, as it ‘not only helps abused women muster their resources, but also helps others (activists, lawyers, judges, police officers) to see the other things the woman is and to look at what she does rather than only what is done to her’ (Showden, 2011, p.80, my emphasis). This approach is especially crucial for women experiencing IPV in socially constrained environments such as Kenya, where options of leaving or reporting are restricted by traditional gender frameworks (Uthman, et al., 2009).

My research is focused on women’s responses to physical, emotional, economic and sexual IPV but the latter will be the primary focus of this article. My qualitative interviews with 28 low-income female participants in Mombasa and Nairobi investigated the manifold ways in which their behaviours challenged dominant discourses sanctioning men’s entitlement over women in intimate relationships. I employed the terms ‘hegemonic femininity’ (see Schippers, 2007) and ‘oppositional femininity’ (see Charlebois, 2010) to distinguish between women’s embodiment of behaviours, attitudes or practices that subscribed to or against mainstream gender expectations respectively. According to the findings, women’s refusal to engage in sexual intimacy was triggered by perpetual experiences of marital rape and prolonged economic IPV stemming from male infidelity. 54-year old Margaret was

one woman who overtly resisted dominant expectations in patriarchal societies such as Kenya, which confer men unlimited sexual access over women’s bodies (Djamba and Kimuna, 2008). When relaying her thoughts on what constitutes a ‘good’ woman in a heterosexual partnership, one of the things she stated was that, ‘A wife is responsible […] for having sex with her husband’. However, when later recounting her encounter with long-term marital infidelity and associated financial abuse, her unfolding narrative broke with the ‘conjugal duties of wives’ discourse (Yllo, 1999) when she revealed her almost decade-long sexual resistance. Shifting away from traditional expectations, Margaret’s oppositional femininity was additionally informed by her fear of contracting HIV from her licentious husband. As a community health worker in a large informal settlement in Nairobi, she was extremely knowledgeable of the gendered deleterious effects of the disease:

As a community health volunteer, I know all about HIV … I see what infected women go through. A woman can tell you, ‘I was infected by my husband’ and in most cases, the women end up dying before the men. They didn’t expect something like that could happen to them, so they die you see. That’s why I refused to sleep with him ….

Overt noncompliance to traditional gender roles notwithstanding, oppositional femininities in my study were also manifested in ‘more subtle forms of resistance’ (Charlebois, 2010, p.32). Implicit sexual avoidance was demonstrated in ways such as retiring to bed early, feigning exhaustion, sleeping on the opposite side of the bed, placing children in the middle of the bed or sleeping in their children’s bedrooms. Even so, the participants’ avoidance of sexual interactions (whether overt or covert) bore the risk of incurring reprisals. Their demonstration of gender ‘inappropriate’ behaviour challenged current power disparities in their household and

verbal and physical aggression functioned to re-align their conformity to the sexually submissive hegemonic feminine representation. Hatcher et al.’s (2013) IPV study in Kenya showed that women’s sexual refusal has been perceived by men as a marker of unfaithfulness. 19-year old Mercy’s partner questioned her fidelity and used the Swahili pejorative epithet ‘malaya’ (meaning ‘whore’) to erode her self-image when she declined his sexual advances. However, she tactfully negotiated abuse by ‘keeping quiet’ to diffuse tension which she exercised alongside subtle sexual avoidance strategies by relocating to another room with their nine-month-old daughter:

It reaches a time he forces you (to have sex with him) and when you tell him you’re not in the mood he gets upset and leaves…. (He tells me), ‘You never want to sleep with me, all you do is sleep around with other men like a malaya!’ So, when he talks like that you just keep quiet and tell him ‘It’s OK’ (and) I usually take the baby and sleep in the other room and leave him.


@astro.nic.visuals photography by Nick Owuor


The situation was quite different for women like 25-year old Rahma who faced retaliatory physical IPV as a result of her overt refusal to have sex with her unfaithful and financially neglectful husband. Crippled with fear, she vowed never to provoke her partner to anger and thus yielded to sexual acquiescence for self-preservation:

One time I refused to have sex with him and he tore all my clothes! He even poured water on me and took a knife! Since then I’ve never denied him sex, I sleep with him whenever he wants to until he is satisfied … He tore all my clothes! And said, ‘You’re my wife and I have given you a house to live in, yet you refuse to sleep with me? Are you sleeping with another man?!’... I slept with him since then and said to myself that I would rather have sex with him. If he can tear your clothes, don’t you think someone like him can do something even worse (to me)?

Rahma’s transition from oppositional to hegemonic femininity affirmed the strong influence of discourses of heterosexuality when she resigned herself to the ‘good’ woman/wife knowledge frame (Hatcher et al., 2013; Gatwiri and Karanja, 2016; Gillum et al., 2016). Bolstering the conjugal duties of wives discourse, her husband’s assertion (‘You are my wife and I have given you a house to live in’) served as a form of sadistic reminder of her sexually subservient role. Moreover, in consonance with Shefer et al.’s (2000) IPV study among heterosexual participants in South Africa, the ‘male

propriety rights over women’ discourse was also evoked in Rahma’s quote, which demonstrated how ‘violence or the threat of violence’ served as a conduit for ‘regulating women’s sexual behaviour’ (p.13). Indeed, results from IPV studies in Kenya have not only highlighted the correlation between sexual and physical IPV (Fonck et al., 2005; Kimuna and Djamba, 2008) but also suggest that such aggressive tendencies by men originate from customary practices (e.g dowry payment and widow inheritance) ascribing women as male properties (Kimuna, et al., 2018).

The Kenyan government has over the years attempted to protect the rights of women through national legal frameworks, with the most recent being the Protection Against Domestic Violence Act 2015 which also criminalizes traditional practices such as forced marriage, forced wife inheritance and sexual violence in marriage (Government of Kenya, 2015). Notwithstanding this, the embeddedness of harmful traditional mores within Kenya’s socio-cultural fabric ostensibly outweighs the legal protection for women against domestic abuse (UNAIDS, 2006 cited in Kimuna et al., 2018). As long as women in Kenya are relegated to second-class citizenship, participants like Rahma will continue facing a high risk of STI and HIV infection due to their inability to negotiate safe sex in their relationships (see Kimuna & Djamba, 2008). Nevertheless, remaining cognizant of the unique ways in which women navigate their IPV experiences may inform policy and programming which focus on gender norms transformation in Kenya and the subSaharan Africa context at large.

References 1.

Charlebois, J. 2010 Gender and the Construction of Hegemonic and Oppositional Femininities. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.


Djamba, Y. K. and Kimuna, S. R. 2008. Intimate partner violence among married women in Kenya., Journal of Asian and African Studies, 43(4), pp. 457–469.


Fonck, K; Leye, E; Kidula, N; Ndinya-Achola, J & Temmerman, M. 2005. Increased Risk of HIV in Women Experiencing Physical Partner Violence in Nairobi, Kenya. AIDS and Behavior, 9(3), pp. 335–339.


Kimuna, S., Tenkorang, E. . & Djamba, Y. 2018. Ethnicity and Intimate Partner Violence in Kenya. Journal of Family Issues, 39(11), pp. 2958–2981.

10. Mannell, J., Jackson, S. & Umutoni, A. 2016. Women’s responses to intimate partner violence in Rwanda: Rethinking agency in constrained social contexts. Global Public Health, 11(1–2), pp. 65–81. 11.

Schippers, M. 2007. Recovering the Feminine Other: Masculinity, Femininity, and Gender Hegemony. Theory and Society, 36(1), pp. 85–102.


Gatwiri, G.J and Karanja, A. M. 2016. Silence as power: Women bargaining with patriarchy in Kenya. Social Alternatives, 35(1), pp. 13–18.


Gillum, T. L., Doucette, M., Mwanza, M., & Munala, L. 2016. Exploring Kenyan Women’s Perceptions of Intimate Partner Violence. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 33(13), pp. 2130–2154.


Government of Kenya. 2015. Kenya Gazette Supplement, Acts 2015. The Protection Against Domestic Violence Act No. 2 of 2015. Kenya.


Hatcher, A. M; Romito, P; Odero, M; Bukusi, E.A; Onono, M & Turan, J.M. 2013. Social context and drivers of intimate partner violence in rural Kenya: implications for the health of pregnant women. Culture Health & Sexuality, 15(4), pp. 404-419.

14. Uthman, O., Lawoko, S. and Moradi, T. 2009. Factors associated with attitudes towards intimate partner violence against women: a comparative analysis of 17 sub-Saharan countries. BMC International Health and Human Rights, 9(14).


Kimuna, S. R. and Djamba, Y. K. 2008. Gender Based Violence: Correlates of Physical and Sexual Wife Abuse in Kenya. Journal of Family Violence, 23(5), pp. 333–342.

15. Yllo, K. 1999. Wife Rape: A Social Problem for the 21st Century. Violence Against Women, 5(9), pp. 1059–1063.

12. Shefer, T., Strebel, A. and Foster, D. 2000. “So women have to submit to that. . .” Discourses of power and violence in students’ talk on heterosexual negotiation. South African Journal of Psychology, 30(2), pp. 11-19. 13. Showden, R. C. 2011. Choices Women Make: Agency in Domestic Violence, Assisted Reproduction, and Sex Work. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.



artwork by Inês Pinto

TW violence, abuse, assault


The experience of women with disabilities and intimate partner abuse Dr Yvette Basson Lecturer, University of the Western Cape

Women with disabilities have historically been discriminated against on two bases – their gender, and their disability.1 The intersection of these two issues has resulted in much higher levels of abuse among women with disabilities than women without disabilities, and even among other persons with disabilities.2

photography by Alexander Krivitskiy @alexanderkrivitskiy

Why is this the case?

Women with disabilities are more vulnerable to abuse in many ways: they are more likely to be institutionalised than other persons with disabilities;3 they are often confined to the home in situations of family-based care4 and in some cases, traditional gender norms have disenfranchised these women, preventing them from reporting their abuse.5 In many countries, the continued existence of outdated gender norms has contributed to the higher levels of abuse experienced by women with disabilities.6 In particular, the outdated notion that a woman’s place is in the home, and that she should serve her male relatives7 has resulted in women with disabilities losing the ability to defend themselves and speak up about the abuse they face. Women with disabilities have consistently been found to have lower levels of education, higher levels of poverty and less access to healthcare than their peers.8 These circumstances put them at an even greater risk for experiencing violence from caregivers, family members and intimate partners.


What is intimate partner abuse? Intimate partner abuse is any form of abuse (including emotional, physical and mental) perpetrated by one partner in an intimate (i.e. romantic) relationship against the other.9 Intimate partner violence differs from other forms of violence because, in addition to the abuse itself, it violates the initial love and trust given by the victim to their abuser.10 Abuse originating within families often occurs in situations where the abused person is unable to escape. Women with disabilities often experience both gender-based violence and disabilitybased violence. Gender-based violence is a relatively well-known concept and there is a wealth of information covering what it can entail, namely physical, emotional and sexual abuse.11 A woman with a disability is vulnerable not only to these types of abuse but also to abuse

that specifically targets her disability. Examples of disability-based violence include denying access to healthcare and medication, food and rehabilitation services, and removing mobility devices.12 Women with disabilities are often dependent on their intimate partner for their everyday care.13 This can result in prolonged, undetected periods of abuse since the woman’s interactions with other people may be suppressed within the abuse context.14 Such women also might not have the means to free themselves from their abuse, as their intimate partners may control the household resources.15 A woman with a disability experiencing this type of abuse may essentially be imprisoned by her abuser – either physically, through the removal of outside contact, emotionally, through oppression, or both.

Women with disabilities are more likely to experience severe forms of physical violence, sexual assault and, most worryingly, disability-related neglect from their intimate partners.17 Compared to women without disabilities, they are also exposed to this abuse for longer periods of time.18


The number of women with disabilities experiencing this type of abuse is hard to gauge, mainly because these women find themselves in positions of disempowerment, oppression, isolation and forced silence, leaving many unable to report abuse.16 However, from the sparse information available, certain patterns have emerged.

photography by Rodolfo Clix

What does the research say?

The difficulty in identifying abusive situations has contributed to the prolonged periods of intimate partner abuse experienced by women with disabilities. For example, healthcare workers have expressed how challenging it can be to recognise when a patient is being victimised.19 Where a woman’s outside contact is limited, and a healthcare worker is one of the few people she interacts with outside of her household, their inability to recognise an abusive situation can severely limit the opportunities that a woman has to seek help.

How to move forward?

98 The answer is not straightforward. One possible first step is taking an active approach to identifying abusive situations. To provide an effective remedy, we must also provide women with disabilities access to the resources they need to escape their abuser. This may include awareness campaigns, door to door visits, enforcing privacy in medical consultations and even providing ways to report abuse anonymously. These are all strategies that have been used in combating gender-based violence amongst women without disabilities, albeit to varying degrees of success.20 In my view, one root of the problem is the outdated societal norms that have disenfranchised not only women with disabilities, but women more generally, and other persons with disabilities as well. As long as society remains ignorant of the difficulties faced by women, the problem of gender-based violence will persist. As long as some parents continue to raise their sons to devalue women, gender-based violence will persist. As long as people with disabilities are seen as ‘charity cases’, disability-based violence will persist. Changing these norms has been the focus of many campaigns over the years, and while progress has been made, much more is needed. For the women trapped in these situations, such change cannot come fast enough.

References 1.

Breiding MJ, Armour BS. 2015. The association between disability and intimate partner violence in the United States. Annals of Epidemiology. pp. 455457.


Hague G, & Mullender A. 2010. Losing out on both counts: disabled women and domestic violence’ Disability & Society. pp. 757.


American Psychological Association. Abuse of Women with Disabilities. Available here. [Accessed 13 March 2021].


American Psychological Association. Abuse of Women with Disabilities. Available here. [Accessed 13 March 2021].


World Health Organisation. Intimate Partner Violence. Available here.


Valentine A, Akobirshoev I, Mitra M. 2019. Intimate Partner Violence against women with disabilities in Uganda. International Journal of Environmental Health and Public Research. 16(6). pp. 947.




Barrett KA, O’Day B, Roche A, Carlson BL. 2009. Intimate partner violence, health status, and health care access among women with disabilities. Women’s Health Issues. 19(2). pp. 95.


Larsen, M. 2016. Health Inequities related to Intimate Partner Violence against Women. pp.110.

10. ibid. 11.

Women for Women International. What does this mean? Gender based violence. Available here. [Accessed 13 March 2021].

12. American Psychological Association. Abuse of Women with Disabilities. Available here. [Accessed 13 March 2021]. 13. US Department of Health and Human Services. Violence against women with disabilities. Available here. [Accessed 13 March 2021]. 14. Nosek MA, Foley CC, Hughes RB, Howland. 2001. CA Vulnerabilities for abuse among women with disabilities. Violence and Victims. pp.178. 15. US Department of Health and Human Services. Violence against women with disabilities. Available here. [Accessed 13 March 2021]. 16. Breiding MJ, Armour BS. 2015. The association between disability and intimate partner violence in the United States. Annals of Epidemiology. pp.455457. 17. Powers L.E, Renker P, Robinson-Whelen S, Oschwald M, Hughes R, Swank P, Curry MA. 2009. Interpersonal Violence and Women with Disabilities. Violence Against Women. pp.15. 18. Nosek MA, Foley CC, Hughes RB, Howland. 2001. CA Vulnerabilities for abuse among women with disabilities. Violence and Victims. pp.178. 19. Findley, PA & Plummer SB. 2013. Women with Disabilities’ Experience with Physical and Sexual Abuse: Exploring International Evidence. pp.3. 20. Dunkle K, Gibbs A, Chirwa E, Stern E, van der Heijden I, Washington L. 2020. How do programmes to prevent intimate partner violence among the general population impact women with disabilities? BMJ Global Health. 2.

The present poem and picture were submitted to us anonymously. The author told us that the picture represents the survival of the essence of a woman to male oppression. Male oppression is represented by the grey colours.


Look back at the hurricane. Hurt, beaten, untrusted, unheard. Ordered to shut up and stay still. Don’t move. Don’t see. Speak nothing. Stay in silence. Alone in the dark and hot bedroom. Music and tears on. Living in pain, silenced away (can still feel his hands on my neck) Hug the whirlwind Flow in the sorrow (Processing and letting go Healing that will make you grow)

Meet the team


Belén González Leggire Belén is an Uruguayan journalist, currently based in Edinburgh, with a Master’s degree in Gender Studies and Public Policy from Universitat de Barcelona. She is a strong feminist and advocate of gender equality, and has carried out research on sexual violence against women during the military coups in the Latinamerican context, and the design and implementation of social care systems from a gender perspective. A coffee lover and owl enthusiast, Belén is currently braving the cold Scottish waters to give wild swimming a try. Twitter: @BelenGonzalezL

Lucy Planet Creative Producer and Assistant Editor BA (Hons) Theatre and Film, Queen Margaret University. Lucy’s passion is to exist backstage in the world of performance. She has experience producing short films and operating lighting and sound equipment for live theatre performances. She has joined WomenBeing to ensure that only the best quality of content is presented: accurate, grammatically correct and powerfully expressed. She hopes, through her work at WomenBeing, to contribute to the divulgation of knowledge concerning the issues that women are facing worldwide.

Elizabeth Connaughton Elizabeth is an intersectional feminist, a solictor and more recently a legal assistant at the Scottish Law Commission. While at university, she campaigned for climate justice and women’s rights as President of Edinburgh University Amnesty International. These days, she is a Trustee of YWCA Scotland and has volunteered with Zero Tolerance. In her spare time, she can normally be found running, playing netball (in non-pandemic times) or with her nose in a book.

Claire Seaman Erin Lynch Erin is a recent graduate of English Literature from the University of Edinburgh, who started working as an assistant editor for the team from September 2020. Throughout university, Erin has taken opportunities to work in theatre production and student activism, working on projects with the initiative Tackling Elitism at Edinburgh University. After graduation, she is looking towards a career in communications and editing. Erin is a passionate intersectional feminist, and is honoured to be amongst the inspiring advocates at WomenBeing.

Narcisa Gambier Narcisa is a creative designer based in Edinburgh. By day she fulfils graphic design needs and by night she’s the Creative Director of WomenBeing. She’s a feminist and an animal rights advocate. By being part of the WomenBeing team she hopes to put her skills to good use and to create positive social change. She’s a keen illustrator, an avid reader and all her free time goes towards spoiling her cat.

Claire is a Professor in Claire is a Professor in Enterprise and Family Business. She has published extensively on family businesses in the UK, New Zealand and Latin American and is a regular contributor to family business conferences worldwide. Her most recent publication is The Modern Family Business, which she developed alongside colleagues. She works closely with business organisations, such as the Scottish Family Business Association, Family Business United and local economic development agencies.


Katharina Heisig After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Literature and Theatre Studies from Freie Universität Berlin, Katharina co-edited the magazine from March to July in 2020, whilst working on her Master of Science in Publishing at Edinburgh Napier University. Katharina had already lived in Edinburgh in 2016/17, where she studied English Literature at the University of Edinburgh as part of the Erasmus+ programme. During the last year of her Master’s, she also volunteered as Communications Manager for the Edinburgh Napier Feminist Society, where she first took notice of WomenBeing’s work. Currently, Katharina is a production editor working for an academic publisher in Berlin. Twitter: @Katharinah1994

Chantal Mrimi Mairead Gardner Mairead is a communications and content design specialist who has worked in the public, private and third sectors for over a decade. She is an intersectional feminist, and has worked on projects exploring issues around domestic abuse and providing support for survivors. After attending the first WomenBeing conference, Mairead joined the team in 2019 as coEditorial Director of the magazine. Alongside her love of reading, writing and editing, Mairead can be found exploring Scotland with her young family.

Kat Dlugosz Kat has joined WomenBeing at its inception and provides creative and conceptual support, also makes sure that our talks and lectures are well documented. She’s a freelance videographer and photographer with a strong passion for projects tackling social issues. Currently studying for her master degree in Communications for Development at Malmö University, Sweden. Plant mum and a keen cyclist.

Chantal Mrimi is an author, essayist, public speaker, civil servant and philanthropist who was crowned ‘Scottish Woman of the Year’ in 2018. Her autobiography, ‘The Journey of My Life from Rwanda’ details her extraordinary life as refugee from Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo who settled in Scotland and became a stalwart in her community. Chantal is a passionate human rights advocate, particularly the right of young women in Africa to access education. She currently works for Fife Council and holds degrees from Abertay University and the Open University.



Chay Brown Chay Brown is a PhD scholar from Alice Springs in Australia’s Northern Territory, with a background in international development and education. She completed her Master’s research on the impact of the Northern Territory Emergency Response on violence against women in Alice Springs’ town camps, and later extended that research to look at Indigenous-led projects and interventions designed to prevent violence against women.

Francesca Barga Francesca Barga is an international human rights lawyer. She is also an international consultant for NGOs in Southeast Asia in the areas of international criminal law, gender, migration and labour law. She holds a law degree and two LLMs in International Law (United Nations 2016, Fordham University School of Law 2018).

Lucy Nicholas Lucy Nicholas (they/them/ their) is Associate Professor of Gender and Sexuality and Sociology, Director of Sexualities and Genders Research, and Associate Dean International (Acting) of the School of Social Sciences at Western Sydney University. lucyknicholas.wordpress.com

Anxhela Filaj Anxhela Filaj is an Albanian advocate for gender equality and a chocolate chip cookie connoisseur. She is currently pursuing a PhD at the University of Debrecen and working on the development of women’s image on screen in the aftermath of the #metoo movement. Her interests include film theories, women’s studies, and graphic representations of sexual violence. You can find her at https://unideb. academia.edu/ElaFilaj.

Léa Luiz de Oliveira Léa (she/her) is a FrenchBrazilian filmmaker based in Scotland. She has presented works (‘Until Sunrise’, ‘I Don’t Want To Call It Home’) at several international film festivals and her documentary, “Spit It Out”, was commissioned by BBC Scotland. Léa is currently working on a new documentary exploring the power of art in activism through the story of trans* musician and activist Callie Rose.

Chipo Hungwe Professor Chipo Hungwe is Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and Executive Dean of the Social Sciences Faculty at the Midlands State University in Gweru, Zimbabwe. She has published works on gender, migration and urban agriculture.

Ifafoye Olajumoke Ifafoye Olajumoke is the founder of the Stop Violence Against Women and Children Initiative (SVWCI). She has worked in the humanitarian sector for over ten years, and has completed several courses on human rights, child protection, and UN training for women. She is most passionate about helping women to realize their worth, to love above the shackles of patriarchy, and to thrive to be the best version of themselves.

Bee Asha Singh Bee Asha (she/her) grew up between the homes of her Punjabi father and Scottish mother. She is one third of The Honey Farm, a Scottish female rap group that promotes female confidence. Bee is also a solo spoken word artist, whose work often tackles social injustice and gender equality. Her work is the central focus of the BBC documentary, “Spit It Out”, by Léa Luiz de Oliveira.

Lisa Settari Lisa Settari is a Politics graduate from the University of Edinburgh, currently works as a language teacher in France and will finally dedicate her full attention to gender studies as a postgraduate student this autumn. She grew up in northern Italy and first tried on the feminist lens as an undergraduate student. She has not taken it off since, and manifests her convictions in articles, podcasts, daily debates, and marches.

Arshad Khan Bangash Arshad Khan Bangash is Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology, Education and Political Science at Bacha Khan University Charsadda, Pakistan. He completed his PhD, “Sociological Analysis of Honour Killing in Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan (FATA)” at the University of Peshawar. He has published various articles on honour killing in world-reputed journals, and presented research at national and international conferences.

Samahara Hernández Samahara Hernández currently works for the World Bank Group and has experience in women and gender studies, and global development. She is currently doing her Msc on Innovation for Development in the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education, and holds Bachelors degrees in International Relations and Development Studies. She has previously worked with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the Women’s Institute of Querétaro and Save the Children.

Aleida Pinelo Aleida Pinelo is a Doctoral Candidate at the Faculty of Law, University of Turku. She completed her Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy in Mexico City, before obtaining her Master’s degree in the Erasmus Mundus Master’s Program in Gender and Women’s Studies (GEMMA) at the University of Granada and the University of Utrecht. Aleida has been a contributor to Feminicidio. net since 2011.

Victoria Kiasyo Isika Victoria Kiasyo Isika is a PhD Sociology student at the University of Nottingham, focussing on women’s responses to heterosexual intimate partner violence (IPV) in Kenya. She previously helped design and manage studies on gend​er-based violence and women’s empowerment in Kenya, Rwanda and DRC, and has experience working with organizations such as Innovations for Poverty Action, Busara Center for Behavioral Economics, and Women for Women International.

Yvette Basson Yvette is a senior lecturer in the Law Faculty of the University of the Western Cape in South Africa. She has been researching the rights of persons with disabilities since 2011 and has recently shifted her research focus to the rights of women with disabilities. She lives in Cape Town with her husband and son, and her hobbies include wine tasting and reading about prominent female figures throughout history.

Sylwia Kowalczyk Sylwia Kowalczyk was born in Lublin Poland. She now lives in Scotland, in Edinburgh. Sylwia studied graphic design and photography at Krakow Academy of Fine Arts and the Edinburgh College of Art. Playful and sensual, her images include a surprising juxtaposition of interiors and landscapes with a fragile and transformative aspect of paper prints and of a human body. Objects get enlarged to the point of abstraction when she explores new ways of approaching a studio photography practice and fluctuates between photography and installation. Sylwia’s work has been recognised in awards such as Fresh Faced and Wild Eyed – the Photographers’s Gallery’s pick of the most promising graduates in UK, and reGeneration 2 as one of the most promising 80 young photographers in the world, an exhibition which is touring the world and published as a book by Thames and Hudson and Aperture Foundation. Her work was also recently featured in prestigious “The Decisive Moment: Contemporary Polish Photography Since 2000” by Adam Mazur and is included in numerous collections in Poland, US, South Africa, UK and South Korea. /www.sylwiakowalczyk.com @sylwia_kowalczyk_

Maria Garcia I’m Maria Garcia, a multidisciplinary designer and a visual artist in the making. When I’m not busy being a designer, I find myself fantasizing about being a dancer. That’s why it made sense for me to visually experiment with body movement.



Sejin Moon (b.1978, Korean-British) Sejin is a visual artist from Scotland and graduated from the Edinburgh College of Art in 2010 with an MFA in photography. Sejin’s body of work sets out a personal narrative and depicts her journey as a female in the modern world. Her art practice involves exploring and questioning herself regarding gender equality and cultural identity. Sejin’s work depicts a critical view of social and cultural agendas this includes memories of childhood to an ongoing struggle with the awareness and emotions of growing old. Having the perspective of living in two distinctively different but yet similar cultures, South Korea and the UK, allows Sejin to produce a collection of unique and refreshing images. Her works are mainly created using medium and large format film photography but also incorporates alternative photographic processes and media. www.sejinmoon.com @sejinmoon_photographer

soft orb soft orb is a graphic designer and illustrator from the Greater Philadelphia area in the States. She completed her MA in design in Edinburgh in 2018 and currently lives in Dublin with her wife. She creates dreamy, soft, pastel illustrations, and does graphic design work including logo creation, UX design, layout design, and more. Her work can be viewed online at softorb. space

Ramona Ilmer Ramona Ilmer is an aspiring female architect, currently completing her master’s degree in architecture at the University of Florence, Italy. The spaces she wants to design are based on ideals like inclusiveness and empathy, and goals such as sustainability and gender equality. Ever since she can remember, she has used drawing as a way of expressing herself. Later she also discovered printmaking and photography as creative channels, as well as, more recently, pottery.

Monika Alff Monika is a visual artist originally from Berlin. She has mostly been based in Scotland but travelled a lot. Monika has worked internationally in Germany, Spain, Cyprus and Canada. She loves colour and has a strong connection with the surreal and the semi abstract. Her collages and paintings are concerned with political/societal issues and also with spiritual/ philosophical ones. Monika hopes people are stimulated to see their own meanings and find their own stories in her work.

Marina Mche Marina Mche is a London based multidisciplinary artist. She graduated from Photography BA(Hons) at Edinburgh Napier University. Her work gained national and international recognition, having been exhibited in numerous galleries, including o.T. Projektraum in Berlin, Photofusion Gallery and Old Truman Brewery in London, Whitespace Gallery in Edinburgh, Ryerson Artspace in Toronto as well as a number of galleries in Zagreb and Rijeka, Croatia. During her studies she worked with Edinburgh Charity Fashion Show as an editorial photographer. She received a graduate photography prize from Millennium Images in London in 2017 for her project Beyond Norms and has participated in Magnum Photo Documentary and Photojournalism workshop at Speos Photography institute in Paris, France. She was invited to take part in two photography residencies - 2013 Verlassene Bauten/ Abandoned premises in Rijeka, Croatia and 2018 Feminist Photography Network in Toronto, CA and Edinburgh, Scotland. Most recently she started making experimental short films with an emphasis on gender identity and mental wellbeing.

Lois Langmead Lois is a Glasgow based artist researching subjects surrounding gender and the body. Lois previously studied for a BA (Hons) at Glasgow School of Art, where one of her degree show pieces went on to win the 2015 student Jerwood Drawing Prize. Lois has exhibited throughout the UK. She was awarded the Dewar Award and Coats Foundation Scholarships in order to study her Masters at the Royal College of Art where she graduated in 2020. Lois Langmead’s works address and reinterpret women’s historical narratives, constructions of identity and the body. Her practice moves between traditional drawing on paper and stitched textiles, articulating subjects from life, and depicting fragmented or distorted bodies which complicate the reading of the human form. Through her textile works, lines are sometimes freed from the surface, and drawings become objects that hint at familiar artifacts from the past turned inside-out. By engaging and subverting traditional, genteel techniques such as embroidery she transgresses conventional modes of femininity. A wide range of historical art and literary sources inform Lois’s practice as she questions issues surrounding gender roles and the social and political differences women experience in their lives.

Chez Negrete Chez is a photography artist specialized in portrait. She studied Visual Arts with a concentration on photography in the Autonomous University of Queretaro, Mexico. Her work contains a permanent idea: the unconscious and chronicle search of a generational identity through individual and collective gender aspects interpreted throughout the photographic portraits and her lenses as a meaning of a rhetoric mirror of what she observes. To find out more about her work, you can follow her on IG @cheznegrete and look out for her work on www. cheznegrete.com

Inês Pinto Inês Pinto has a degree in Cinema from the Theatre and Cinema College, specialising in Production. She has worked with several formats throughout her career, like photography, illustration, and video art. Her projects focus on self-discovery and the deconstruction of concepts such as the unconscious, spirituality, femininity, and ancestral magic. She currently works as a freelancer in digital illustration, under the name “Inês um dois três”.

Marta Nunes Marta was born in Lousada, Portugal, and could draw before she could talk. While studying for a degree in Architecture from the University of Beira Interior (Portugal), illustration became a part of Marta’s life, and she started to collaborate in different projects, like publications and individual and collective exhibitions. Illustration is always there as a moment of freedom from the busyness of her working life, and it is becoming her full-time passion.

Winnie Brook Young Winnie Brook Young is a Scottish filmmaker, photographer and artist based in Glasgow. She has worked as a cinematographer and collaborator with land artist Julie Brook in Aird Bheag on the west coast of Lewis. She has also worked as an editor’s assistant in Rio de Janeiro where she directed her first short film ‘Beleza’. Preferring to separate her filmmaking and her photography, you can find a collection of her 35mm black and white work on her website. Her recent collaboration with Glasgow based art collective A+E can be found on her vimeo. In 2020, she was the director of photography for the documentary “What it means to be” by Lea Luiz De Oliveira. She is currently developing new creative projects in the highlands of Scotland.

Merve Arslan Merve Arslan is a Doctoral Researcher, at the School of History, Department of Philosophy University of Sussex, in the United Kingdom. She graduated from the department of Philosophy with honor degree at Adnan Menderes University in Turkey, in 2010. Her graduation thesis was about Kant’s theory of citizenship in terms of woman. After graduation, she worked as a teacher on philosophy, sociology and psychology. In 2014, Merve applied and won the scholarship from the Turkish Ministry of National Education. Between 2016-2017, she studied her MA project on woman’s otherness and freedom in Simone de Beauvoir and Maurice Merleau-Ponty. Once receiving her MA degree, she started her PhD in September 2017. Currently, Merve’s research focuses on ‘Discursive Bodies and the Role of Unidentified Bodies in Feminist Thought’. Merve’s interest areas are generally about Body theories in the History of Philosophy, Feminist Philosophy, Gender and Power Relations, 20thcentury French Philosophy, Otherness and its social implications, and lastly Roman philosophy.

Issue 2 . MARCH 2022

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