It’s Your Fault

We have all heard the gruesome stories of rape that came out of India in the past months, starting with the “bus” case of last December which became so well-known that it even has its own Wikipedia entry. All India Bakchod (AIB), an Indian (all men!) comedy collective had enough of that “every sexual assault case in India inspires a string of stupid and hateful remarks against women.” They decided to do something about this which resulted in a satirical response video that discusses victim blaming from a non-PC perspective. Food for thought.

WHO report highlights violence against women as a ‘global health problem of epidemic proportions’

A report came out today from the Wold Health Organization on violence against women and asserts that “physical or sexual violence is a public health problem that affects more than one third of all women globally.”

Let me just quote a few of the shocking numbers:

  • Globally, 38% of all women who were murdered were murdered by their intimate partners, and 42% of women who have experienced physical or sexual violence at the hands of a partner had experienced injuries as a result.
  • Women who have experienced partner violence are almost twice as likely to experience depression compared to women who have not experienced any violence. (Same number for women to have alcohol-use problems.)
  • Women who experience physical and/or sexual partner violence are
    • 1.5 times more likely to acquire syphilis infection, chlamydia, or gonorrhea. In some regions this applies to HIV.
    • twice as likely to have an abortion than women who do not experience this violence.

In the report WHO has identified the key elements of a health sector response to violence against women which result in the following recommendations:

  • Women centered care
  • Identification and care for survivors of intimate  partner violence
  • Clinical care for survivors of sexual violence
  • Training of health-care providers on intimate partner violence and sexual violence
  • Health-care policy and provision
  • Mandatory reporting of intimate partner violence


Click on the image for the full infographic and for the detailed explanation of the recommendations.


Shoes and boobs

I am pretty sure Converse knows the answer to what the links is between shoes for men and female breasts… How sad from a brand that otherwise desperately tries to project the image of being hip. This is all you got??? Total lack of creativity. (By the way, while we are at it, why does she even need to wear panties? Hypocrites.)

Notbuyingit – a hashtag, an app, a movement

After the mobile app against street harassment, here is the next one: this time against sexism in the media. Based on the idea that the consumer makes the ultimate choice in our society by voting with her money, believes we have the right and opportunity to talk back and influence the media we buy. Can we teach the media a lesson and demand a change in how women are represented? Can we together put pressure on certain companies and make them produce different ads? And if at all, will a mobile app help in this?

The NotBuyingIt app is a project initiated by the people behind Missrepresentation who are are partnering with body image experts at to create a mobile app to fight sexist and damaging media and celebrate the positive. It is asserted that 3 out of 4 teen girls feel depressed, guilty and shameful after spending just 3 minutes looking through a fashion magazine. (These seem to be the US stats – but surely cannot be far from the European ones. If we have stats on this at all.)

So how did this idea came about? During the 2013 Super Bowl (the most watched and tweeted about media event of the year in the United Stated) the #NotBuyingIt hashtag was used by thousands and it became a trending topic on Twitter.

For the skeptics, here are some of the past successes from the MissRepresentation website this hashtag has had on Twitter:

  • Pressured to remove a line of t-shirts promoting rape in under 24 hours
  • Forced America’s leading Halloween costume seller to change how it markets girls’ costumes
  • Pressured a solar company to rescind a sexist ad campaign and delete their Facebook page
  • Helped get Hallmark to remove a sexist greeting card in under 24 hours
  • Helped get two children’s books that promoted gender stereotypes removed from the shelves of Harrod’s in London in under 24 hours

So how will the app work? “Using GPS technology we will pinpoint where the worst advertising is coming from and which communities are most active in fighting back. You’ll have the ability to document all the billboards and posters impacting your local community, putting pressure on brands and local officials to respond. Our scoreboard will keep track of progress in real time, ranking which products are deemed most sexist by the community and which ones we support.”

MissRepresentation has launched a campaign on Indiegogo, where you have 7 days left (till April 28) to contribute to the making of the app. Doubtful? Here is a quick motivational video 🙂

An oldie but goldie

A few years ago, when I was working for a television company that had many niche channels in its portfolio (among them a cooking channel), we received an invitation to the “grand opening” of a new candy shop/ patisserie in downtown Budapest because we featured their cakes previously in one of our shows.

O p e n i n g  party. I did not find it funny then, and I don’t find it funny now – I have found it quite offensive in fact. #notbuyingit, Sugar Shop.


(I will discuss the hashtag in another post in detail, but here is more info from the Missrepresentation website: “People worldwide are using hashtag #NotBuyingIt to call-out sexism in the media. Let the media know: sexism won’t sell. Use #NotBuyingIt on Twitter to challenge the misrepresentation of women and girls.”)


I can’t remember anymore when it was when I first heard about FGM or female genital mutilation. It must have been rather late, in my early 20s, at university (on my side of the world this was one of the miseries that women did not have to endure). What I clearly remember, however, is what shaped my thinking about it. After reading The Color Purple I became fascinated with Alice Walker. So I started reading her books one by one, and I soon got to Possessing the Secret of Joy. I was amazed, shocked and appalled by Tashi’s story, who undergoes this dreadful ritual as an adult and then tries to get on with her life in America. Walker broke taboos and at the same time raised awareness of this practice in the Western world when she wrote the book in 1992.

A few years ago I moved to a part of Europe where the number of immigrants is quite high from Northern Africa, and from French-speaking countries of Africa. I also work in an environment where most of my coworkers have lived  in developing countries for decades and worked on missions trying to “make the world a better place.” Many of them are doctors and many volunteer for various NGOs in their free time, so I have become much more closely exposed to this issue. One of them very actively took part in the European Campaign of Amnesty International to End FGM (as the immigrants from these countries bring their culture with them, there are about 180,000 girls at risk in Europe of undergoing FGM. Worldwide, 3 million girls undergo FGM every year.) Recently I took a class on Gender, Diversity and Politics at a Brussels university and some people argued there that if we want to fully respect and protect multiculturalism, then we should not intervene and advocate for the end of FGM. We should let people do things according to rules of their own culture. I disagree in this case, strongly. I tend to agree more with Alice Walker (and my colleagues): “Torture is not culture.”

This was only an intro to a video I stumbled upon on TED recently. It is a must see. The speaker, Kakenya Ntaiya made a deal with her father: She would undergo the traditional Maasai rite of passage of female circumcision if he would let her go to high school. Now she is changing the destiny of girls in her village by having built a school for them.