We work with women, girls, and trans-women who have experienced unimaginable and unspeakable violence both physical and emotional. Â Our projects engage different communities of marginalized women to share personal experiences by telling their stories using various forms of media. The stories we hear are shocking, even more so, when told in passing or an after thought. Â During the process, we hear stories firsthand and candidly from young women about being raped by knifepoint, being controlled through emotional abuse, or forced to stay indoors to do housework while their brothers attend school. These forms of violence deteriorate our psyche, our physical well-being and keep us powerless.
How can we work together with these women, girls, and trans-women to take back their power? We listen carefully to what they have to say and recognize the importance of their words. The simple act of speaking even anonymously is cathartic. Through our radio shows, our participants confide to the listener about their fears, dreams, and concerns for their future. Â In our most recent radio show, âMeri Kahani Meri Zubaani: My story in my wordsâ we are listening to girls from the slums in New Delhi who confide in clear voices about the violence they endured by their own family members, in some cases by the hands of their own mothers.
Voices of Women Media hears these stories of violence long after it has happened. These stories are never forgotten by the one who has experienced it. The person inflicting the violence may often forget – through rationalization or justification of their actions, leaving their conscience clear. Telling their stories into a tangible form gives power back to the survivors of violence. She can speak and she can share her narrative through her own control and representation.They are able to become stronger, to fight harder, to see that past behind them and look forward.
To take back this power is to say no to gendered violence. To recognize our strength as women we must share with others what we have endured. Voices of Women Media uses media as a tool to facilitate the healing process and as a form of empowerment. By countering misrepresentation in the mainstream media and presenting alternative viewpoints, we are able to place a personal and humanized perspective of these women from marginalized communities. The more voices we can put out there, the more difficult it will be for policy makers and others with power to ignore what they hear. Voices of Women Media continues to fight for the day when violence against women is no longer acceptable.
This blog post has been written by Vivian Wenli Lin, Voices of Women Media’s co-director, for the campaign Week Without Violence. The campaign was initiated by Atria, the Institute for Gender Equality and Women’s History.