A Blog by ARDD-Legal Aid Intern, Kendall Bousquet
As a student intern with the VOICE Project at ARDD, my usual duties consist of odd jobs around the office like working on lesson plans for refugee training sessions and compiling media reports for the week. However, this past week we’ve been gearing up for our campaign against gender-based violence as part of the global 16 Days of Activism to raise awareness for issues surrounding violence. I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of the brainstorming and preparation process for the VOICE Project’s 2013 campaign, which will focus primarily on providing education through art workshops and legal awareness sessions with Syrian women living in refugee camps and communities in Jordan, as well as Jordanian women living in host communities.
Lots of ideas were brought up in our brainstorming sessions, ranging from targeting the concepts of masculinity in abuse to the role that the cycle of abuse plays in domestic violence. Ultimately, we chose to focus our message on giving women the information necessary to identify violence in its many forms, namely physical, sexual, emotional, and economic. Unfortunately, in discussions regarding violence against women there tends to be emphasis only on the physical aspects of violence, when the sad truth is that violence often manifests itself in ways that aren’t quite so visible. It is a shameful reality that as long as you know any women, it is a practical guarantee that you know someone who has suffered from one of these forms of violence.
During a brainstorming session, I remarked that it is a mistake that we don’t start telling girls and boys from a young age that just because you are not being physically hurt by those close to you does not necessarily mean you are not being subject to abuse. There was a consensus that we should focus our attention on providing girls and women with clear definitions of abuse so that they will be able to identify it, and educate others. Thus, the “Unmask Violence” campaign was born.
We will be working with Syrian and Jordanian women from different parts of the country, and we are working hard for our workshops to be as effective and educational as possible, while providing women a safe space to discuss issues of violence and abuse in their communities. In the future we are looking to do workshops with men and boys regarding these very issues, addressing the importance of respect for women and girls in building healthy homes and communities. In the mean time, we are extremely excited for the official launch of our campaign on November 25th!