Joining the dots

The Child and Woman Abuse Studies Unit are set to host international webinar series on violence against women.

Date: 6 May 2022

Following the success of last year’s international webinar series ‘Joining the Dots: International Conversations on Violence Against Women’, Purna Sen, Visiting Professor with CWASU, is preparing to hold series two in autumn 2022.

The 2021 series brought together experts, activists, academics and victim-survivors from across the globe to explore the ways work on violence against women and girls (VAWG) is connected and to learn from commonalities as well as recognise differences and complexities. Over 13 inspirational and prominent speakers from across the globe including, India, Pakistan, South Africa, Australia, the US and Europe, were joined by international audiences over six sessions.

Bookended by an introductory and reflective session with Prof Cynthia Enloe (U.S) and women’s rights activist and lawyer Vrinda Grover (India) the series went on to explore four themes across ten weeks. 

The first, Silencing vs Listening, convened Ashif Shaik organiser of the Dignity March in India where 5,000 women marched across 24 states covering 10,000 km in 65 days, to shift shame from victim-survivors of sexual violence; Sibs Mthembu, the organiser of the Total Shut Down movement in South Africa, where women marched to put pressure on the government to address gender-based violence, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar. The three reinforced the power of political activism in breaking silences and June Oscar challenged us to set up a different approach to our work, by highlighting Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islanders survival history over 65,000 years based on principles of deep listening and care.  

The second theme of the series, Protecting Abusers opened up a whole new world to many participants, by exploring the role of and complicity in abuse of organisations that claim to be values-based and advocates of equality. Speakers included: Priyanka Chirimar (Singapore) – Action against prohibited conduct – on diplomatic immunity; Mickey Meiji (South Africa) – protection of buyers in the sex industry; Beatrice Lindstrom (USA re Haiti)– failure of accountability for sexual exploitation by peacekeepers/humanitarian workers and Indai Sajor – Asian Centre for Women’s Human Rights (Philippines). Discussions revealed the many ways in which those who abuse can rely on systems that value them above those who are harmed and that allow (and support) them to escape accountability. 

Cyberspace and New Technology the third thematic session saw Nighat Dad of the Digital Rights Foundation and Nabila Nasir who established an app to connect victim-survivors of abuse (Nanshe), urge us to think about cyberspace not just as a place of potential and actual abuse for women but crucially as a place where we have digital rights and meaningful connections. This session also reminded us that much work in this area has been led by activists in the global south. 

The final thematic session MeToo – Global Connections and a Movement Against Sexual Harassment, brought together  Anni Hirvela (Brussels) – #MeToo European Parliament; Anna Arganashvili (Georgia) – MeToo activist, Virginia Ossana from Women Enabled International and Ronelle King founder and director of Life in Leggings, Caribbean Alliance Against Gender Based Violence. This session brought powerful learnings about intersectional experiences of harassment, global continuities in men’s abusive practices but also divergence in responses and the complexities that shape whose voices are heard. 

Series two aims to bring as global and diverse a mix of speakers and to be rich in line up, with sessions on disability, human rights, femicide and armed conflict. The full line up will be announced in the summer.  Before then we are asking activists, practitioners, academics and victim-survivors if they have suggestions or requests of topics, they would like us to address and speakers from whom they would like to hear. If you have suggestions for what you would like series two to cover you can feed in here. We will try to be responsive to your suggestions!

Information about the second series will be shared on Twitter at: @CWASULonMet, @Purna_Sen and via email for those who share their contact details. We look forward to continuing the conversation this autumn.

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