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The Pixel Project
It's Time To Stop Violence Against Women. Together.
It's Time To Stop Violence Against Women. Together.

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Last weekend at Wondercon 2013, I began work on a project I have wanted to do for some time now. As many of our readers may know, there has been escalating tension within the convention going community regarding the physical and emotional safety of cosplayers. Last week, cosplayer Meagan Marie spoke out against the people within the gaming industry who treat female cosplayers as pieces of meat, only there for the enjoyment of men. This, and the continued discussion within my circle of cosplay friends has pushed my plans forward, and I now present to you the beginnings of my photo essay, inspired by #IneedFeminismBecause; “ #CONsent: The Importance of Treating Cosplayers with Respect.

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Women facing street harassment are using Twitter to highlight the 'invisible' problem, says Laura Bates, founder of the Everyday Sexism Project which invited women to share their experiences of harassment on Twitter using the hashtag #ShoutingBack. Some 3,500 did so within the first five days.One of the male supporters of #ShoutingBack tweeted to other men: "We have the power to stop street harassment. Don't do it. Don't let other men do it."

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The same week that a leaked video out of Steubenville, Ohio showed high school boys joking and laughing about an unconscious teenager in the next room who had just been raped—“They raped her quicker than Mike Tyson!”—House Republicans let the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) expire. They opposed an expanded version of the legislation that had increased protections for the LGBT community, immigrants and Native American women.

This week we’ve also seen mass protests in India after a woman was brutally gang raped and died from her injuries. American media covering the Indian protests have repeatedly referenced the sexist culture, reporting how misogyny runs rampant in India. The majority of mainstream coverage of what happened in Steubenville (click here for a primer), however, has made no such connection. In fact, the frequent refrain in discussions of Steubenville in comment threads is that these boys are “sociopaths,” shameful anomalies. We’d rather think of them as monsters than hold ourselves accountable as a nation and tell the truth—these rapists are our sons.

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More than one in three men surveyed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo's war-torn east admits committing sexual assault, and three in four believe that a woman who "does not dress decently is asking to be raped", researchers have found.

Some 61.4% of men interviewed said women sometimes deserve to be beaten; 42.7% think that "if a woman doesn't show physical resistance when forced to have sex, it's not rape"; and 27.9% believe that sometimes women want to be raped.

Well over 40% of the men polled asserted that a man should reject his wife when she has been raped.

The findings show that sexual violence is much more than a weapon of war, activists said, and reflect widespread acceptance of patriarchal norms and rape myths. They also pointed to Congo's incendiary mix of conflict, poverty and weak law enforcement as causal factors in need of urgent redress.

The study was carried out by the South African-based Sonke Gender Justice Network and the Brazilian non-government organisation Promundo in and near Goma in Congo's North Kivu province. A total of 708 men and 754 women aged between 18 and 59 took part in individual interviews and focus group discussions in June this year.

For our final interview of 2012, we present 18-year-old anti-Female Genital Mutilation activist Muna Hassan. Muna belongs to a charity based in Bristol, UK, called Integrate Bristol. One of Integrate Bristol’s core campaigns is the eradication of FGM in the UK. An estimated 24,000 girls are at risk of FGM yet there has never been a conviction for perpetrating this crime. Muna has been working hard with her fellow activists to bring about change and get people talking about it.

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The woman, who has not been identified, has become a symbol for the treatment of women in India, where rape is common and conviction rates for the crime are low. She boarded a bus with a male friend after watching a movie at a mall, and was raped and attacked with an iron rod by the men, who the police later said had been drinking and were on a “joy ride.”

She died Saturday morning in Singapore, where she had been flown for treatment for the severe internal injuries caused by the assault. She had an infection in her lungs and abdomen, liver damage and a brain injury, the Singapore hospital said, and died from organ failure. Her body was flown back to India on Saturday.

As news of her death spread Saturday, India’s young, social-network-using population began to organize protests and candlelight vigils in places like the western city of Cochin in Kerala, the outsourcing hub of Bangalore and New Delhi, the capital. Just a tiny sliver of India’s population can afford a computer or has access to the Internet, but the young, educated subset of this group has become increasingly galvanized over the New Delhi rape case.

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The gang rape victim in India has died. May she rest in peace -- and may India now get serious on its pervasive sexual violence. India has more forced prostitution than any country in the world, so a starting point would be a crackdown on sex trafficking.

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If you are still doing last-minute Christmas gift-shopping for your family and friends, please consider downloading our "16 For 16" digital EP featuring 5 uplifting and empowering anti-Violence Against Women songs. The EP is priced from $4.95 - $6.25 depending on the online music store. 100% of the proceeds go towards our Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign.

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Trigger Warning: rape/death threats, harassment

Anita Sarkeesian at TEDxWomen 2012

Anita Sarkeesian discusses the online harassment she received when targeted by an online hate campaign. Thankfully, there is a happy ending: she received a lot of emotional and financial support, her project Tropes vs. Women in Video Games fully funded.

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Melissa Dohme is living proof that one can survivor and thrive after enduring horrific domestic violence when she earned her associate degree with a GPA over 3.9 from St Petersburg College and was named the Clearwater campus' student of the year. She is now ready to go to court to face the ex-boyfriend who nearly killed her and maimed her so badly doctors thought she'd never walk again without a cane. On a train ride between France and England, she wrote on her cell phone the words that she hopes to read at his sentencing. She thinks they'll surprise him. She calls it a "forgiveness speech."
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