Written by Amy Beecham
This one-day festival coming to London aims to get more people talking about sexual violence.
Gender equality charity Women of the World (WOW) is launching a one-day festival of activism that invites people from all generations, genders and backgrounds to partake in conversations around sexual violence.
Taking place at Battersea Arts Centre on 27 November, The Shameless! Festival, created in partnership with Birkbeck, University of London, hopes to give the public a safe space to discuss, educate and learn about all forms of sexual violence and eradicate the shame that is often attached to the issue.
A recent YouGov survey found that 4 out of 5 young women had experienced sexual harassment, and UN Women estimated that 1 in 3 women globally have been affected by sexual violence.
“The reason for the urgency of the event is that in the last few years, despite changes of law, much more attention and evidence of the epidemic nature of the sexual violence, it doesn’t seem to have changed the ability for sexual violence to be normalised inside societies,” WOW’s founder, Jude Kelly told Stylist.
“I believe we’re at a tipping point where people are prepared to discuss a subject which has traditionally been so cloaked with taboo. So it’s a positive moment as well as a critical one.”
The first-of-its-kind feminist event will bring together national, international and grassroots organisations and charities, as well as local artists, leading voices and wellness practitioners, to confront and change societal attitudes towards sexual violence by combining academic research, activism and art.
Speakers will include model Emily Ratajkowski, author Winnie M Li, founder of Black Minds, Rachel Nwokoro, writer Laura Bates, activist Payzee Mahmod, founder of Everyone’s Invited, Soma Sara and poet Tanaka Mhishi.
In conversation with Kelly, Ratajkowski will discuss her debut book My Body, an investigation into body politics and the fetishisation of women and girls.
“We want to get people to feel more informed about the things that happen and clearer about the action they can take to make change,” says Kelly. “We want it to be a festival that makes something that can feel frightening and difficult to talk about open and free, with people discussing sexual violence without shame or embarrassment. Because that’s the only way you move towards change in society.”
“This festival is an opportunity to explore the ways that art, poetry, literature, film, and other creative activities can help us understand and transcend sexual violence. I hope it will allow us to hear the voices of survivors and their allies in ways that will contribute towards creating a world without these forms of harm,” adds Professor Joanna Bourke, principal investigator of Birkbeck’s SHaME Project. “The event can and will be joyful as well as informative.”
Shameless! Festival will be held at Battersea Arts Centre on 27 November and tickets are on sale now.
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