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Brushstrokes of Resilience: Ba'aj's Creative Stand Confronting Violence Against Women

Date: December 26, 2023

Each year, organizations and communities worldwide unite in the #16 Days campaign—engaging in various activities like events, silent marches, and dramatized skits to raise awareness on violence. This year, our team in Ba'aj, Iraq, took a creative approach to encourage the community to express their experiences and feelings regarding violence against women.

Our staff provided art supplies, including paintbrushes, canvases, and acrylics, and extended an open invitation to community members to participate in a meaningful artistic endeavor.

Art possesses a unique ability to communicate powerful narratives when words fall short. The resulting paintings became a compelling expression of the community's collective voice.

These artworks were unveiled at the inauguration of a Women Peace Team, a significant event within the festival dedicated to ending violence against women. Approximately 1,000 attendees, including duty bearers, security forces, and community members, gathered to witness the powerful display of creativity and resilience.

The impact of these paintings was profound, leaving a lasting impression on those present. Art, as a form of expression, became a powerful tool in our collective efforts to address and eradicate gender-based violence.

“I feel like women are game in the hands of society.”

-Teenage schoolgirl, Ba’aj, Age 16

“Women are always silenced, and even exposed to violence, if they give their opinions or demand their rights. Community families always silence them."

-Girl from Ba’aj, Age 16
Title of Painting: Don't Violate Me

“The meaning behind the painting exemplifies that when a woman is abused and exposed to violence by her guardian or husband, it impacts her psyche. She begins to feel as though she is inside a prison cell. The woman is a victim in society where her freedom is controlled and restricted. As for the hand palm in the painting, it symbolizes the appeal to stop this violence. “

-Young woman from Ba’aj, Age 19

“If a woman speaks, she will be subjected to violence in all forms, so she cries silently and no one understands how she feels.”

-WPT Brother of a Women Peace Team (WPT) member, Age 22

“I saw violence and beatings against girls—it does not teach them anything; it only breaks them and harms their feelings.”

-Girl from Al-Ba’aj Secondary School, Age 14

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