THE SURVIVOR STORIES PROJECT, VAW

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THE SURVIVOR STORIES PROJECT: Christine Davis, 46, Germany and USA

The Pixel Project is proud to present the Survivor Stories Blog Interview Project in honour of Mother’s Day 2014. The project runs throughout the month of May 2014 and features an interview per day with a survivor of any form of violence against women (VAW) including domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, female genital mutilation, forced/child marriage, sex trafficking, breast ironing etc.

end-violence-against-womenA total of 31 VAW survivor stories will be featured.

This project was created to provide:

VAW survivors a platform to share their stories and solutions/ideas on how they rebuilt their lives and healed/are healing.
Girls and women currently experiencing or who have survived VAW ideas, hope, and inspiration to escape the violence and know that there is light at the tunnel and there is help out there.

This project is also part of a program of initiatives held throughout 2014 in support of the Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign that is in benefit of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and The Pixel Project. Donate at just US$1 per pixel to reveal the mystery Celebrity Male Role Models and help raise US$1 million for the cause while raising awareness about the important role men and boys play in ending violence against women in their communities worldwide. Donations begin at just US$10 and you can donate via the Pixel Reveal website here or the Pixel Reveal Razoo donation page here.

Our fifteenth Survivor Stories interview is with Christine Davis from Germany and the U.S.A.
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The Survivor Bio:

Christine-DavisI am a native of Germany, with a background in Hotel & Restaurant Management and have been in the United States since 1993. I am currently working full time at a Financial Institution. I am a survivor of domestic violence and to give back I serve on the Board of a non-profit organisation in charge of the shelter for victims of domestic violence in my county. I also serve on the NC Domestic Violence Fatality review team. To keep in touch with my German roots I am on the leadership team of the American Council on Germany. In my spare time I paint on silk, often donating a piece of art or a portion of the proceeds from sales of my artwork to the cause to end violence against women.

Christine Davis

1. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence?

I have experienced domestic violence at the hands of my ex-husband, in 1988-1989, shortly after my daughter was born.

2. How did you escape the violent situation/relationship/ritual?

I was extremely fortunate to have parents who supported me financially when I took action to leave my ex-husband. They helped me to escape by getting me a plane ticket to return home to Germany so I could begin the long process of rebuilding my life.

3. How did you heal and rebuild your life after the violent situation/relationship/ritual? What actions did you take?

21 years after escaping the abuse, I am still in the healing process. My healing actually began taking place while I was still in my abusive marriage – I had met someone else who showed me love. He cared about me and my daughter and he helped me see that I was not worthless.

One way in which I am rebuilding myself and my life is by helping other victims. I have now been a loud and outspoken advocate against violence against women for many years. Currently, I serve on the Board of Directors for anti-Violence Against Women organisations in my area such as Turning Point and Safe Alliance. I also use Art everyday to support other victims and to continue to heal myself.

4. What would you suggest to or share with another woman or girl facing the same situation as you did?

You are not alone. Don’t give up hope. Stay strong. Have a safety plan. Know where to get help. There will be people there to support you when you are ready to leave.

5. How do you think we can end violence against women?

We need to get ‘in front’ of the issue and I believe that education is the key to ending VAW. We need to teach children and young people what healthy relationships look like, and we need to start teaching them about this as early as middle school. We also need to teach parents and adult individuals to recognise the signs and to know how to take action to stop the violence.

We also need support from the ‘top down’ and this includes funding from major sponsors for awareness campaigns. Finally, we need to educate corporations about VAW and to get them to ensure that they have policies in place to support and protect victims and survivors.

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

I like The Pixel Project’s approach of taking the cause online through social media because conversations about VAW need to happen and these conversations need to evolve along with technology. By using the Internet and social media, The Pixel Project’s campaigns are accessible for women, men and kids around the globe. How cool would it be if my story could encourage a woman on the other side of the world to get out of an abusive relationship?

I also support The Pixel Project’s belief that VAW is not a women’s issue, and that any conversation about VAW needs to include men and boys. Both boys and girls need to understand what a healthy relationship looks like, and they may not get that at home. So we need to pull them out of the cycle and be the Village that teaches them about this. In addition, through their Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign, The Pixel Project has recognised that we need non-violent male celebrities to support the cause and model positive male behaviour because many boys look up to their favourite entertainers and athletes and are influenced by them.

 

The Beneficiaries
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

NCADV-logoartThe mission of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) is to organize for collective power by advancing transformative work, thinking and leadership of communities and individuals working to end the violence in our lives.

NCADV believes violence against women and children results from the use of force or threat to achieve and maintain control over others in intimate relationships, and from societal abuse of power and domination in the forms of sexism, racism, homophobia, classism, anti-Semitism, able-bodyism, ageism and other oppression.

NCADV recognizes that the abuses of power in society foster battering by perpetuating conditions, which condone violence against women and children.

Therefore, it is the mission of NCADV to work for major societal changes necessary to eliminate both personal and societal violence against all women and children. For more information, visit www.ncadv.org.

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The Pixel Project

Pixel-Project-ThumbnailThe Pixel Project works to end violence against women (VAW) worldwide by using the power of the internet, social media, new technologies, and popular culture/the Arts to engage the global community with the cause.

We strongly believe that men and women must take a stand together for the right of women and girls to live a life free of gender-based violence. We work to generate conversation by tearing down taboos and creating safe online spaces to generate discussion about VAW among both men and women. We also run virtual campaigns and projects that challenge expectations and inspire activism by getting the global community actively involved with the cause using social media, pop culture and the Arts.

Since our birth, we have become a ‘first step’ organization – offering people who are first-time supporters opportunities to help the cause in ways that make the most of their talents and professional skills. Our team of volunteers are spread across 4 continents, 12 time zones and over 15 cities worldwide.WallSupport

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Our partners include UN Women’s “Say NO – UNiTE” campaign, the White Ribbon Campaign, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Breakthrough/Bell Bajao, Microsoft, Razoo, and Thomson Reuters Foundation.

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Comments

  1. asma siddiqi says

    Sexual Harassment at SmithKline Beecham Pakistan

    By Asma Siddiqi
    When is sexual harassment at workplace not harassment? When the management thinks so! That seems to be the case as far as SmithKline Beecham; one of the largest
    multinational pharmaceutical companies is concerned. This is evident from the
    company’s unfair handling of my complaint of sexual harassment, against a male
    member of the higher management in its Pakistan office.

    As an employee of the company, I lodged a complaint of sexual harassment in 1996
    against my supervisor, Abdul Quadir Molvi who was the marketing services
    manager. He had been harassing me, and a couple of days before my annual
    performance appraisal had asked me to give him Rs. 30,000 (about US$ 750, which
    was more than my monthly salary) as a loan. I did not give him the money, which
    upset him.

    Quadir Molvi continued his disgusting behaviour, making lewd remarks, telling dirty jokes in my presence, invading my personal space and touching me unnecessarily. Several
    of my female colleagues told me that they had been suffering Molvi’s unwelcome
    sexual advances. One of them told me that she had asker for transfer from his
    department. I found that throughout the company, Molvi had the reputation of
    being a lecher.

    I reported the matter to his supervisor, Salman Burney, the then Marketing Director.
    Burney tried to laugh off the matter, and said he probably likes you! He then
    defended Molvi’s behaviour by ascribing it to his having been a ‘salesman’ and
    that such people were like that. He accused me of being over sensitive and said
    that the integrity of my supervisor could not be questioned, as he was a senior
    employee of the company and a family man with grown up daughters’. Needless to
    say, Burney did not take any steps to prevent Molvi from persisting in his
    usual vulgar fashion. In order to proceed further with my complaint I asked
    Human Resources to give me a copy of the company’s service rules and its policy
    on sexual harassment. I was told that they did not have any such thing nor was
    I entitled to ask for it.

    I persisted in my complaints and took up the matter with John Squires, the expatriate
    Managing Director of SmithKline Beecham at that time. Squires tried to prevent
    me from pursuing my complaint and adopted a threatening attitude, warning, if
    you don’t like him, why don’t you leave, in other words, if I wanted to work in
    the company, I should agree to be sexually harassed. I refused to give in and
    submitted a written complaint, putting the issue on record. Eventually, after
    much feet dragging, an enquiry was initiated into the matter and an all-male
    inquiry committee was set up, under the supervision of the Human resources
    Director.

    The standard practice of inducting a female member into committees investigating the highly sensitive issue of sexual harassment was ignored, thus bringing into question
    the very integrity of the committee.

    The lodging of a formal complaint another dimension to acts of intimidation by the
    management in an effort to keep the lid on the issue. The inquiry committee,
    instead of playing the role of an unbiased body, followed the lead of the
    management, and formalized the intimidation process. In this instance it led to
    defamatory remarks, threats and ridicule by the higher management to coerce me
    to take back the complaint. The management threatened me and labeled me a
    ‘troublemaker’ and ‘whistleblower’. The inquiry committee asked me and to give
    a list of witnesses, company employees who had suffered similar behavior from
    Quadir Molvi. Upon learning of their names, the management approached the would
    be witnesses and, using both intimidation and favors tried to dissuade them
    from testifying in support of my complaint. The management pressure was so
    great that two out of four of my witnesses changed their position. One of them
    withdrew her earlier written statement and the other, modified hers as per the
    direction of the top management. Three of my colleagues who had differences
    with me on various other issues were persuaded to speak out in support my
    supervisor. One ‘supporter’ Erum Shakir was the person who had transferred from
    Molvi’s department because of his sexual harassment. All three were rewarded
    with promotions and foreign trips at the companies expense soon after they gave
    statements, which satisfied management.

    The protracted proceedings continued in fits and starts, with no remedial action
    being taken against the accused. During the investigation, Molvi approached one
    of my witnesses and confessed his offense in the presence of another colleague
    and offered to apologize to me provided I withdrew my complaint, saying it was
    a misunderstanding. I refused. Not finding any protection from the Pakistan
    office of the company, I approached Damien Carpanini, Human Resources Director
    at SmithKline Beecham’s Head office in London UK. I told Carpanini that I was
    not satisfied with the manner in which the inquiry was conducted and wanted to
    discuss the matter with him. He refused, saying that he had full confidence in
    the Pakistan management and that discussing the matter with me would mean he
    was allowing me to influence the decision of the inquiry committee.

    The inquiry committee eventually cleared Quadir Molvi of all charges and I was asked to
    report to him as before. I protested that I felt unsafe working with him, as he
    had now grown even more indecent and aggressive. The Human Resources in London
    turned a deaf ear to my complaint and informed me that they were satisfied with
    the decision of the inquiry committee and were not interested in discussing the
    matter with me.

    In Karachi soon after the decision of the committee my supervisor began to call me to his
    room every ten to fifteen minutes. I suggested that he used the intercom phone
    for communication but he insisted I met him in person each time he called me.
    The marketing director told me that I would have to meet the supervisor
    whenever he called me in his office and would have to develop a one-on -one
    relationship with him otherwise, I could loose my job. I told him that I did
    not want to meet him whenever he called me to his office, as I was afraid of
    his indecent actions. My continued stand against, and refusals to give in to,
    the demands of the management earned me a two-line termination letter. No
    reasons for termination were given. However, the Human Resources Department
    told me verbally that in view of my aforementioned meeting with Salman Burney
    in which I had refused to meet Quadir Molvi my services were being terminated
    instantly. No written warning or notice was given in contradiction of company policy.
    Human resources also warned that if I did not meet my supervisor before I left,
    I would lose the salary due to me. I refused to meet the supervisor.

    I was told that after my dismissal the Marketing Director told his collogues that he had
    to fire me because I was mad. One of my supervisor’s witnesses went to the
    extent of contracting my former journalist collogues in Karachi and tried to
    defame me.

    I suffered tremendously during and after the ordeal but have no intension of giving up. My
    experience shoes why incidents of sexual harassment are not reported. The
    threat of ridicule, intimidation and termination is used in keeping women from
    coming forward. Those who do, pay dearly, not only in terms of career loss but
    also emotional trauma and stress.

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