"I told them, I told them that they deserve to be treated with dignity and respect and I told them that they should disregard anyone who demeans or devalues them.
They should make their voices heard in the world.
The measure of any society is how it treats its women and girls."
[No man is big enough for my arms. Ibeyi, Ash, 2017]
In 2013 the World Health Organization, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and the South African Medical Research Council presented the first global systematic review and synthesis of the body of scientific data. The striking findings evidenced how intimate partner violence is a major contributor to women’s mental health problems, particularly depression and suicidality, as well as sexual and reproductive health problems, including maternal health and neonatal health problems. Globally 35.6% of women have experienced either intimate partner violence and/or non-partner sexual violence. Nearly one-third of ever-partnered women (30.0%) have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner, and 7.2% of adult women have experienced sexual violence by a non-partner. Some women have experienced both. As many as 38% of all murders of women are reported as being committed by intimate partners. The findings confirm the fact that intimate partner violence and non-partner sexual violence are widespread and affect women throughout the world.
Despite this evidence, many still choose to view the violent experiences of women as disconnected events, taking place in the private sphere of relationship conflict and beyond the realm of policy-makers and healthcare providers. Others blame the women themselves for being subjected to violence, rather than the perpetrators. In the case of non-partner sexual violence, women are blamed for deviating from accepted social roles, for being in the wrong place, or for wearing the wrong clothes. In the case of partner violence, women are blamed for talking to another man, refusing sexual intercourse, not asking permission from their partner (e.g., for going out, visiting their family), or for not conforming to their role as wives/ partners in some other way.
The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated an already horrifying surge in domestic violence, because of the lockdowns and repetitive quarantines. Since March 2020 domestic violence has become a major concern for women and children’s safety. There is an urgent need to scale up efforts across a range of sectors, to prevent violence from happening in the first place and to provide awareness of this violation of human rights.
Art, as a medium, has the power of translating human emotions into a product that can be experienced by everyone, and therefore it is a powerful instrument to raise awareness of violence against women. Around the double meaning of The power of the other hand, we are organizing a series of events oriented to promote social justice and raise awareness of the condition of oppression, violence, and fear experienced by many victims of domestic violence. The title of the exhibition is meant as the power of the hand that reacts to violence and starts painting to scream at the world how painful that punch was, the hand that calls the police and reports the violence, the hand that gets raised and says STOP the cycle of violence.
To spread our message on this theme we conceived a traveling art exhibition in many steps that will be realized in 2022-23. The events will combine the exhibition with discussions and talks from experts on the theme of domestic violence (e.g., experts in PTSD, trauma, law, etc.).
The target audience of the events will be the local community, the art community of each city, university, and art students as well as donors and potential sponsors who are interested in buying the art and funding The power of the other hand Project.
Each step of the exhibition will explore different nuances of domestic violence. The first exhibition will be held in San Antonio TX, and will address the theme of “family and violence”.
Family is often the scenario of domestic violence, where the supposedly safe walls of a home transform into a labyrinth from which it is difficult to escape. The representation of “home” we propose dispels the concept of family as a safe place to make people aware of the harsh reality that, very often, many women are forced to live in a safe family unit.
The other stages of the exhibition will address other nuances of the broader theme of violence.