Once upon a time, a princess falls in love with her prince and thinks she’ll live happily ever after. When they get married, she never imagines her prince will one day hit or beat her for not having his lunch ready on time. He would later apologise and promise he will never do it again and she, with a bruised face, accepts, only for the same thing to occur all over again. This is one advertisement the Speak Up Campaign produced to raise awareness and support women to stand against violence.
The TV ad features the story as a fairytale about a Cinderella, who never imagined her life would turn out that way. The ad is part of a series for a campaign initiated by UN Women and Egypt’s National Council for Women.
The campaign also includes billboards about domestic violence and sexual harassment. It aims to raise the awareness of women against all forms of violence they might face throughout their lives.
“Verbal and physical sexual violence are what many women face in Egypt,” one campaign designer, Marwan Younis, said. “However, tackling such topics is very sensitive in a society like ours”.
“Before we launched the campaign, we conducted many studies on domestic violence and were surprised to learn that most women who experienced it decided to go on with their lives with their husbands without getting a divorce,” he said.
Those women believed patience, silence, and staying close to their partners would solve their problems, but the campaign hopes to show them that is not what will happen in reality. “No matter how hard we try to change the beliefs of our society, this campaign is one step from millions of others that require the support of other organisations,” he said.
Another initiative was launched by makeup artist Shorouk El-Kasaby. Her usual work includes doing make-up for brides and sometimes girls on their prom nights; she helps women look their best in preparation for one of the most important nights of their lives.
However, behind the glamour and closed doors, many things are often left unspoken. As a makeup artist and as a woman, El-Kasaby heard countless stories from women who suffer extreme domestic violence that threatens many of their lives.
The makeup artist joined forces with blogger Rana Khalil and they both launched a campaign called A Drop of Hope to support Egyptian women.
Their campaign stands for women across the country, raising awareness on domestic violence and encouraging them to stand up for their rights. A Drop of Hope is also part of an international 16-day campaign that fights violence against women.
The duo hoped to highlight the issue and encourage women to speak up, and they were quite positive that to reach that goal, they needed a new method, away from the typical seminars and talks. As such, decided to use photography as their key method.
Their campaign was divided into three parts; domestic violence, rape, and sexual harassment. Their photo shoot also included three different photos, in correspondence with the campaign’s diverse ideas.
The first photo featured a woman who has an abusive husband, the second photo showcased a bride holding an orange bouquet, in reference to the UN, and the third photo is about violent sexual relations between spouses. According to the UN’s latest report, many local women suffer diverse forms of aggressive relations, and yet fail to stand up for their rights and speak up.
All dresses used in the photo shoot were courtesy of international fashion designer Zuhair Murad and El-Kasaby’s makeup expertise to express the idea and narrate diverse scenarios.
The campaign has been attracting lots of positive comments and many social media users shared the photos, while a number of official associations have showed great support.