BEE volunteer Ellie Ratter said the group picked the hashtag #WisToo in solidarity with the survivors who shared their stories as part of fellow BEE member Rhea Isbister’s project earlier this year. They picked Saturday 5th December because this is International Volunteer’s Day.
Ellie said: “I want to draw attention to gender-based violence because I believe it’s not discussed enough. This creates stigma and makes it harder for survivors of GBV to be able to talk about it or report it.”
Gender-based violence refers to acts that are perpetrated against a person’s will and that are rooted in rigid gender norms and gender inequality. It can be physical, emotional, psychological, or sexual in nature. It includes threat and coercion, and can also take the form of a denial of resources or access to services. It inflicts harm on people of all genders and hurts human development.
In addition, the group has had #WisToo facemasks printed and are asking people to take selfies with these on and post them with the hashtags #WisToo #16Days and #ShetlandRapeCrisis on 5th December. Masks can be picked up from Mareel from 18th Nov or on the walk day at Clickimin Broch.
For those unable to wear facemasks, they have also released a digital image which you can hold over the bottom half of your face using your phone and have someone else take your photo for sharing.
The imagery of the masks and the selfies is symbolic of how survivors of GBV are quite often silenced or their voices not heard, but also that these experiences are common and there is great power in many people standing together in solidarity against discrimination.
Ellie added: “I hope people will learn more about GBV, along with facts about the 16 days, in order to encourage more discussion and reduce the stigma around it.”
The campaign is also inspired by the work done by both Mae Jamieson and Shetland Staands Wi Black Lives Matter. Mae has now also joined BEE to help advise on the event.
As with the BLM walk, the volunteers will be situated at the Bus Stop area near Clickimin Broch from 10am-1pm on Saturday 5th December where masks and hand sanitizer will be provided.
Homemade signs, dogs, and discussion are welcome, but the group wants to emphasise that people must make sure to follow the most up-to-date covid-19 guidance and not meet in groups larger than is advised nor with more households than is advised.
Should covid-19 or weather prevents the walk from taking place, the social media takeover will still go ahead.
Lavinia Schmidt, Activism & Prevention Worker at Shetland Rape Crisis, said: “The members of BEE are a dynamic group of young people and we have been hard at work planning this event for a number of months now. We would like to say a huge thank you to the young volunteers and also our incredible sponsors Lou Jackson Design and Artmachine for making this all possible. It would be fantastic to see a lot of people taking part and standing up to gender-based violence in Shetland.”
In addition, as they do every year, the charity will be running a number of other awareness raising events throughout the 16 Days. These include: lighting up the Town Hall and Mareel orange, a window display at Market House, and taking part in a wider social media campaign across the Highlands and Islands called #ChangeHerStory.
#ChangeHerStory is a campaign across the Highlands and Islands where a number of organisations have joined forces to share stories and resources about gender-based violence and how it affects rural communities in Scotland.
If you have been affected by any of the issues highlighted by this campaign, there is help available.
Shetland Rape Crisis: 01595 747 174 / [email protected]
Rape Crisis Scotland Helpline: 08088 01 03 02 (6pm-midnight)
Shetland Women’s Aid: 01595 692070
Trauma Counselling Line Scotland: 08088 02 04 06 / [email protected]