Painting Against Gender Based Violence

Mercy Hands alliance (Mercy Hands and the sister organizations: Mercy Hands Europe, 7th Sense Foundation for Media and Culture, and Lawyers for Women Center) is proud to participate in the United Nations' 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence. From 25 November to 10 December, Mercy Hands alliance will be drawing attention to violence against women in Iraq.


In November 30, Mercy Hands alliance organized a painting workshop in Baghdad for a diverse group of women rights activists and GBV survivors. In our programs we have used group painting as a means of self-expression and communication for GBV survivors.


Participants of the painting workshop in Baghdad

The workshop was led by a professional Iraqi artist and activist, Ms. Roula AJ. Ms. Roula taught the participants the basics of painting and then worked with each one of them to paint her life experience and express her feelings about violence against women and girls in her painting.


The professional Iraqi artist, Ms. Roula AJ, giving painting lessons to the participants

All participants were very excited about painting, in spite of their basic painting skills. Whether they had a personal experience with violence or not, they all used the crayons and paper to express their thoughts about violence against women and girls and to say no to it. Here is some samples of their artwork:


The artwork of the participants will be displayed in an exhibit during a similar yet bigger all art event organized for the same purpose by Mercy Hands alliance next week in Baghdad.


It was amazing to see how the participants were opening up and sharing with each other their personal GBV experiences as they were painting. Strong bonds of sisterhood and support were developing in front of our eyes as the participants talked about their traumas or the traumas of women that they knew.


The professional artist consoling a GBV survivor who could not control her emotions as she was opening up about her trauma
The professional artist consoling a GBV survivor who could not control her emotions as she was opening up about her trauma

During the workshop, the staff of 7th Sense Foundation gave a lecture on the role of media and art in fighting violence against women, and the 16 Days of Activism Campaign. Also during the workshop the staff of the Lawyers for Women gave a lecture on the legal rights of GBV victims and protection resources available for them.

Staff of 7th Sense Foundation giving a lecture about UN's 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence
Staff of 7th Sense Foundation giving a lecture about UN's 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence