Why you might start seeing this profile picture on Facebook a lot more

Bethan McKernan@mck_beth
Tuesday 09 June 2015 19:40

Iceland is not a country backwards about coming forwards when it comes to gender equality, consistently ranking as the best place in the world to be a woman. But a new campaign shows there's still work to be done.

A new social media initiative is tackling the silence and stigma around sexual violence and abuse with a simple but effective visual cue: women across the country are changing their pictures on social media pages to one of the above two images to show how widespread the problem of sexual violence is.

The orange picture shows that you have experienced sexual violence yourself, and the yellow one means that you personally know and support victims of sexual harassment and assault. Some people are even using one half of both images put together.

The initiative originally came from a post in a Facebook group called Beauty Tips, a forum dedicated to health and cosmetics advice. When one woman asked the group whether any of them had ever experienced sexual violence, hundreds of women spoke up.

The campaign spread quickly using the hashtags:#konurtala (“women speak”) #þöggun (“silenced”) and in English, #outloud as hundreds of women have started sharing their stories:

The striking images have already been noticed outside Iceland and writer Andrea Eyland Sóleyjar og Björgvinsdóttir told Icelandic media she hopes the idea will go global.

“I think this is the beginning of a revolution,” she added.

Reading these stories encourages other women to come forward and tell their story. They have to know they have nothing to be ashamed about. We need to tear down the wall of silence, which serves no purpose but to defend perpetrators of sexual violence.

Watch this space.

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