How do we protect the children whose images are used in our publicity?
ActionAid takes child protection very seriously and this includes ensuring that all the girls we photograph and video for our appeals are supported in telling their story, so it is safe for them, they have emotional support and they fully understand how their story will be used.
For people under the age of 18, we also always gather the consent of a parent or guardian. In addition to gathering our content with strict levels of informed consent, we also anonymise images to protect survivors of violence. This includes changing their names and removing any indications to their geographical location, such as identifying landmarks and photo metadata. In some of our appeals we also use child actresses.
ActionAid does not pay people to share their stories. After open and respectful discussions with our local staff, people volunteer because they want to raise awareness of an issue, share their experience with others and/or have their voice heard. As a charity committed to helping people take control of their own future, we share the truth about situations and show real people in real situations. Wherever possible we let people tell their own stories in their own words and emphasise individuality and real-life experience.
Why have we used the stories of young girls who have survived sexual violence in our fundraising campaign?
We want to ensure that we are authentic in our campaigns and therefore work alongside women and girls in the world’s poorest places to ensure they can share their stories, so their voices are heard loud and clear across our communications.
However, we are also mindful of the risks and personal trauma that many of these women and girls are dealing with. We work hard to tell these stories in a way that helps – and doesn’t harm – the women and girls we work with.
We ensure that the people who feature in our campaigns and tell their stories have volunteered to do so, we never feature a person in our campaigns who doesn’t want to tell their story, and we never push anyone to talk about her situation in a way that makes her uncomfortable. Finally, we use strict guidelines to protect the identity of the women, girls and families we work with whenever this is needed.
What work are you doing to help boys too?
Any form of violence is unacceptable, and ActionAid recognises that men and boys also experience abuses of their rights, including sexual and domestic violence. But everywhere, violence is overwhelmingly perpetrated by men against women, making it one of the most widespread abuses of human rights worldwide.
Men and boys are part of the solution. To end violence against women and girls, men and boys must be involved in changing attitudes and behaviour in families and communities. And because men dominate positions of power and decision-making roles, they are important allies in the fight against it.
ActionAid works with women’s rights organisations, local leaders, men and boys and the media to shift social attitudes and behaviours. We train the police to handle rape cases sensitively and raise awareness in schools, colleges and communities – so that people know violence is unacceptable.
I/someone I know is being abused and needs support and help in the UK
Anyone in the UK can call the freephone 24-hour National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247, which is run in partnership between Women’s Aid and Refuge.
If you’ve been affected by crime and you need support or information, you can call Victim Support on 0808 1689 111 Monday to Friday 8pm– 8am or 24/7 Saturday and Sunday (free to callers in England and Wales). You can dial 141 to hide your number but check with your network provider as this doesn’t work on some mobile networks.
For supporters in Northern Ireland please call the 24-hour Domestic and Sexual Violence Helpline on 0808 802 1414 for initial support.
For supporters in Scotland, please refer to the Women’s support project directory.
As a wealthy country with its own resources, why is ActionAid supporting work in India?
In many countries in the global south, the unequal distribution of wealth and resources means that a large proportion of the population is poor and vulnerable. In India, a third of the population lives below the poverty line. Discrimination against women and girls is widespread; women living in the poorest areas of India have almost no access to finance, land and inheritance rights.
Women in India also face extremely high levels of sexual violence. One rape is reported every 15 minutes on average and countless more are committed, as shown by the India National Crime Record Bureau statistics. We feel that it would be unacceptable not to support women and girls living in India.
ActionAid aims to help the most excluded people (typically, women and girls) access the government services they are entitled to, such as education, health and food. We put pressure on local governments to use their resources to help the poor and tackle poverty. Governments need to be accountable to their people, and so we also work alongside partner organisations that are pushing their government to recognise the issue of corruption and take effective action.
In India, the Guaravi One-Stop Crisis Centre that ActionAid established in 2014 is run in collaboration with civil society and government. Building on the success of this crisis centre, we plan to reach out to 11 more centres in Madhya Pradesh in the coming years, training more workers and volunteers to help survivors of sexual violence get access to justice.
What about focusing on the perpetrators of violence, and preventing violence from happening?
ActionAid works with communities and law enforcers to help them spot the signs of abuse, report violence and ensure that perpetrators are prosecuted.
We help women and girls get access to justice, supporting them through every stage of the legal process. We campaign to change laws, and train paralegals and police officers to deal with sexual violence cases sensitively and effectively.
As well as supporting survivors, our local outreach workers are changing attitudes and challenging stigmas to prevent violence against women and girls in the first place.
How will donations be spent? How will money make a difference?
For every pound donated to ActionAid, 85 pence will go directly toward our work tackling poverty and ending violence against women and girls. The projects featured in our Christmas appeal are just some examples of ActionAid’s work. Your donation may not go directly towards these projects, but it will be used where it is needed most to further ActionAid’s general charitable purposes.
Your donations to our Christmas appeal could help run an ActionAid crisis centre such as Guaravi, where girls can receive medical, emotional and legal support to help recover from abuse.
ActionAid has supported 18 of these one-stop crisis centres across India and we are planning to reach out to 11 more, with capacity building, establishing standard operating procedures and providing referral support.
- £10 a month could help give a girl a secure place to sleep where she can feel safe, when going back home is too dangerous.
- £7 a month could help pay a counsellor’s salary to give emotional and psychological support to survivors who are recovering from trauma.
- £3 a month could help provide care packages including underwear, sanitary towels and a toothbrush, for girls who have had to leave their homes with nothing.