Out Of Print and On Your Chest

They say ‘Never judge a book by its cover’ but if you’re up for allowing others to judge you by sporting a book cover across your chest, then these tees, from Out Of Print clothing, are just what you’ve been looking for!

There’s just something about old book covers that, upon seeing them, transforms me into an old grouch – wailing “They just don’t make ‘em like they used to in the good ol’ days!” But this iconic collection is testament to this truth; No ‘Richard and Judy Book Club‘ stickers here! Just gorgeous hand-rendered type, blocky prints, and bold, Bauhaus sensibilities.

So, the vintage designs are striking and the books are complete classics…. but, if you needed any more persuading to wear your literary leanings with pride, then how about the fact that Out of Print are working in partnership with Books For Africa? For every tee that they sell, one book is donated to a community in need. Good books, good design, good cause… it all adds up to ensuring that you’ll be judged positively when you wear one of these tees!

Shop here, or donate to Books For Africa here. All images from Out of Print.

By: Sarah Barnes, 25.08.2010 | Comments (0)
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Stop Sex Trafficking with The Body Shop

I’m all for incorporating a good cause into my beauty routine, which I was able to do this week with The Body Shop’s new campaign to stop the sex trafficking of children and young people. The campaign web page feature some shocking trafficking statistics, as are detailed on the above advertisement. There are more slaves today than ever before in human history, and tragically, the majority of human trafficking is for sexual purposes.

1.8 million children embroiled in this inhumane industry are too many to be ignored. And so, a long standing pioneer in the fight against many social injustices, The Body Shop have launched their new campaign (in collaboration with ECPAT UK) in order to bring government attention to the need for a guardianship system for trafficking victims. As is detailed on their website, this would mean that all child victims of trafficking would:

- have someone with parental responsibility to care for and support them

- be prevented from facing further exploitation and harm from their traffickers

- receive the educational, medical, practical and legal support they need to help rebuild their lives

By signing The Body Shop petition, you can help make a difference. This can be done online or in-store, as can treating yourself to the fabulous new ‘Soft Hands, Kind Heart’ hand cream for just £3.50, £2.06 of which goes straight to ECPAT UK. Other ways you can help include cross-posting this article (or the Body Shop link), tweeting for the cause, or linking on Facebook, all of which can be done via the What can I do? link on The Body Shop website. You can also write to your MP calling on them to sign EDM 513, a proposal asking the government to introduce a system of guardianship for child victims of trafficking, here. At the time of my writing this article, the petition has 237, 591 signatures, please add yours today.

For more information on the Trafficking Industry, please refer to the following charity links.

Amnesty International

The Poppy Project


By: Yasmin Eshref, 27.07.2010 | Comments (1)
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Viva Glam

I’m a girl who loves a bit of lippie. From Barry M’s bright orange to Revlon’s Red Velvet ColorStay (trust me- you won’t find a longer lasting shade of scarlet out there!), I’m all about the pout. Which is why I am so excited about M·A·C’s latest Viva Glam collaboration, with two of my favourite ladies, Lady Gaga and Cyndi Lauper, who have each had their own shade of lipstick created for the cause.

The M·A·C AIDS Fund was established in 1994 to support men, women and children affected by HIV/AIDS globally. Through a series of celebrity collaborations (past names include Dita Von Teese, Pamela Anderson and Missy Elliott) , Viva Glam has raised over $150 Million in 67 countries to date. And that’s exclusively through the sale of Lipstick and Lipglass. Who knew make up could be so empowering?

100% of proceeds from the sales of the Lipsticks (which will set you back at a mere £12.50 each, or £12.00 for the Lipglass) goes to the M·A·C AIDS Fund, and be assured, charity never looked this good.  Whether the sexy bubblegum pink Gaga takes your fancy, or the lush coral red Cyndi is your thing, you can now pucker up for a very good cause. As Lady G put it herself ‘Lipstick is a symbol of womanhood and inner strength’. Mwah!

By: Yasmin Eshref, 30.03.2010 | Comments (0)
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Demand Change!

Do you think we ought to be criminalising the demand for prostitution? Check out The Demand Change! Campaign,  a joint initiative between women’s charity Eaves and human rights organisation OBJECT, which aims to:

•    Promote an increased understanding of the myths and realities surrounding prostitution;
•    Call for prostitution to be seen and widely understood as a form of violence against women;

•    Lobby for adoption of the ‘Nordic model’, which tackles demand for prostitution, decriminalises those selling sexual acts and provides adequate resources to assist people to exit prostitution.

If the campaign is succesful, this will be a crucial step towards ending the exploitation and abuse experienced by many women and girls in prostitution. To offer your support, please sign the Demand Change! petition now, before it closes tomorrow.

By: Yasmin Eshref, 23.03.2010 | Comments (0)
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City of Joy Gala on Saturday

Rounding up the See You Next Tuesday festival, an event that has been celebrating International Women’s Day for a good two weeks now (well, if something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well!) comes the City of Joy Gala at London’s New Players Theatre on Saturday the 20th.

Raising funds for the V Day initiative City of Joy (a safe house in Bukavu, DRC, for women who have experienced sexual violence) the gala will feature celebrity guest speakers and debut performances of new works by Maya Angelou and Eve Ensler, as well as music and dancing from Congolese band Kasai Masai. Sounds like an amazing night, and it’s all for a great cause!

Tickets cost £25 and can be bought here.

Text ‘CONGO’ to 82540 to donate £5 to the City of Joy

By: Sarah Barnes, 19.03.2010 | Comments (0)
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Helping Haiti, one needle at a time…

By now I’m sure we’ve all heard about the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti this week. The news is tragic, and rightly, there have been a multitude of money raising efforts started subsequently. Perhaps the oddest one though, can be found here, where a Manhattan plastic Surgeon has pledged to donate all proceeds from Botox and Filler treatments to the Haiti Earthquake Appeal.

I’m slightly torn on this one. Clearly, Haiti is in need of Aid, and the fact that so many people have forwarded what they are able to is admirable. I don’t want to seem for a second that I’m shooting down the notion of fund raising for Haiti, nor am I denying that the Plastic Surgery industry makes big bucks..

… so perhaps I am just being cynical in highlighting the potentially offensive correlation between beautifying, anti-aging plastic surgery in the glamour capital Manhattan,  and the altogether different type of surgery that has been abundant in Haiti this week:  limb amputation.

As has been reported widely across our news media, Haiti hospitals are struggling to cope with the huge influx of seriously injured people needing imminent treatment, with some medical facilities having to be assembled on the streets in order to cope with the huge numbers requiring medical assessment. Botulinum toxin just doesn’t seem appropriate.

To make a donation to the Haiti Earthquake fund, please visit The Red Cross or Oxfam.

By: Yasmin Eshref, 15.01.2010 | Comments (3)
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Teenage Girls Guide To Surviving Sex Slavery

Following on from my post last week about the V-Day meeting calling for an end to sexual violence in the Congo, I just wanted to share this video. In it Eve Ensler performs her piece, inspired by the women of the Congo, entitled ‘Teenage Girls Guide To Surviving Sex Slavery’. It will most definitely be triggering.

I absolutely loved the Vagina Monologues, and thought Until The Violence Stops was one of the most affecting films I’ve ever seen, so I am already an admirer of Ensler’s work. What I love about the way she writes is that you can hear all the fragments of other women’s voices in her pieces, all coming together to loudly speak one truth. You can bet this was the case in the above performance.

Other videos about the situation in Democratic Republic of Congo;

Come Clean For Congo: Life Should Be Free

BBC World News Report

UNICEF and V-Day fight sexual violence in DR Congo

Epidemic of Rape in The Congo: Women for Women International

By: Sarah Barnes, 04.12.2009 | Comments (0)
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Call to Stop Sexual Violence in DRC; V-Day meeting at Royal Albert Hall

Stop Raping Democratic Republic of Congo

Last week I had the great privilege of being invited to hear Eve Ensler speak about the work V-Day is doing to tackle the sexual violence taking place in the Democratic Republic of The Congo(DRC). We gathered at the Royal Albert Hall, since it was exactly 100 years ago that key luminaries of the time had held the Great Congo Demonstration there. That 1909 meeting had resulted in the Free Congo Movement, which campaigned vigorously against the exploitation, slavery and murder of the Congolese people.

One hundred years on, violence and exploitation of a different but equivalent devastation grips the people of DRC. Although the war (which began in 1998, and is also known as Africa’s World War) was declared formally over in July 2003, women and girls remain targets for unimaginable violence. Rape is used as a weapon of war to torture and humiliate, leaving survivors with physical wounds, unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections and the fear of being ostracised by their communities. Between 300,000 and 400,000 women have been raped in the last 12 years (source: V-Day educational film) and it is estimated that 40 women are raped every day in South Kivu, eastern DRC (V-Day and Unicef educational leaflet)

A transcript, and more information about the video, can be found here.

In attendance at the Royal Albert Hall was Lynne Franks (Chair of V-Day UK), MP Eric Joyce, representatives from the Anglican Church and the wonderful Sandi Toksvig, who acted as a compere of sorts, introducing all the speakers. A young woman called Judith, who described herself as a ‘typical North London girl’, took to the stage to tell her story of how she left DRC with her parents at the age of 3. Judith was being filmed for an upcoming BBC programme and, like so many young Britons, had been ignorant of the situation in the Congo. Her recent journey of discovery opened her eyes; “I’d abandoned my mother-land.” Speaking of how DRC is suffering due to the western worlds ever-increasing demand for its minerals, Judith said “I felt complicit…as the minerals in this war are used in the mobile phones, computers and gadgets I use.”

Congolese anti-rape activist Christine Schuler-DeSchryver spoke with us of her experiences. She had just come from Bukavu to speak with us, where she had visited an 82 year old woman recovering from rape in hospital. Speaking out about the atrocities is a very brave action in the Congo, and elsewhere; “Sometimes I am even afraid of my own shadow” she said. After so many years of travelling and talking about the situation, she told us;”I don’t believe in politicians anymore. The only solution is a women’s revolution and the revolution starts here”

Schuler-DeSchryver is the director of the V-Day created City of Joy, “Our revolution centre”, which will be opening around May 2010. The V-Day action pack gives more information on the centre;

The City of Joy will be located in Bukavu, down the road from Panzi hospital, where it will support and train women to become community activists. They will have access to services including education and income generating activities, as well as a ditinct focus on leadership training. They will also receive programming in: group therapy, storytelling, dance, theatre, self defence, comprehensive sexuality education (covering HIV/AIDS, family planning), ecology and horticulture and economic empowrment. The City of Joy will provide women a place to heal emotionally as they rebuild their lives, turn their pain to power, and return back into their communities to lead.

“I will never forget something Jane Fonda said to me in New Orleans;” Schuler-DeSchryver said “‘Can you imagine if you woke up one day and saw on the news that a grandmother in New York had been raped? The whole world would stand up and fight’ But just because they are black and poor, nobody cares”

Introduced as ‘a power-house’ by Sandi Toksvig, Eve Ensler took to the stage. She began; “I am always on the tip of my emotions when I talk about the Congo.” Having been a campaigner for women’s rights for many years, Ensler felt like she had seen all the atrocities it was possible to see, and knew all it was possible to know. However, when she heard the stories of the women of the Congo; “I was forever shattered,” she said “But I don’t want to ever be the same.”

“These are the stories of people just like you and me” Ensler stressed. She then went on to tell us of an eight year old girl name Alisa who she and Schuler-DeSchryver had befriended in DRC. Alisa had endured two weeks of rape at the hands of militia, who had been keeping her captive. When Ensler and Schuler-DeSchryver met her, Alisa had fistula; holes inside herself from wounds caused by the guns and bayonets used on her. Because of there wounds Alisa no longer had control of her urine.

When they met, Ensler had tried to hug Alisa, but she shied away. It was then that Ensler realised Alisa had not been hugged since her ordeal because people were afraid of being urinated on. Determined to show her some affection, Ensler sat her down on her lap and hugged her…and was promptly ‘pee-d’ on. “It was an act of grace, it was a baptism” Ensler said of that moment.

“I don’t think it’s accidental that we’ve been relegated to the basement,” Ensler said sadly of our meeting place that morning, “It’s an indication of the problem that we haven’t filled the hall with thousands. We’re told to sit down here and be peaceful whilst one of the greatest atrocities of the world goes on as we speak”

“The way that the Congo will change is through a womans revolution,” Ensler went on. She spoke of the strong, resilient women of the Congo and said she was sure that “with a little support they can take back agency.”

As we left the space having heard from all the speakers Ensler urged us; “It’s up to all of us to stop being so polite. We need outrage, otherwise we will not penetrate this apathy.”

VDay Congo Meeting Royal Albert Hall

More things to go on and do;

Donate online to V-day; “We welcome any support or donations you are able to give us towards our campaign to prevent rape as a weapon of war in the DRC. Your donation will go towards the City of Joy: a safe house to help women and girls heal from rape, rebuild their lives and re-integrate into their communities.”

Educate yourself using these resources over at Vday.org

Read more over at Women’s E News, where they dedicated a 10 part series to covering this issue.

Add yourself to The V-Wall For Congo

Visit www.stoprapeindrc.org and www.stoprapenow.org

Hold a Congo ‘teach-in’ or other V-day event

Ask your religious leaders, faith communities or congregation to participate in the Congo Sabbath Initiative

Read Congo Now’s Call To Action

(Photograph sourced from Congo Now’s coverage of the event)

By: Sarah Barnes, 26.11.2009 | Comments (1)
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Men! Wear a White Ribbon today!

White Ribbon Campaign

As well as being the United Nations Elimination of Violence Against Women Day, today is also White Ribbon Day – a day set up by the White Ribbon Campaign. Each year the campaign urges men and boys to wear a white ribbon for one week, starting today, to mark the International Day for the Eradication of Violence Against Women. Wearing a white ribbon acts as a personal pledge to never commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women.

The campaign is an interesting and much needed one because it takes the onus of responsibility surrounding male violence against women away from women and sees men as part of the solution. Here is some information from the campaign’s educational material;

Why violence against women is also a men’s issue:

  • *Men are the main perpetrators of violence
  • *The lives of partners, friends, sisters and daughters of men are damaged by violence and abuse
  • *Men can speak out and intervene when male friends and relatives insult or attack women
  • *Men can help create a culture where the behaviour of a minority, who treat women and girls with contempt or violence, becomes unacceptable
  • *Men can examine their own behaviour and consider changes which will create a world based upon gender equality

    10 things men can do to help prevent male violence against women:

    1. 1. Realise that gender violence is a men’s issue that affects women we care about
    2. 2. Never remain silent – confront abusive behaviour of other men
    3. 3. Understand how our own attitudes and actions may perpetuate sexism and violence – work towards changing them
    4. 4. Offer help and support if we suspect a woman is being threatened
    5. 5. Respect women and treat them as equals
    6. 6. Ally with women who are working to end all forms of gender violence
    7. 7. Speak out against homophobia
    8. 8. Educate ourselves about masculinity, gender inequality and the root causes of gender violence
    9. 9. Mentor young men about ways to be men that do not involve degrading or abusing women
    10. 10. Refuse to purchase any magazines, videos or music that portrays women in a degrading or violent manner

    Find out more on the White Ribbon Campaign website

    By: Sarah Barnes, 25.11.2009 | Comments (0)
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    Eco chicks! Pop out to EJF’s Pop-Up Shop!

    EJFf SS 2010 TeeShirt collection

    Today sees the Environmental Justice Foundation -or EJF for those short of time and breath- open the doors of their pop-up shop in Kingly Court, Carnaby Street. They will be selling preview samples of their  organic and fairly traded cotton tee shirts, printed (using organic certified inks, naturally!) with the S/S 2010 exclusive designs by Jenny Packham, Alice Temperley, Richard Nicoll and Ciel (all above).

    EJF is a UK based charity who work internationally to empower the people who suffer most from environmental abuses and help them to find peaceful ways of preventing further devastation in the future. One of the EJF’s primary concerns is the human rights abuses and environmental destruction linked to the production of cotton. It is for this reason that they began the Pick Your Cotton Carefully Campaign. (more…)

    By: Sarah Barnes, 17.11.2009 | Comments (0)
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