We are so excited to announce more speakers and event details for Shameless! Festival of Activism Against Sexual Violence, a one-day in person event on 27th November, organised by WOW and Birkbeck, University of London’s SHaME project.
Taking place in South London, the epicentre of recent conversations in the UK around sexual violence following the murders of Sabina Nessa and Sarah Everard, Shameless! Festival shines a light on the realities affecting millions of people of all genders across the world. With 1 in 3 women across the global population having been affected by sexual violence, this pioneering event aims to reposition urgent conversations and importantly eradicate the misplaced feelings of shame that prevent such a large proportion of survivors from feeling able to seek help or report incidences of sexual violence.
Shameless! Festival will involve charities, artists, leading voices, survivors and wellness practitioners from national, international and grassroots organisations. Ticket holders will be able to curate their day, exploring a day-long programme of talks, workshops, performances and more. Discussions throughout the day will address topics from the normalisation of sexual violence through to the rape myths that have entered the public discourse, consent, everyday triggers and survival.
Inspired by the format of WOW’s Festivals, Shameless! will offer challenging conversations but also moments of joy, spontaneity, laughter and optimism. Festival goers can experience popups, visit the marketplace and access healing sessions. These include therapist-led sharing circles for survivors, a workshop on how to be a supportive friend and confidence tools for building self compassion. On-site support and one-on-one sessions with experts will be available throughout the festival to help support the wellbeing of speakers, audience members and artists alike during the festival and beyond.
A powerful and frank opening session from Founder and CEO of WOW Jude Kelly CBE and Director of Birkbeck’s SHaME Project Professor Joanna Bourke will address attitudes towards sexual violence and the dangers of it being normalised, culminating in a performance by the survivors of human trafficking ensemble, Amies Freedom Choir.
Throughout the day, The Hope Box will bring hope and celebration with performers and activists standing on their ‘Hope Boxes’ to offer optimism and joy. Appearances will include a performance by winner of the Merky Books New Writers Prize Monika Radojevic, and a powerful reflection and rejection of shame in the South Asian community by award-winning podcaster and founder of Soul Sutras, Sangeeta Pillai. Actress Ellice Stevens will also perform a dramatic retelling of the work and life of artist Artemisia Gentileschi. The day will be broken up with a period of communal Radical Rest, which will offer festival goers the chance to recharge and reflect on the morning's activities, before enjoying the rest of the day.
Survivor and award-winning author Winnie M Li (Dark Chapter, Complicit), activist and author Laura Bates (Men Who Hate Women) and co-founder of the advocacy group The Triple Cripples Jumoke Abdullahi will question why sexual violence and the sexualisation of women’s bodies has become so normalised.
An expert panel made up of journalist and survivor Olivia Petter, Dr Maryyum Mehmood, Mamatha Isha Sumah and award-winning author Lucia Osborne-Crowley (My Body Keeps Your Secrets) will explore how to navigate life without trigger warnings, and ask if there is a better way to provide due care and attention to survivors.
Exploring the power dynamics that continue after the act of sexual violence, writer and campaigner Caitlin May McNamara, author Leah Cowan (Border Nation) and the Deputy Leader of the Women’s Equality party Tabitha Morton will explore the political stratagem of sexual violence and what can be done to rebalance power.
Professor Joanna Bourke, critically acclaimed author Rachel Thompson (ROUGH) and podcast host Sarah Ozo-Irabor will burst open the myths and untruths around sexual assault that have entered the public imagination.
Movement builder for Chayn Naomi Alexander Naidoo, campaigner and writer Laura Bates and cybersecurity expert Julia Slupska will lead a session on sexual violence and the digital world, addressing online abuse and innovative frontline services for survivors as they look to redefine our ideas about the separation between the online and offline world.
Author Catriona Morton (The Way We Survive), poet, survivor and founder of Black Minds Rachel Nwokoro, speaker and activist Sabah Choudrey, and artist and survivor Tashmia Owen will lead a vital discussion around survival, the journey of healing and what happens if you don’t fit the mold of the ‘empowered survivor’.
Exploring why rape prosecutions and convictions in England and Wales fell to the lowest ever level in 2020, Helena Kennedy QC will be joined by Director of the interdisciplinary research centre for the study of Emotion and Law Amina Memon, Leader of the Women's Equality Party Mandu Reid, author and Senior Lecturer in Criminology Alexandra Fanghanel and lawyer and activist Charlotte Proudman. Together they will explore how the system is letting victims down and take audiences through the journey of reporting incidents of sexual violence through to giving legal testimony.
Poet, performer and survivor Tanaka Mhishi, and activist Ben Hurst will examine why male survivors are often overlooked and ask how we can challenge the elements of masculinity that can often normalise violence.
Jude Kelly, Tanaka Mhishi, academic Jacqueline Rose, founder of Everyone’s Invited Soma Sara and disability activist Dr Amy Kavanagh look at how our understanding of consent has changed, the limitations of the language of sexual violence and ask how we can reimagine the gradations of consent.
Interactive workshops will take place across the day for those who would like to actively take part. Dr Galadriel Ravelli, Dr Milena Romano and Dr Sandra Darocazi will look at how sexual violence and rape have been represented in visual arts from 15th century to today, giving voiceless characters a new narrative of solidarity on a shared collective canvas. Award-winning writers and survivors Winnie M Li and Clare Shaw will lead a creative writing workshop specifically for anyone who has experienced sexual violence, designed to demonstrate the power of writing as a healing and transformative act.
Concluding the day will be a separate evening ticketed event with actor, model and writer Emily Ratajkowski. In conversation with Jude Kelly, Ratajowski will discuss her new book My Body for the first time in front of a live UK audience.
About Shameless! Festival
Shameless! Festivals of Activism Against Sexual Violence are presented by WOW, which is run by UK charity The WOW Foundation. The festivals are presented in collaboration and as part of Birkbeck’s SHaME project, a research hub for scholarship exploring the medical and psychiatric aspects of sexual violence. Placing medical professionals at the heart of the debates, the project seeks to address the global crisis and help move beyond the shame often attached to sexual violence. The project will take place over three years, with 2022’s Shameless Festival! to be produced by WOW Rio curators Redes da Maré in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Find out more about the SHaME project here.