Pakistan acid attack survivor's digital story runner-up for Red Cross award

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By KB for APCNews

AUSTIN, TX, USA, 08 February 2011

"Her story might have daunted me but her strength and courage overwhelmed and even empowered me. At that point I decided I would do whatever it takes to help, support and facilitate her. I was impressed by how she had taken the bold step of coming forward, taking her life in control and deciding what was best for her,” said Sana Masood in a digital story she created at a Feminist Tech Exchange workshop, and which recently won an award in the International Committee of the Red Cross’ “Young Reporter” competition.

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What are digital stories?

Digital stories are stories produced, stored and disseminated using digital media. Digital storytelling is a documentation methodology that focuses on the storytellers’ control over the medium, choice of words, pictures and music so that the process is as powerful for the storyteller as the end product is for the listener.

Through these stories of their own experiences, the storytellers deepen the listener’s understanding of the world and themselves, challenge assumptions, empower and inspire, and effect social change. The APC women’s networking support programme (APC WNSP) has used digital stories for documentation, evaluation, and healing and believe they are powerful tools for advocacy.

Her story

Ms Masood, a 24-year-old legal coordinator at Acid Survivors Foundation in Pakistan, created her digital story about her experience of working with a young mother who survived an acid attack by her husband, and who later fought her husband in court. The attack left the young woman’s face disfigured – her nose broken, her eyes and upper lip gone.

“She wanted to fight the court battle against her husband (who was also her perpetrator and who she eventually had to live with) instead of going for an out-of-court settlement or a compromise – a decision not many Pakistani women would make, let alone women from rural areas,” Ms Masood narrated in her story.

International Committee of the Red Cross “Young Reporter” competition

Ms. Masood’s digital story was recently chosen as one of three runners-up in the International Committee of the Red Cross’ “Young Reporter” competition. As a result, Ms Masood will report on an ICRC humanitarian project in Pakistan and will join the other seven winners and runners-up in Geneva in May 2011 on the World Red Cross Red Crescent Day to present their “stories from the field”.

“Through her I started seeing things from a different perspective,” Ms. Mahood said in the digital story. “And I could also feel a lot of stereotypes breaking within me. It does not matter who you are or where you are from. All that matters is what you choose to be and how you capitalise on your strengths and move into a positive direction. To be inspiring for many others –which, in of itself, is being part of the solution.”

Feminist Tech Exchange

Ms Masood created the digital story at a Feminist Tech Exchange (FTX) workshop in Islamabad, Pakistan last year.

FTX workshops – coordinated globally by APC WNSP and local partner organisations as part of APC’s MDG3: Take Back the Tech! to end violence against women project – bring women’s rights activists together to share information, experiences and skills, explore feminist practices and politics of technology, learn about emerging information and communication technologies (ICTs) and applications, and raise awareness of the critical role of communication rights in the struggle to advance women’s rights worldwide.

ICTs serve as a tool for women (who are often less able to benefit from and influence male-dominated ICT development, especially women from developing countries) to document violence against women (VAW) in ways that emphasise the experiences and voices of survivors and anti-VAW activists, as well as raise awareness about VAW in powerful ways.

This FTX workshop in Pakistan was a partnership between P@SHA and APC members Bytes for All and OWPSEE. To date, FTXs have been held in 10 countries: South Africa, Uganda, the Republic of Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Pakistan, Cambodia, the Philippines, Colombia, Mexico and Brazil.

View Ms Masood's digital story.

(END/2011)

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