Sixteen Days of Activism against Gender Violence

Theater performance opens dialogue on various forms of violence against women in Ukraine

Date: Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Together with Wild Theater, UN Women developed a powerful theater performance called “Scars” based on real-life stories. Photo: UN Women/Oleksiy Tovpyga
Together with Wild Theater, UN Women developed a powerful theater performance called “Scars” based on real-life stories. Photo: UN Women/Oleksiy Tovpyga

UN Women used the power of art and visual performance to raise awareness about different forms of violence against women and the ordeal of survivors during 16 Days of Activism this year in Ukraine. Together with Wild Theater, UN Women developed a powerful theater performance called “Scars” based on real-life stories of Ukrainian women who have experienced gender-based violence and their physical and mental wounds.

The stories in “Scars” explored how violence against women can be difficult to identify because it is often masked and silenced. It encourages that facing and acknowledging the issue, having open dialogue, and asking for help could break the cycle of violence and make the society respond to this issue more effectively by preventing violence, protecting the survivors, and acting when it happens.

Photo: UN Women/Oleksiy Tovpyga
UN Women used the power of art and visual performance to raise awareness about different forms of violence against women. Photo: UN Women/Oleksiy Tovpyga

During 16 Days, “Scars” has reached six cities around Ukraine and a total of 2,500 spectators. More than 300 participants engaged in discussions that took place after the performance, addressing the various stereotypes and how the society can take a more proactive approach in prevention and protection of survivors.

"I personally saw some of my own stories through ‘Scars’. Thank you for making these topics visible. We have so much shame in our culture [around violence against women issues], and the performance gave us all a kind of impetus - to think, ask ourselves questions, and reflect,” said one of the participants of the discussion in Sumy, a city in northern Ukraine.

“Scars” calls on people from all walks of life to learn more and take a stand against the pervasive rape culture that surrounds us, entrenched in the use of misogynistic language, the objectification of bodies or the glamorization of violence on TV, whether in situations of conflict, peace, in our homes or at the streets.

Photo: UN Women/Oleksiy Tovpyga
More than 300 participants engaged in discussions that took place after the performance. Photo: UN Women/Oleksiy Tovpyga

“Girls experience violence more than boys. Most of the girls I know had similar experiences, and they just came home and remained silent. It is good that we can discuss these issues with each other, but many girls will never admit it to even their closest relatives,” said one of the participants of the discussion in Sumy.

First responders to violence also participated in the performance and the discussion in Chernivtsi, in western Ukraine. “I work for the National Police and respond to domestic violence. I try to keep emotions out the door, but it doesn’t always work. I always tell survivors that violence should not be tolerated. I am very glad that more and more people are ready to speak on the subject of violence,” said a police officer.