2017 Trust Conference Action

'Art for Advocacy: Translating the stories of Yazidi women'

Hannah Rose Thomas, Artist and Peace Activist (UK)


Using art to empower Yazidi women.

The Problem

This summer Hannah had the privilege of travelling to Kurdistan to organize an art project for a group of Yazidi women who have escaped ISIS captivity. The project was based at the Jinda Center, a rehabilitation facility in Dohuk – Jinda is Kurdish for ‘new life’. The aim of the art project was to use art as a tool for advocacy; teaching the women to paint self-portraits as a powerful medium o share their testimonies. In Western media we hear barbaric accounts of rape, torture and enslavement of Yazidi women, who are constantly spoken of and presented through a lens of violence and victimhood. However, this was not the story the women wanted to tell through their paintings. These paintings convey their dignity, resilience and unspeakable grief.

The Action

Teaching these women to paint their self-portraits has been a way for these women, who have never been to school or learned to read and write, to share their stories with the rest of the world. Testimony is an important element of the recovery process post-torture and sexual violence. Hannah’s previous exhibition of refugee portrait paintings from camps in Jordan and Calais has travelled to numerous locations, including The Saatchi Gallery and the Scottish Parliament, to raise awareness of the plight of refugees and to show the human stories behind
the statistics.

Hannah is seeking help to enable this exhibition to travel, to give these Yazidi women a voice and ensure that their stories are not lost or forgotten.

What help is needed

2018 Trust Women Actions

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