*Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault, Rape, Torture*
Hi! Our names are Rosie Heselev, Lina Lee, Lyndsay Bassett and Georgia Dee and we're shaving our heads to raise money for Change Action Nepal, a nonprofit that supports victims of gender based violence.
We are shaving our heads to:
- Acknowlege the human rights abuses committed against girls in Nepal and around the world
- Protest against gender-based violence, victim blaming and torture
- Reclaim notions of beauty, to own our bodies and our own 'worth'
- Help build a future for Nepal where all women and girls can live in peace and safety.
- Raise funds for a new safe house!
In Nepal, headshaving a woman is a disgustingly prevalent form of social punishment, control and shame. Women and girls who have been raped, sexually assaulted, widowed or had sex outside marriage are often headshaved. The woman is hence marked as a 'used good', rejected by her family and communities and destined to a life of poverty and struggle.
Many conservative communities believe that a woman's only worth is her sexual attraction and beauty, exhibited through her hair. Removing hair neutralises the perceived 'dangers' of a woman's sexual power, stripping her of worth. It symbolises a woman's downfall – she becomes unfit for society, an 'untouchable', less than nothing.
We would like to share with you a story.
Please be warned that this is disturbing content.
Ruth (name changed) was only 7 when her grandfather started raping her. Her grandfather threatened to kill her if she said anything. One day, the neighbours heard a child screaming, and came to investigate. They saw what was happening, resulting in her grandfather's arrest and imprisonment.
However, things did not improve for Ruth. Her family all turned against the young girl, refusing to speak to her or even feed her. The grandfather's arrest had brought great shame to the family, and they thought it was her fault. In a display of 'honor', the family shaved Ruth's head, a punishment for her 'sexual deviance'. Remember: she was 7 years old.
Ruth became very unwell. She suffered significant injuries as a result of the continued rape, and her family's neglect left her malnourished and suffering from TB. She also had major psychiatric trauma, from the fear of her grandfather's threats, from carrying the secret with her for so long, and the resulting shame she felt after it was exposed. She was taken to hospital by a local organisation, where she was close to death. Being unable to return to her family, CAN came to provide a home.
At the CAN safe home in Kathmandu, Ruth is improving everyday. She is studying at a private school, receiving quality and diverse education. She has medication, a special diet and receives counselling. While it is very hard to forget what had happened to her, she now says 'what happened to me was not my fault'. She wants to dedicate her life to create change, her dream for the future is to become a doctor so she can help other girls like her.
Change Action Nepal helps girls like Ruth survive and triumph.
CAN is a grassroots organisation aiming to end, or at least minimise, gender-based violence and slavery in Nepal. CAN provides a safe house, education and other assistance to women in need throughout Nepal, while also raising awareness and pushing for legislative change.
CAN needs a new, larger safe house to accommodate a growing number of girls in need. Many young girls such as Ruth are left abandoned every day in Nepal, and a safe house is fundamental to their survival and future. The safe house provides a new start for girls who have been abandoned, socially rejected rejection and stigmatised. At the home, the girls are provided all food, comfortable lodging, clothing and education scholarships. The girls receive counselling and various forms of therapy, while living with other girls with similar experiences provides a central support network.
CAN receives no regular funding and relies on the generosity of individual donors. We are aiming to raise $10,000 to buy a new safe house. Having personally worked with the organisation, I can testify that 100% of funds raised go directly to the girls and their futures, with no administration costs.
Thank you so much for your support. Your donation will help safeguard many, many girls in Nepal and give them a good education and an opportunity to enjoy a fulfilling life.
Help spread the word!