The SHaME Project, along with WOW, were delighted to launch the Shameless! Festival on Wednesday 27 October, at a reception hosted at the Wellcome Collection.
We were thrilled to hear from speakers including HRH the Duchess of Cornwall, WOW Founder Jude Kelly, Birkbeck’s Professor Joanna Bourke, Chair of Wellcome and former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, activists Payzee Mahmod, Maisha Sumah, and academic and poet Maryyum Mehmood, who shared their insights and spoke inspiringly about building a rape-free world.
In her remarks, the Duchess noted the ‘culture of silence’ around sexual violence, and the role of shame in preventing survivors’ voices from being heard. Pointing to the ‘violence-free world’ that the Shameless! Festival aims to promote, she called on attendees to ‘support survivors to be “shameless”’, and to ‘break the wall of silence that allows perpetrators to go unpunished’. She also urged men to get involved in tackling sexual violence, noting that ‘rapists are not born, they are constructed’.
Plans for the one-day event and digital programme continue apace, with highlights to include:
Actress and model Emily Ratajkowski discussing her debut book My Body, an investigation into body politics and the fetishization of women and girls.
An opening session addressing the scale of sexual violence in the UK with Birkbeck’s Professor Joanna Bourke, founder of Black Minds Rachel Nwokoro; best-selling author Winnie M Li; and activist Payzee Mahmod.
Other speakers will include: Soma Sara, founder of “Everyone’s Invited”; Tanaka Mhishi, poet in residence for the Consent Collective, authors Laura Bates and Rachel Thompson, academic Dr Rabiya Majeed-Ariss, and podcaster Sangeeta Pillai.
The festival will take place at Battersea Arts Centre on Saturday 27 November. It will bring together urgent conversations covering a wide range of topics including the lack of inclusive service provision, consent, medical harms, rape as a weapon of war, and online sexual violence.
Concluding the day will be an evening ticketed event with the actor, model and writer Emily Ratajkowski. In conversation with WOW’s CEO and Founder Jude Kelly, this candid discussion will see Ratajkowski speak in London for one-night only about her new book My Body, exploring what it means to be a woman in a world that consumes, commodifies and violates women’s bodies, and the contempt that often accompanies taking back ownership of the narrative.