An exhibition presenting the clothes of women who survived sexual violence was launched at the State University of Moldova

The public exhibition “It’s not about what you wear” presents reconstructed clothes from nine women and adolescent girls from the Republic of Moldova that were abused or sexually harassed. The exhibition thus draws attention to the stereotypes of sexual violence that are present in our society, in order to combat them.

 „Unfortunately over 40% of men in our country consider women to be guilty of being raped and if the woman has a bad reputation or does not oppose any physical resistance when raped, the case should not be considered rape. The real stories presented in the exhibition break the stereptypes and show the contrary – it’s not about the clothes, it’s about the attitude, mentioned during the opening of the event Natalia Valcu, Executive Director at the Women's Law Center.

During their life span, in the Republic of Moldova 6 out of 10 women from the age of 15, face at least one form of violence - psychological, physical or sexual, from their husband or partner. Sexual violence is the third most common form of violence among young girls and leaves serious marks on their lives.

"Young girls do not have enough experience, knowledge and abilities to respond to situations of abuse. As a result, they might face unplanned pregnancies and births, sexually transmitted infections and psycho-emotional disorders. We appeal to all partners to support such initiatives, which make the voices of the most vulnerable women and girls heard and to reduce violence and violations of human rights to zero", said Eugenia Berzan, Programme Analyst at the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Moldova.

In 2017, the police registered 539[1] sexual offenses, out of which 272 were cases of rape and 264 were cases of violent sexual acts.

The case of Iuliana diplayed at the event is representative. She was abused at the age of 15 and her experience marked her entire life. She cut off her long hair, started to wear only men's clothes and she has difficulties with building relationships.

" My boyfriend would like me to wear a dress, make up or a hairdo ... I can’t do that ... that would mean provoking men. I do not want this! I will never be able to make myself beautiful!", is the heartbreaking story of the young woman.

The exhibition "It’s not about what you wear" can be viewed in the Block 2B at the State University, Faculty of Law (M. Kogalniceanu, 65). The organizers propose for the exhibition to be mobile so it can be set up in other educational institutions, law institutions as well as in rural communities to generate talks on the subject and break the existing stereotypes.

"It’s a great initiative and it would be good to organize such events more often, even in schools, universities and private companies. Everything comes from education at home and in schools. It all depends on how children are educated, because they see what happens around them and follow the same behavior when they become adults, "said Alexandru Agrici, 19, student at the Faculty of Law.

The concept of the exhibition "It’s not about what you wear" comes from Arkansas University in the USA and is organized in Moldova by the Women's Law Center, with the support of UNFPA, in collaboration with the International Center "La Strada", the Victims Assistance and Protection Center and the Potential Victims of Trafficking of Human Beings and the State University of Moldova, Faculty of Law.

The event is in line with the UNiTE #HearMeToo global campaign with the focus on public awareness through innovative storytelling, and concludes the activities of the campaign “16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence”.