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Cartoon competition draws bleak picture of gender-based violence

By Camille Dupire - Dec 06,2017 - Last updated at Dec 06,2017

Photo courtesy of Alaa Rustum

AMMAN — “When I draw women and their rights, I’m drawing about me,” said Doaa El Adl, one of the winners of the online cartoon competition created by Omar Al Abdallat and run by the United Nations Population Fund Jordan (UNFPA) in collaboration with Seven Circles and Bright Future.

Launched as part of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence (GBV) campaign taking place between November 25 and December 10, the competition aimed to “find an innovative way to shed light on GBV”, said Laila Baker, UNFPA Jordan representative, adding  that “we think that cartoons can provide a fresh take on a subject matter that is often times not easy to explore.” 

Egyptian El Adl alongside Syrian Alaa Rustum were awarded a $500 prize, chosen out of a total of 167 cartoons which gathered 6,190 votes.

Depicting an older man with a baby carriage carrying a weeping young girl in a wedding gown, Rustum’s cartoon “Underage” was presented with the description “child rape in the name of marriage”. 

Voicing his appreciation of the recognition of his work, the Syrian artist said it “motivates me to continue drawing the sad and the humorous — the art of caricature on a topic that concerns everyone”.

For her part, Adl, an awardwinning cartoonist who was named one of the BBC’s “100 Women” in 2016, presented a cartoon titled “Marriage of Minors”, portraying an elderly man smiling as he pushes a shopping cart full of young girls wearing wedding gowns.

The drawing was published with the description “on the phenomenon of marriage of underage girls”. 

The cartoon competition, which was open to anyone over 18 years old sought to highlight the negative effects of child marriage and domestic violence. 

“As a woman, I believe it is crucial to raise awareness on the topic of GBV. I am very happy to see that the platform we created is used for such causes and that it brought attention to over 72,000 people,” said Dominika Turek, CEO at Bright Future.

“We are very humbled to be firsthand witnesses to so much talent. We hope this will be a reminder of the infinite potential people have in empowering women and building a kinder world,” Dina Saoudi, co-founder of Seven Circles, told The Jordan Times after the event.

Baker was part of the jury, along with UNFPA Jordan Emergency Youth Officer Leana Islam, Deputy Director of Programmes at International Rescue Committee Bryn Boyce, Mary Nazzal-Batayneh, named as one of Forbes’ most powerful Arab businesswomen, journalist Hana Al Araj and Gada Jermy, a digital artist. 

“The cartoons submitted in this competition were raw and painful to view. But we need to feel the pain experienced by so many women in order to mobilise and take action to end inequality and violence towards women,” Batayneh said. 

The cartoons can still be seen at

172 users have voted.


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