Photos to challenge attitudes on sexual violence

THE NEWS she is expecting a baby girl has spurred Coffs Harbour photographer Rory Banwell to begin a project to raise awareness of issues surrounding sexual assault.

After seeing a photo of a woman topless except for some strategically placed sticky tape and with the words "still not asking for it" written on her body, Rory was inspired to photograph diverse people in a similar pose with messages highlighting the issue.

NOT ACCEPTABLE: Rory Banwell’s photography project aims to highlight that sexual violence is not OK no matter how the victim is dressed.
NOT ACCEPTABLE: Rory Banwell’s photography project aims to highlight that sexual violence is not OK no matter how the victim is dressed. CONTRIBUTED

"When my partner and I found out that I was pregnant with a girl, we both freaked out about raising a child in a world that seems to accept and condone sexual violence and often blames the victim," Rory said.

"For me, it has been about showing the volume of people who do not condone sexual violence and to visually represent that, by definition, no one can 'ask' to be sexually assaulted or raped.

"I also think it's important to highlight that this issue isn't gender-specific and there seems to be a great void in understanding for male victims of sexual assault."

Rory has already had many volunteers, including men, and was spurred to include her pregnant self in the project after two negative comments from people not understanding why being topless highlighted the issue.

"Too long has the onus been left on the victims/survivors rather than the perpetrators," she said.

"The silence surrounding sexual violence is quite shocking and the stigma and embarrassment is quite backwards, considering it's 2014."

The eventual aim is to take the project from the internet to the walls of a gallery and Rory is open to anyone willing to take part.

She will be photographing people on the Central Coast later this month. To get involved, click here to send an email.

Topics:  sexual assault sexual violence

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