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New graphic novel challenges views on sexual violence in immigrant communities

Telling Our Stories: Immigrant Women’s Resilience, was created by the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants.

'We wanted something that wasn't just another poster,' says organization's coordinator

Telling Our Stories: Immigrant Women’s Resilience contains four stories based on the experiences of refugee and immigrant women with sexual violence. (OCASI)
New graphic novel to be launched in Sudbury this Friday challenges sexual violence in immigrant communities. The CBC's Jason Turnbull spoke with Krittika. She managed the development of the graphic novel. 6:35

A new graphic novel is challenging stereotypes of sexual violence in immigrant communities.

Telling Our Stories: Immigrant Women's Resilience, was created by the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants.

The goal of the book is to jump start a conversation in communities where sexual violence is considered taboo, said Krittika Ghosh, the senior coordinator for the organization's violence against women program.

"We wanted something that ... wasn't just a lecture or a poster or the same old materials," Ghosh said.

"We've had so many campaigns, we wanted this to be impactful and [something] people from all backgrounds and literacy levels could read and identify with."

'We wanted something that...wasn’t just a lecture or a poster or the same old materials,' Krittika Ghosh, the senior coordinator for the organization's violence against women program said. (www.ocasi.org)

The book contains four stories based on the experiences of refugee and immigrant women with sexual violence, Ghosh said.

And to remain true to the people they represented, Ghosh said the organization enlisted the help of artists from immigrant and refugee communities.

"We did creative writing workshops with 10-person groups," Ghosh said. "They had very diverse experiences [with sexual violence,] marital, sexual harassment in university, intersecting with Islamophobia."

'Telling Our Stories: Immigrant Women’s Resilience' is a graphic novel released by the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants to help open a dialogue about sexual violence in immigrant and refugee communities. (OCASI)

The book also attempts to provide instruction for people who may find themselves as bystanders during incidents of sexual violence.

"[The book] is not just for survivors," Ghosh said. " It's also for you as a community member, saying what do you do?"

The novels, which were first published in English and French, will now also be available in nine other languages including Urdu, Punjabi, Dari, Arabic, Tamil, Armenian, Somali, Chinese, and Spanish. They are available for free at organizations across the province, and through the OCASI website.

There will be a book launch in Sudbury on Friday Aug. 25 at the Lexington Hotel on Brady Street between 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. The event is organized in partnership with YMCA Sudbury. Anyone can register to attend online.

'Telling our stories' is launching in nine different languages across Ontario in the hopes of lending a voice to immigrant communities where sexual violence isn't always addressed openly. (OCASI)

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