Tolonen, Jonna and Mäkiranta, Mari: Arts-based approaches to violence against women in Finland and Spain

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), ‘Violence against women – particularly intimate partner violence and sexual violence against women – are major public health problems and violations of women’s human rights’. In 2017, globally 84 women were killed every day due to violence against women (UN Women, 2019). Earlier studies related to violence have focused, for instance, on women’s and girls’ experiences of violence by emphasizing cultural and sociological analysis (Honkatukia, 2005; Husso, 2003; Jokinen, 2005; Keskinen, 2005; Kuokkanen, 2015; Ronkainen, 2008). This study utilizes the earlier research related to violence against women and expands the research tradition by shifting the linguistic perspective on the discussions of new materialism and arts-based approaches.

The presentation demonstrates, first, how violence against women is usually seen as an individual, not collective problem (Kuokkanen, 2015; Näre & Ronkainen, 2008). Therefore, the need to increase the societal discussion and awareness of the social and material consequences of such violence is essential to maintain social integration and prevent marginalization in communities. Second, based upon recent visual ethnographic fieldwork studies in Spain, we investigate how women use street interventions to exploit public space by drawing attention to violence against women and raise awareness of female suffering and ill-treatment. Posters, wall writings and stencils are linked to broader social contexts, and the examples demonstrate how Spanish women are using arts-based approaches to let their voice to be heard on issue they consider essential.