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Creativity Wronged: How women’s right to artistic freedom is denied and marginalized (Report)

December 26, 2018

Over the years, women have been fighting for equality to gain the same legal and human rights as men—the right to vote, the right to own land, the right to an education, and many more. It was less than 40 years ago that an international treaty was enacted to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women. Change remains slow. In 2018, globally, women continue to face unequal treatment, frequent harassment and have limited access to—or are simply completely shut off from—particular practices and experiences. These inequalities stretch significantly into the artistic world for women. Women who perform wearing ‘inappropriate’ clothing or express ‘indecent’ words or thoughts are imprisoned in some countries. Others are censored, prosecuted, fined, fired, harassed, attacked or, in the very worst circumstances, killed. Women all over the world are forced continually to walk a fine line, balancing on the edge of vague definitions made by family, social groups, religious groups, fundamentalist groups and governments, which, if crossed, have significant consequences. Women artists have to suffer that daily negotiation, not because they are artists, but because they are women.

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Alankrita Shrivastava’s film Lipstick Under My Burkha was initially denied release in India for being “lady oriented”, Icelandic artist Borghildur Indriðadóttir had her Facebook friends and photos deleted after she shared a promo of her photo exhibition Demoncrazy featuring topless women, and Afghan playwright and actor Monirah Hashemi received death threats for performing in Afghanistan and shut herself inside her house for three months before relocating to Sweden to continue her career in the arts.

These women artists are just a few of the voices in Freemuse’s new report Creativity Wronged: How women’s right to artistic freedom is denied and marginalized. The first-of-its-kind, 100-page report highlighting the inequality, exclusion, and harassment of women artists and audiences around the world, as documented through five years of research. It is based on dozens of qualitative interviews and contains an analysis of over 90 cases of violations against women artists and audiences over the last five years.

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