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Girl Fest, Preventing Violence
thru Art and Events

Girl Fest celebrates a second year in the San Francisco Bay Area and their fourth year in Hawaii, uniting community members, using art and education, to prevent violence against women and girls.

This amazing, multi-day festival brings panels, workshops, films, speakers, performers, poets, musicians & bands, politicians, and activists of all ages together to reach the goal faster. This year, Girl Fest will be in the San Francisco Bay Area July 19th to the 22nd, and in Hawaii November 9th to the 18th.

Women's Radio InterviewListen here as Girl Fest Bay Area co-directors, Kathryn Xian and Jessmaya Morales join WomensRadio Editor-in-Chief, Pat Lynch, on “Speak Up.”

Girl Fest is produced by the Safe Zone Foundation, an organization that works year round to educate the public on issues of sex-trafficking, violence and abuse against women and girls. The Safe Zone organization also implements successful advocacy campaigns to abolish sex-trafficking and other forms of sex-slavery. In November 2003, Girl Fest coordinated a well-publicized, peaceful demonstration outside the business address of Melvin Hamaguchi, sex-tour operator promoting the “Ultimate Asian Sex Tour,” who soon after shut down his business, Video Travel.

Girl Fest was established on the premise that, whether in San Francisco or the rest of the world, public awareness and community education are an integral part of the prevention of harm. Girl Fest furthers awareness by giving girls and women a safe environment in which to find and express their voices with confidence, speak out about violence, and educate the community about ways to address all of the myriad forms of violence against women that are experienced.

Performers and speakers will include fierce female hip hop artists Mystic, Medusa, and God-Des & She; musicians Jennifer Johns, Imani Uzuri, Femi, Doria Roberts, Sparlha Swa; Dance companies Culture Shock Oakland, Sisterz of the Underground, and Velocity Circus; speakers Aya de Leon, Kim Clark, Aggie Falk, Michael James, Nola Brantley, Anne Bissell, and Marina Gatto; and poets, writers and comedians Ali Wong, Bushra Rehman, Rachel Kann, Amber Tamblyn, Andrea Gibson, and more.

The ultimate goal of The Safe Zone Foundation’s Girl Fest program is to create social change through the use of educational and artistic media and to advance the development of institutional and individual policies and programs to promote economic, social, racial, and gender equality. The immediate goal of Girl Fest is to prevent the increase in violence against girls and women. They are striving to change peer culture in order to prevent increasing violence against women and girls through education, entertainment and positive representations of women. When girls experience sexual abuse, more often than not, they do not seek help, call hotlines or tell their parents. They ask their friends for help, friends who are not equipped to handle situations such as abuse.

The goals of the upcoming festivals are to:

1) Create broad awareness of the contemporary economic and social issues that face women.

2) Introduce positive role models to young girls.

3) Create a venue for organizational networking on the subject to form progressive relationships by and between organizations that work in various ways to end violence against women and girls.

4) Inspire, entertain, and engage audiences with artistic and intellectual expression with a positive message.

5) Educate youth and adults through educational curricula and hands-on workshops about healing after abuse through progressive arts therapy, societal and individual prevention of violence, community resources, and positive self-expression.

6) Change peer culture to prevent future violence.

Girl Fest Bay Area has gathered a strong core group of young men and women, local small business owners, artists and other concerned citizens who are all volunteering their time toward realizing one mission: to prevent violence against women and girls through education and art.

Girl Fest provides young women, and the entire community positive role models, encouragement, tools for avoiding violence in relationships and life, and information on resources available to them for counseling, support, shelter and legal advocacy. This is an event dedicated to educating and empowering the community in order to prevent violence. Since women make up half of the population, when we suffer from economic or physical violence, the effects ripple outward to society, across cultures and across generations.

Millions and millions of women and girls all over the world are victims of various forms of abuse. In the US, when a woman is a homicide victim, 30% of the time the criminal is a husband or boyfriend. Domestic violence and rape occur is escalating around the world at an alarming rate. Every nine seconds a woman in the US is physically abused. Every two minutes, a woman in the US is raped. 20%-25% of college women will be the victim of rape or attempted rape, and 90% of those survivors know their attacker.

Women are constantly bombarded with advertisements perpetuating negative stereotypes. In 97% of the 400+ ads a person is exposed to a day, a woman is represented in a narrow version of a female role, either as a wife, mother, secretary, or other subservient role, as a sex object, or in other degrading and compromising situations. Research indicates that young girls are susceptible to low self esteem and over seven million women in the US suffer from eating disorders. Combined with sexual harassment and unbalanced wages, women continue to be treated as victims. Girl Fest is trying to put an end to these practices and put in their place, a community spirit that holds women in high esteem.

Beginning prevention in Hawaii:

Girl Fest has been working to prevent violence against women and girls in a collaborative way since 2003 in Hawaii. This unique festival has successfully ventured into un-chartered territory by using the arts and education in an atmosphere of fun and collaboration to prevent violence in the community. Girl Fest also has used alternative approaches to education through outreach workshops through the year.

The leaders of Girl Fest also collaborated with Hawaii’s social services and educational institutions who share its mission. Emergency services for abused women are now more visible, and Girl Fest and its partners have created an environment for women and girls to come forward and ask for help. In addition, Girl Fest’s Men’s Program has inspired community male educators to engage in the fight to prevent violence against women.

Girl Fest was established on the premise that, whether in Hawaii, the mainland U.S. or the rest of the world, public awareness is not just a passive activity, but an integral part of the prevention of harm. The festival furthers awareness by giving women and girls a safe environment in which to find and express their voices with confidence.

Through this first step in empowerment, women and girls may seek ways in which to better their lives through education, to cultivate their own unique voices, to encourage themselves and others in collaborative projects—to create their own setting for individual and social progress beginning with the work they must do within themselves.

Girl Fest and The Safe Zone Foundation founded the Rape-Free Zone Coalition (RFZC) in order to assist the University of Hawaii (UH) in taking the lead in preventing violence against female students on or near campus. The UH System was declared a Rape Free Zone by Interim President McClain on August 29th 2005.

This declaration was recognized by both parties to be more than a public declaration against rape, due to a recent spate of rapes in and near Manoa campus. It is a work in progress in which the UH collaborates with the RFZC to establish more demanding standards for security, policies on sex assault, and in creating a viable violence prevention educational program for students, coaches, athletes, university administration and staff. The goal is to ensure the safety and well-being of all students so that their access to a university education remains unimpeded by issues of criminal sex assault and lack of administrative response.

The University, the RFZC, the Sex Abuse Treatment Center, and others collaborated on the first of a series of educational trainings for the UH students, faculty, staff, administration, athletes and coaches with the 2nd Annual Girl Fest Hawaii Men’s Program led by Jackson Katz, leading anti-sexism trainer and founder of MVP Strategies. This training was an unprecedented event in the University’s history.

For more information on the Safe Zone Foundation, visit their website at The program for Girl Fest Bay Area 2007 can be found and downloaded from their website at and the program for Hawaii can be found at

Credit: Excerpts reprinted with permission from Girl Fest Websites

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