Sexual violence should not be shaming for anyone other than the coward who commits it.
Nina Funnell advocates for the rights of victims, serving on the boards of Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia and the National Children’s and Youth Law Centre. She also speaks and writes on a range of issues, including topics such as gender equality, social justice and violence prevention. In 2013 she contributed to the Destroying the Joint anthology. She has also co-authored a book with educator Dannielle Miller titled Loveability: An Empowered Girl’s Guide to Dating and Relationships (HarperCollins, 2014). This explores topics including gender stereotypes, healthy communication, sex and consent, and dating violence.
Nina studied at the University of Sydney where she achieved a first class honours degree in Media and Communications, with a focus on gender studies. It was during this period that she experienced a violent attack while travelling home one evening. She was held at knife point, bashed, choked and indecently sexually assaulted before fighting the perpetrator off and escaping. After reporting the incident to police, Nina became determined to speak out publicly about her ordeal in order to challenge the stigma surrounding sexual assault and raise awareness about violence against women.
Nina says that while her personal experience has certainly shaped the direction of her work, it does not define her. ‘It’s important to put an assault like mine in context and to realise that the overwhelming majority of violence against women is committed by people already known to the victims, including their friends, family members, and current or former partners,’ says Nina.
Nina is now turning her attentions to the intersection between gender violence and social media. Tackling topics such as online sexual harassment, digital privacy violation, non-consensual nude image sharing and cyberstalking, Nina believes that it’s important to keep gender analysis central to the discussion. ‘Rather than demonising the technology, we need to situate emerging issues within an historical context which acknowledges that for eons gender inequality and female oppression were the norm and that patriarchy has played, and continues to play, a key role in the maintenance of that oppression and violence.’
In 2010 Nina was awarded the Australian Human Rights Community (Individual) Award for her advocacy work in violence prevention. She was also named a finalist for Young Australian of the Year. A passionate advocate for gender equality, Nina is part of a new generation who are taking on violence against women, in all its forms.