On the 25th of November, International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women, Women and Men Progressive Foundation collaborated with Wunderman Thompson Thailand, Electrolux and Thai Health Promotion, to raise awareness of the grim reality of domestic abuse survivors in Thailand. They created a virtual reality museum called The Museum of First Time, which lead audiences through the story of a domestic abuse victim called ‘Air’, showing the cracks of a relationship that quickly spiralled into a horrific nightmare.
Aiming to disrupt the traditional virtual museum experience, The Museum of First Time gives viewers a 360-degree view simulating the environment of the story – walking us through the first shaky steps of a newly blossomed crush, all the way into the room of the abused woman, reminding that us that when it comes to domestic violence “once is enough”. The message that domestic abuse never ends with the first time echoes within the corridors of the virtual house, and manages to stay with viewers long after the virtual experience.
Indeed, looking at statistics drawn by Women and Men Progressive Movement Foundation, out of the 71 cases of women facing domestic abuse who sought help from the foundation, 100% were repeated. Additionally, the Covid-19 pandemic paints an even sadder picture – a study of nearly 2000 people aged 20 and over in Bangkok and surrounding areas showed that 53.1% of women experience verbal violence and 20.2% physical violence. Tied in with the pandemic, the foundation and teams that executed the campaign took the opportunity to use a new approach to raising awareness and helping survivors find help – virtual museums, as one of the most popular forms of entertainment and education during the pandemic.
Chanikarn Sitthiaree, creative group head at Wunderman Thompson Thailand took LBB’s Zoe Antonov behind the scenes of this project to tell her about the difficulties and necessities when addressing this pressing issue.
LBB> What was the brief for this project and how did you come up with the concept?
Chanikarn> Women and Men Progressive Movement Foundation wanted to create a campaign to end domestic violence, but due to Covid-19, all the rallies and events were cancelled, so we had to think of another way to raise awareness.
From their data, 100% of cases of domestic violence never end after the first time. The degree of violence will be increasingly more and more if the victims give them more chances. We also found an interesting insight that women clearly remember their first time, first kiss, first hug, first presents and of course first abuse, first kick, first strap.
Thus, we created this “Museum of First Time” - a 360 virtual museum on Web GL based on a real story, where everyone can experience first time of a real victim.
LBB> Is the museum based on a real-life story and if so, what was the process of finding it and working with the survivor?
Chanikarn> The whole story in Museum of First Time is based on “Air”, a victim of domestic violence. “Air” was one of the victims whose lives Women and Men Progressive Movement Foundation had helped changed. We developed this virtual museum together with her because we believe that a real story has a power to convince anyone who is a victim of violence to raise their hand so we could help.
LBB> This is not your typical virtual museum experience. Tell me more about the process of setting up the house, its layout and the meaning behind it?
Chanikarn> We started by interviewing a real victim, asking her story about first time, her photo of her previous house and herself, then we drafted a layout of each room, a journey of her story, then found a similar location and planned a shooting.
We also found her break-up letter and used her handwriting to add to the story. We used a special 360 camera to capture all the story together with some still photos and a surprise video with “Air” at the end of the journey.
For the music, we split into two parts: the first part was melancholic music, to reflect “Air’s” past lover, the second part was a thriller piece to reflect the abuse.
LBB> This project must have been pretty emotional to work on. What were the biggest challenges for you and the team?
Chanikarn> It started two months before 25 November (International Day for The Elimination of Violence Against Women). We are still in Covid-19 times, so the way of working is not easy. Most of the time, we are working from home and virtually. Teamwork is super important, there are so many challenges, trial and errors, and the timeline was pretty tight.
Another challenging aspect is also the emotional effect the project had. When we first showed the museum to “Air”, she cried as it felt like the project was bringing her back to those day of abuse. However, it was important to show everyone the severity of domestic abuse, thus we had to push through emotionally.
Our team felt rewarded the moment we launched the work, and everyone started sharing the content. All the comments are positive with a clear call-to-action: Once is enough. Stop abusing women.
LBB> What has been the audiences' response to the museum so far?
Chanikarn> It was phenomenal, the press has been talking about the museum, people are sharing it, there are a lot of comments about “Air”, giving her support. Most importantly, many victims started posting about their own story. The campaign has seen a lot of movement.
LBB> What is the main message that you would like this project to get across?
Chanikarn> For domestic violence, once is enough.
LBB> Any final thoughts?
Chanikarn> On a regional or global level, we hope the Museum of First Time can raise awareness on domestic abuse.
For our fellow Thai audience, we can help you, starting from the first instance of abuse. Do not hesitate to contact Women and Men Progressive Movement Foundation.