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Behind the Work: How Avon Philippines Is Speaking Out against Domestic Violence



Avon Philippines’ general manager Raz Diratian explains how creating an art collective to highlight the domestic abuse against Filipina women has touched upon a different kind of conversation

Behind the Work: How Avon Philippines Is Speaking Out against Domestic Violence
Earlier this year, Avon Philippines teamed up with MullenLowe TREYNA to launch the #SpeakOut art collective. In collaboration with local female artists, the exhibit aims to create conversations about the realities of domestic abuse and raise funds for organisations helping women. These artists were commissioned to create artwork on domestic violence with full artistic freedom to represent it how they thought best.

Avon has a strong presence in the Philippines with almost 200 branches around the country and many representatives. It was this that inspired the brand to use its voice to promote a subject not often touched upon in Filipino society, but in a different way. The brand’s general manager Raz Diratian acknowledges that while domestic abuse happens to all genders, there are often more female victims and so giving them a voice and platform to understand that they are not alone was paramount to the team. A National Demographic Health Survey recorded that one in four women has experienced abuse by their partner. Also, data from the Philippine National Police Women & Children Protection Centre says that at least one woman or child is abused every 10 minutes in the country.

As bidding for the art works continues, LBB’s Natasha Patel caught up with Raz to hear more about the hopes for the collective and Avon’s pledge to build a better world for women.

LBB> What inspired the idea for the #SpeakOut collective?

Raz> Avon has been fighting against domestic violence for decades, but never have we seen it spike the way it did when the lockdown started and trapped the victims with their abusers. 

We’ve always been active on air, on print, and online. Art is but another channel to deliver our message—and we try to spread it on as many channels as we can—especially given that no words can truly capture the horrors of domestic abuse. 

LBB> Once the project was in place why was it important to get women artists to take part in the campaign?

Raz> Domestic abuse happens to all genders, but the stats skew overwhelmingly towards women victims. We need to give them a voice. We need to give them a platform. We need to encourage every woman to #SpeakOut against violence, and we want to let victims know that they are not alone. 

LBB> Is domestic violence against women a topic that is often discussed in the Philippines?

Raz> Unfortunately, there still exists a culture of silence around issues of violence against women. People—sometimes even law enforcement—tend to dismiss abuse as “away mag-asawa” (couple’s quarrel) and avoid interfering. Even some families of victims try to keep mum because they feel like speaking about it would bring dishonour to the family. 

This is why we do all we can to raise awareness about domestic violence. We need to normalise the act of speaking out against violence. 

LBB> How important is this campaign and why was now the best time to release it?

Raz> Avon has been fighting against domestic violence for decades, but never have we seen it spike the way it did when the lockdown started and trapped the victims with their abusers. We want to tell the victims that they may be isolated, but they are never alone. 

LBB> You've been working for Avon for over 20 years now, in that time has anything like this ever been done?

Raz> Domestic violence has been a subject of art and literature for centuries. But for as long as it remains a problem, we will not stop speaking out against domestic violence—be it through art or otherwise.

Each piece is unique and tells its own story. Every story matters, and every story is worth sharing. 

LBB> What was it like creatively for this project to be worked on with many different artists? Did you leave the creativity up to them or was there an input from the brand too?

Raz> This was the first time that we’ve done something like this for Avon Philippines. Every artist was chosen because they shared Avon’s passion for advocacy. They were commissioned to do a commentary on domestic violence, but aside from that, they were allowed full artistic freedom. 

LBB> What has the reaction been like from the public?

Raz> So far, we’ve received a warm response from the public through the media and we’ve received significant coverage with 13 media clips about the effort across top tier print and online publications. Check out the works and other donation channels

LBB> How did the 'Isolated not Alone' tagline come about?

Raz> “Isolated not Alone” was a response to the silent pandemic that brewed behind closed doors. It was launched last year as cases of domestic violence spiked when the lockdown trapped victims with their abusers. 

We wanted to let the victims know that we continue to do our best to help in all ways that we can. They may be isolated, but they will never be alone. 

LBB> What are Avon's hopes for the future with helping domestic abuse victims?

Raz> If there’s one thing we learned in our decades-long crusade against domestic violence, it’s that it takes an entire community to save victims from their abusers.

We want to build a future where every person can #SpeakOut against violence. We want supporters to #SpeakOut and let victims know that they are never alone. 

Victims are often isolated. But when victims know that they have the support of family and friends, they are able to find the courage to also #SpeakOut and seek help. Avon will continue the fight against domestic violence. We can all help by ensuring that communities are able to #SpeakOut against abuse. 

LBB> Aside from this campaign, what has it been like to be working with the beauty brand for all these years? What have been the biggest changes from when you started until now?

Raz> Avon has been one of the most famous beauty brands for more than 135 years and even though the expression of beauty is changing from one trend to another, the values and the purpose of Avon actually never changed. We are trying to make a better life for all women and not only, and we did this in the traditional way, door to door and now we are accelerating our digital revolution, so you can meet us and our Avon Representatives on all the digital channels. Avon is a democratic brand which will always transform to bring beauty and well-being for all women in the Philippines and around the globe.

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MullenLowe Treyna, Thu, 17 Jun 2021 15:21:00 GMT