Global Hero of the Week: Yusuf Omar

Heroes: they come in all forms. They come to us under the guise of “survivor,” of “friend,” of “advocate.” And nowadays, more than ever, it seems everyone in the world could use a hero. Meet Together for Girls' hero of the week, Yusuf Omar.

Covering the issue of sexual abuse in India is rife with challenges. For one, the stigma of sexual violence prevents survivors from speaking openly about their experiences. Secondly, media outlets are prohibited from identifying survivors of sexual assault.

Yusuf Omar took on these challenges. Armed with a smartphone and Snapchat, a popular video messaging application, he filmed abuse survivors with a smartphone in ‘selfie’ mode. To protect their identities, Omar used Snapchat filters to mask their faces. These filters allow the eyes and expressions of the subject to be seen providing a more authentic and intimate experience for the viewer. Even better, these filters made it possible for survivors to express themselves without fear. In fact, Omar wasn’t even there during filming. He walked away so it would be easier for the survivors to tell their stories.

With this innovative approach to using social media for social good, Omar is currently building the world’s largest mobile journalism team, training 750 reporters to stories using their phones.

Additionally, his outlet, the Hindustan Times, has since published a series of celebrity-authored pieces on sexual violence as a part of their #Let’sTalkAboutRape initiative.

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Yusuf has had a positive influence in the use of social media as a means to give these survivors a voice, and we applaud him for his work!!