This International Women's Day, journalist and TV presenter Stacey Dooley tells Marie Claire about the women who inspire her
Stacey Dooley has spent ten years reporting on conflict around the world, how it specifically impacts women’s lives and meeting the brave women who fight back. In her new book, On The Frontline With The Women Who Fight Back (£14.99, BBC Books), Stacey Dooley recounts the stories she has covered on everything from sex trafficking in Iraq to violence against women in Brazil. Here, she pays tribute to the remarkable women she met on her journey who have continued to inspire her.
Stacey Dooley meets Babs in Brazil
During the Rio Carnival in Brazil, Babs – who is transgender – is celebrated as one of the lead dancers. At that point, she’s welcomed as a beautiful woman putting on a show. But once the performance is over, she has to work as a prostitute to make a living, facing discrimination and danger. Many of the girls working the streets in Rio are killed or thrown off bridges never to be seen again. Babs faces this fear every night just to survive. Her kindness bowled me over.
Shereen in Iraq (below)
In 2014, ISIS targeted the Yazidi community in a genocide, where men rounded up and shot girls they considered unworthy of selling as sex slaves. A year later in Mosul, I met Shereen who had been kept as a sex slave in Mosul for months, repeatedly raped and tortured by her captors and held in a windowless room before she escaped. We went back to that room and I was touched by how graceful Shereen was, even when she discovered ISIS had been toppled. It wasn’t about revenge, she just wanted fairness and equality.
Pip in Honduras
Up to 50,000 teenage mums – many as young as 13 – give birth every year in Honduras, where abortion is illegal and women and girls face up to six years in prison for trying to access emergency contraception, even if they have been raped. Pip was a member of a vigilante group who, despite risking violent attacks from gangs, militia and law enforcement, would go out at 3am to spray-paint walls and put up posters reading, ‘We should have the right to choose what we do with our own bodies’. She was more fearless and passionate than any other teenager I have ever met.
On The Frontline With The Women Who Fight Back by Stacey Dooley (£14.99, BBC Books) is out now