The lecture material proved to be critical in developing my draft proposal, not only in the much needed clarification of task requirements but also the student examples of emergent design practices. The examples demonstrated a thoughtful and powerful usage of data collection and visualisation that delivered strong messages about their chosen issues.
Though my draft proposal still lacked planning and structure, I was able to get valuable feedback from someone unfamiliar with the issue of gender based violence. Since my partner was experienced in data visualisation we were able to generate examples of how data could be visualised in unique and engaging ways. He drew my attention to a pinterest board of different data visualisations that organised and illustrated the data in images that were both cohesive and coherent.
From these examples my partner suggested that I would need to be able make further specifications of the data to be used in my project. The design would also need to establish strong relationships between the data juxtapositions to draw attention to the lack of conviction for sexual assault offenders. Furthermore, typography could be used as an unorthodox means of visualising statistics compared to the conventional female symbol. I felt confident in my area of focus and that challenging the legal domain would be an engaging, unique way to challenge the current conversation of gender based violence.
Project Title: Enough is Enough
Practice type: Data Visualisation
The Issue: Gender Based Violence – Judicial sanction of Sexual Assault offenders
The Possible Change: A conversation that petitions for a royal commission/investigation into the legal handling of sexual assault cases – reform of processes and formalities, retrials of injustices, reallocation of judges
Design Action To Support Change: Sexual Assault has been an ongoing concern for the Australian community and rates of attacks have only continued to increase. Past attempts to counteract this issue has been targeted towards women to take preventative measures to avoid rape as if sexual assault is an inevitable burden of being a woman. This ideology inherently sexist but also unconducive as it takes away accountability of the offender as if being devoid of self control and holds the victim accountable for their assault. It is for this reason why media coverage and the conversation of the issue has been interrupted with constant attitudes of victim blaming and slut shaming. The offender, who statistically is highly likely to receive little to no conviction for their crimes, remains in the background noise of the conversation.
I want to reverse this position of the offender, and instead make their low conviction rates the focus of the conversation regarding sexual assault. I aim to create a data visualisation of this aspect by listing all the offenders (between 2010 – 2015) who have been spared the punishment of prison sentences and have thus been allowed the opportunity to recommit assault on another individual. I will repeat the name of the offender for every charge that has been dropped and/or sanctioned by the legal system to illustrate the cycle and repetition of injustice that results from unconvicted sex offenders. This is also to confront the notion that every assault has a different offender, where in reality, many attacks are carried out by the same individual especially if they have received no punishment for their prior crimes.
A key aspect of my project is to relate the lack of conviction to not only the mass frequency of sexual assault but also the even greater mass of unreported assaults. I want the user to realise that victims of assault are extremely hesitant of reporting their offenders because they are aware of the injustices that are highly likely to occur if their case goes to court. To achieve this, there will be a series of data visualisations, with an interactive element so that users can shift between different data sets. There will be intermediate data visualisations between visuals for unconvicted offenders and unreported assaults in order to create a sequence and an understanding of the status of gender based violence in the justice system.
Possible Structure: List of Unconvicted offenders, no. of offenders who go to trial, no. of reported assaults, no. of unreported assaults.
During my data collection into the sex offender registry and news reports, I realised that many offenders remained anonymous as publications were under legal restriction protect the identity of the offender. I initially saw this ambiguity as an obstacle however, in order to illustrated the sheer frequency of offenders who escape conviction I will use the name John Doe to replace the anonymous offender, and colour to distinguish each offender. There will also be a legend present to help the viewer navigate the data and eventually draw the connection between low conviction rates and the mass assaults that go unreported.
This also led me to the idea of representing the unreported victims as Jane Doe as a unique means of illustrating the masses of women who don’t feel supported and protected by the legal system. The names of the offenders will be coded to move across the screen in endless lines to connote the cycle of sanction and reoffence but to also symbolise the ever frequent fear and devastation that victims experience post attack, especially if their offenders are not reprimanded for their crimes. I believe that using names and type will be a new engaging method of representing victims and offender, rather then rendering them into male/female infographics.
I contextualise my design response in an independent website created and managed by a community of victims, lawyers and activists who are all angered by the lack of justice that is constantly carried out by the judicial system. I hope that this design generates a much needed awareness and fuels the beginnings of a shift of conversation regarding sexual assault but also as a means of showing support for victims who have yet to receive it from the laws responsible to protect them.
3A: Possibilities mapping out key quotes, data statistics, web scraping around polemic areas of discussion