25-year-old digital artist Merissa Victor is delighted that Malaysia will host its first women’s tribunal on November 27-28.

“I think it’s a step in the right direction to redefine what justice means in our country and to really give affected women a stage, really listen to them and give them space for their stories and experiences,” she says. .

So it was without hesitation that Merissa said yes when approached by a member of the Women’s Tribunal steering committee to work on a video for the inaugural event.

Merissa was excited to make the video for the Women's Tribunal and sees it as 'one of the first steps' in redefining justice for women in Malaysia.  Photo: Merissa VictorMerissa was excited to make the video for the Women’s Tribunal and sees it as ‘one of the first steps’ in redefining justice for women in Malaysia. Photo: Merissa Victor“I am very humbled to have been asked to contribute to the project. Women’s issues and rights are something I’ve been passionate about since elementary school, and I’m grateful to be able to contribute my art and skills to elevate and improve an event like the Women’s Tribunal,” said Merissa, who is currently in Canada for work.

The first women’s tribunal in Malaysia, taking place this weekend (November 27-28), aims to provide an alternative form of justice and advocacy for women who have experienced violence or discrimination in any form. It will present the lived reality of women in Malaysia through proceedings that include witness testimony, lawyer presentations and the verdict of a panel of “judges”.

Merissa, who creates films, animations and illustration pieces for her clients consisting of local (Malaysian) brands, organizations and other artists, says she is currently working on her art and collaborating with other artists in Canada.

“The Steering Committee member of the Women’s Tribunal saw the work I was doing for a local musician, Bihzhu’s single cheating, and contacted me to see if I would be interested in contributing my art and skills to the event, which I was of course! she says.

The concept and design of the video are closely linked to the origins and purpose of the Women's Tribunal, and the lives and experiences of Malaysian women, Merissa said.  Photo: YouTube/Women's Tribunal MalaysiaThe concept and design of the video are closely linked to the origins and purpose of the Women’s Tribunal, and the lives and experiences of Malaysian women, Merissa said. Photo: YouTube/Women’s Tribunal Malaysia

“From conceptualizing to creating about four concepts leading to the final piece, it took about three months to complete the video. I worked closely with the Women’s Tribunal team to really hone the concept and make sure their intent was conveyed through the images,” she adds.

Merissa says she also worked with SHAF, a Malaysian musician who currently lives in London, England, for the music used in the video.

According to Merissa, the concept of the short film and its design elements are closely linked to the origin and purpose of the Women’s Tribunal, and the lives and experiences of Malaysian women.

The design elements reflect our shared culture and heritage, which is as unique and diverse as all many Malaysian women and their life experiences, says Merissa.  Photo: YouTube/Women's Tribunal MalaysiaThe design elements reflect our shared culture and heritage, which is as unique and diverse as all many Malaysian women and their life experiences, says Merissa. Photo: YouTube/Women’s Tribunal Malaysia

“When I think about the origin and purpose of the Women’s Tribunal, the piece I created follows the life of a seedling. The seedling, after generations of feeding, care and pollination, blossoms into a blooming garden, full of lush, majestic flowers.

“The Women’s Tribunal is just one of the first steps in redefining justice for women in Malaysia. But I hope this will continue and facilitate the necessary work and inspire other movements that will enable Malaysia to achieve gender equality – just as a seedling will one day grow into a thriving and thriving botanic garden,” she says.

“In terms of design elements, our shared culture and heritage are as unique and diverse as all the many Malaysian women and their life experiences. So it was very important for us (the Women’s Tribunal team, SHAF and I) to make it clearly Malaysian, while elevating and celebrating different aspects of Malaysian culture. Some of the visual elements are batik patterns, rice paddies, flowers from Malaysia and the colors of our Jalur Gemilang, while the music has some gamelan in it,” she explains.

Some of the visual elements that Merissa used are batik patterns, rice paddies, flowers sourced from Malaysia and the colors of our Jalur Gemilang while the music has some gamelan in it.  Photo: YouTube/Women's Tribunal MalaysiaSome of the visual elements that Merissa used are batik patterns, rice paddies, flowers sourced from Malaysia and the colors of our Jalur Gemilang while the music has some gamelan in it. Photo: YouTube/Women’s Tribunal Malaysia

“I hope the video will convey a sense of hope and foster community among women and every other gender in Malaysia. We are in this together and together we can inspire and bring about change in our own communities,” she concludes.

More info at: womenstribunalmalaysia.com/

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