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Richmond resident spearheads global sexual violence awareness documentary

Bolt Safety Society founder sheds light on global efforts to support survivors.
Vedanshi Vala (right) in Kenya during a humanitarian mission. BOLT Safety Society photo

A Richmond resident is creating a documentary to raise awareness about sexual violence and domestic abuse in Canada and globally.

Vedanshi Vala, founder of BOLT Safety Society, a Richmond-based non-profit working to end violence against women, recently went on a humanitarian mission to Kenya.

While there, she was inspired to create a documentary telling the stories of people and non-profits working in different countries to build safe spaces and resources to help victims of sexual violence.

“I think storytelling is so powerful and hearing it from (local people in Kenya) firsthand - what they’re going through, what they’re working on and how the world can support them,” said Vala.

During her trip to Kenya from mid-August to early September, the goal was to understand what organizations are already doing to help those in need and find ways to add to their work while documenting the process.

“We don’t want to go in with a saviour complex because it’s so misguided to do that,” she said.

“Our objective was really just to work in partnership with the people that are already doing such amazing work and see how we can help elevate it and take it further.”

Sexual violence and domestic abuse occur worldwide, Vala added.

“These things don’t just happen in one place of the world or to one group of people. It’s a big misperception around sexual violence that it only affects a certain demographic, but it can happen to anyone.

“What we really need now is for the community to come together and support safety.”

Vala told the Richmond News the topic is quite sensitive for some, especially those from conservative backgrounds where conversations about relationships and sex are often taboo.

“It’s about meeting people where they’re at, and with respect and consent being so fundamental to any culture, we have found ways to get through to people with that in mind.”

BOLT Safety Society recently received a grant to continue the documentary project in Canada, but Vala and her team are looking to raise money for a trip to India in 2024 as well to make it a “multi-continental project.”

The goal is to raise $5,000 by the end of the year to support the documentary project in India between January and March next year.