For women facing violence and harassment, speaking out and seeking help can be uphill battle. But Arman Abrahimzadeh and Zoe Condliffe are fighting to change that, in new and different ways.
By
Alexandra Fisher

24 May 2018 - 9:51 AM  UPDATED 6 Jun 2019 - 12:13 PM

Arman Abrahimzadeh watched his father abuse their family over two long decades. But it wasn’t until 2009 that Arman, his mother and siblings realised just how much danger they were in. During an argument between Arman’s parents, his father ran to the kitchen to arm himself with a knife. Arman, then 21, and his older sister managed to stop their father reaching the weapon.

“When he saw that he couldn't get a knife, he cornered us and he said ‘you can't watch me 24/7, when you least expect it I'm going to lock you all in this house and I want to burn the house down’”, Arman Abrahimzadeh tells The Few Who Do in episode eight.

The incident was a turning point for Arman, his mother and siblings. Together they made what can be the hardest and most dangerous decision for victims of domestic violence – they left. “I guess I sort of snapped out of it and I thought ‘something's going to happen’, and my older sister and my mum were thinking the same thing too,” says Arman.

But the nightmare did not end there. In episode eight, Arman reveals that one year after leaving, as the family was rebuilding, tragedy struck. “I kind of felt that life was hard prior to that. And then once that incident took place then I thought well, now life’s slowly getting harder,” he says. “Nevertheless, the glass is always half-full and we knew that we had a bit of an uphill battle to get through.”

In episode eight of The Few Who Do, hear how Arman used the tragedy to co-found an organisation tackling violence against women by providing them with economic freedom. He tells co-hosts Jan Fran and Marc Fennell about how the Zahra Foundation is providing financial education and small funding grants to women, so they can escape an abusive situation, build confidence and regain control of their lives. 

Statistics on violence against women in Australia are staggering. In 2018, 69 women were murdered — almost all by men they knew. Since 2015, one in six women have suffered physical and/or sexual violence by a partner. On top of this, one in three women in Australia aged 18-64 have experienced sexual harassment at home, work and on the street.

And it’s often those more subtle cases of abuse – like harassment on the street – that are largely under-reported. Zoe Condliffe wants to change that. She’s the founder of the She’s a Crowd app. Zoe, like Arman, is passionate about stamping out violence against women. But her approach is different. She’s tackling sexual harassment and assault in public spaces by creating an app to document those incidences – turning stories into hard data. Kind of like Google Maps for street harassment. “We don't even think to report something like catcalling which might happen to you every week, every month. You would never ever consider going to the police over that. So who's recording this stuff?” Zoe Condliffe tells The Few Who Do.

In episode eight, she speaks about how she lived out of her van to save money for her startup. A four by three meter space where she slept, ate, worked and chilled. “It was the craziest year of my life,” Zoe says. “Everyone says starting a startup is hard and you're gonna have to make sacrifices,” she says.

By night Zoe was sleeping in a van, but by day she was meeting with high-rolling executives from Google and LinkedIn (to name a few), pitching, brokering partnerships and getting customers. In episode eight, Zoe speaks about the challenge of convincing a room full of men to care about a woman being catcalled on a pushbike. “It's intimidating and exhausting and it's one of the hardest things about what I do,” she says.

But the female tech founder shows what can happen when you combine drive, passion and knowledge. She also reveals the personal story that’s influenced her mission.

“My ultimate goal for She's a Crowd is that anywhere in the world any person can share their story and their story can be taken seriously and used as data to inform preventative change,” she says.

To hear more, listen to episode eight of The Few Who Do, hosted by Jan Fran and Marc Fennell.

And if you or someone you know is experiencing family and domestic violence, you can contact the Womensline on 1800 811 811, or 1800RESPECT. Call 000 if you are in danger.

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Over 16 episodes, Marc and Jan will tackle the big questions in society and culture today, and hear personal stories from Australians with big ambitions, entrepreneurs and small business owners advocating for change.

Because there is often more than one approach to our biggest problems, each episode Marc and Jan will delve into different possibilities and get to know the people behind the ideas.

 

LISTEN TO EPISODE 8

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Introducing 'The Few Who Do'

Two hosts, one problem, two possibilities...

Presented by Jan Fran and Marc Fennell 'The Few Who Do' tackles the big questions in society and culture today.

Whose responsibility is it to make our streets safe for women? How will we support a growing population with dwindling food resources?

We’ll hear personal stories from Australians with big ambitions, entrepreneurs and small business owners advocating for change.

The Few Who Do is an SBS podcast with CGU Insurance.

Dropping into your feed March 1

 

Upcoming episodes of The Few Who Do will examine

  • Why isn’t there equal pay for equal play?

No women feature in the 2018 Forbes top 100 sports earners, not even the top female earner, Serena Williams – she earns 5 million less than the list’s number 100.

  • How do we secure our food future?

Global population is predicted to hit 10 billion by 2050. Coupled with extreme weather patterns caused by climate change, our daily meals will look a little different.

Two Hosts, One Problem, Two Possibilities


 

This podcast is brought to you by CGU Insurance, who have been proudly backing the ambitions of Aussie Small Businesses for over 165 years. VisitCGU.com.au to find out how CGU can back you.