Polish teenager Krystyna Paszko, 18, has always been interested in human rights, long-serving as a leader in her scouting troop. When she learned that domestic violence rates have been rising since the pandemic, she decided to put her leadership skills toward good.
The high school student created a fake Facebook page for an imaginary cosmetics company called “Chamomile and Pansies,” with the idea that a domestic violence victim can hide requests for help by appearing to be simply shopping online.
She was inspired by an initiative she heard about in France, where people visit the pharmacy and ask for a special mask, letting the pharmacist know that they are a victim of domestic violence.
On “Chamomile and Pansies,” a victim requests to buy a cream, with a psychologist responding instead of a salesperson. They will inquire how long the “shopper” has had “skin problems,” or if the affected skin reacts to alcohol. If an order is placed and an address is provided, it is code for authorities to visit their home.
Paszko didn’t start with high expectations for the page, but it has grown and exceeded her intentions. When she shared her plans on her personal Facebook page, she was quickly overwhelmed by questions, comments, and inquiries.
If you are in quarantine or isolation with a toxic or violent partner, write to the fictitious shop ‘Rumianki i Bratki naturalne kosmetyki sklep’ or send an email to [email protected] with a question about natural cosmetics for the body, and I will start checking on you… If you place an order and give your address, we will call the police”Krystyna Paszko
When her post garnered so much interest, Paszko contacted the Women’s Rights Centre, a Polish NGO, asking for assistance. In turn, they provided psychologists and lawyers to work with the website.
“I thought it would only be for my friends, and friends of friends. I thought I would help maybe one person or two, but the shares on Facebook were big and it became really popular.”Krystyna Paszko
Since its launch in April 2020, the Facebook page has helped more than 350 people. The BBC reports that most of the victims are young, under 40, and about 10% are male.
The teen credits her involvement with scouting for her passion for human rights, and now she is being rewarded for her life-saving idea, winning the honor of the EU’s Civil Solidarity Prize
Paszko and her team intend to continue their efforts with “Chamomile and Pansies.”