I saw that TVO aired a documentary entitled The World Before Her but unfortunately, I wasn’t able to watch it. It’s a Canadian documentary film written and directed by Nisha Pahuja and released in 2012. The film explores the complex and conflicting environment for young girls in India by profiling two young women participating in two very different types of training camp — Ruhi Singh, who aspires to become Miss India, and Prachi Trivedi, a militant Hindu nationalist with the Durga Vahini.
The film won the awards for Best Canadian Feature at the 2012 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival and Best Documentary Feature at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival, and was a nominee for Best Feature Length Documentary at the 2013 Canadian Screen Awards.
Here’s the trailer:
You can watch the entire video as it aired on TVO at this link: http://ww3.tvo.org/video/191988/world-her
You can visit The World Before Her website at http://www.worldbeforeher.com
Notes to Women encourages you to watch this film which captures the choices and contradictions that young women in India are facing today. Imagine being chased down and beaten because you are seen with a man in public or are caught in a bar. Imagine while you are in grade 7, to teach you a lesson for lying about completing your homework, your father burned your foot with a hot iron rod and as a result you suffer for a month from the painful blister that formed. How would you feel if your father referred to you as “our product”? This is the reality for the women in India.
As you watch this film, be mindful that these women are not enjoying the same rights as you are. If you have a career, be thankful. If you have a father who is supportive of you and whatever career path or degree you want to pursue, be grateful. We all want to live in a society where girls and women are valued, respected and treated equally. India is a male dominated society and that needs to change. Until that happens, let us continue to stand with our sisters in India and raise our voices against inequality, violence against women, oppression and gendercide.
It’s hard to see people use religion to perpetuate violence against others who don’t share their beliefs. It’s especially hard to see young Hindu girls carrying guns and knives as they marched down the streets of India and chanted, “Mark your foreheads with blood and welcome your enemies with bullets.” Who are their enemies? Muslims and Christians whom they believed have ruined the Hindu religion. One girl was clear about their mission–”we will use our guns and kill people. We will never let them take our India.” These girls are graduates of the Durga Vahini, a militant training camp for girls.
The Indian government believes that that these camps are promoting terrorism and is trying to ban them. Personally, I find the idea of children carrying weapons and talking about killing people very, very disturbing. This world is already a very violent place, we don’t need any more blood shed in the name of religion.
Last month, my husband and I watched this documentary about women veterans who bore the scars of war. They suffered from post traumatic stress syndrome, sexual assault, rape and homelessness. CPL (ret.) Sue Downes lost both of her legs and was struggling to get the help she needed to integrate back into life. She had her legs blown off above the knees and she got no support from the government. We watch these women as they struggled to regain their lives–normalcy. There was nothing there for them. There were no jobs–most of them are incapable of finding jobs. They had psychological problems. They were physically disabled.
It was hard to watch these women who served their country–the double amputee went through both Iraq wars–not getting the support in integrating back into civilian life. One woman who had a psychological problem and it took three months for her to be assigned to an officer who would actually listen to her case. One woman who was physically injured and didn’t want to be a burden to her husband, was yelled at because she had a service dog in a grocery store. Sue Downes encountered problems when she went into a fast food place with her service dog.
It was heartbreaking to see that one of these incredible women still felt like a failure in spite of the fact that she was doing her Masters after completing her Undergraduate Studies. It was encouraging though, to see two of the women who suffered from psychological problems take charge of their lives by venturing out instead of being isolated in their homes. One of them who graduated from college.
I watched a documentary on the rape and sexual assault of women in the US military on Independent Lens and the lack of support they receive. They are treated like they are the criminals and it broke my heart to see one woman’s husband actually break down and cry because his wife was raped by her commanding officer and his friend. The women who tried to file reports on what happened were made to feel that what happened was their fault. One was criticized for the way she was dressed. Another was told that she would ruined the life of the man who raped her–he was married.
Many of these rape victims find themselves forced to choose between speaking up and keeping their careers. Very few cases that are reported are prosecuted. Women are left with the shame of what happened to them and not being taken seriously. Their rights are violated again when they come forward with their stories and they are reprimanded or treated like the enemy. These women who gave their lives to serve the military have to struggle to rebuild their lives and fight for justice.
I hope that bringing to light this shameful secret of the US military and the stories of these brave women in the Oscar and Emmy nominated documentary, “The Invisible War” will make a difference. “We hope the film will affect lasting changes in the way the military investigates and prosecutes sexual assault crimes and supports and cares for assault survivors,” said Kirby Dick. To that end, “The Invisible War” is a call for our civilian and military leadership to listen — and to act.
To find out more about the makers of this movie, check out their website at http://servicethefilm.com/filmmakers.php
I hope that those of you who have not watched the movie, will find a way to do so and spread the word.
I saw this on WordPress and just had to share it. This documentary deals with the very disturbing and heartbreaking topic of gendercide. Imagine that being a girl in some parts in the world can be fatal. Imagine being a girl brings death to many innocent babies. Girls are devalued and seen as a burden to their families. Boys are given preference. When will those who murder baby girls realize that they are jeopardizing the future of their boys and their country? If they continue to get rid of girls, the boys will have no one to marry when they grow up. And how will they be able to bring into the world the boy babies they are so desperate to have?
Something must be done to stop this senseless act of gender killing. Girls are precious and valuable. They too are gifts from a heavenly Father who created both men and women in His image. In His eyes we are equals.
We need to speak out and continue to raise awareness of gendercide. In my opinion gendercide is a criminal act and the governments of China and India should treat it as such. Those who kill and abort girl babies should be arrested and charged with murder. This has been going on for too long and it’s time these governments take action and protect the rights of these innocent victims.
On their website, Causes.com explains that the “It’s a Girl” campaign is all about empowering activists to help tell the world that gendercide is real, it’s happening now, and there is something that all of us can do to put an end to it. Here are all the steps you can take to get involved with the movement:
To fight gendercide in China:
- Sign the petition urging world leaders to help end forced abortions, sterilizations, and coercive family planning under the One Child Policy in China
- Donate to Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, an organization fighting gendercide on the ground in China.
To fight gendercide in India:
- Sign the petition demanding that the Indian government take immediate and effective action to protect its female citizens.
- Donate to Invisible Girl Project, an organization with multiple initiatives to save young girls and provide for their basic needs in India.
To pledge your support to the “It’s a Girl” campaign:
- Take the pledge to take a stand against gendercide.
Take action now and join the fight against gendercide. The future of girls in China and India are at stake.
I wanted to share this email from Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, the first Pakistani woman to win an Oscar for her film Saving Face in 2012 and one of TIME Magazine’s most influencial people of the world.
A lot has happened since the Academy Awards in February in LA…I have begun work on a new series of documentary films which are being aired for the first time on TV Channels across Pakistan-
In a unique partnership with Coca-Cola, my production company SOC Films has launched a 6 part documentary series titled “Ho Yaqeen” featuring Pakistanis doing extraordinary things and transforming their communities.
The first episode of the series launched 2 weeks ago: Please do tune in to watch it, links are below:
Please do share these links with friends and family….
In other news, i was very fortunate to have been named by Time Magazine as one of the 100 most Influential people in the world- (http://goo.gl/OFVhZ)
This positive reinforcement helps us get the message of our Academy Award winning film Saving Face out.
As more episodes of Ho Yaqeen become available i shall send them out on this mailing list. I am also involved in two more exciting documentary ventures outside of Pakistan which i shall share with you later in the summer….
All my very best
You can check out Sharmeen’s website at: http://sharmeenobaidfilms.com/bio/ I will keep you posted on Sharmeen’s exciting ventures.
MAMA: Motherhood Around the Globe, explores the realities and ideas of a new global generation of mothers through art, stories, and powerful new voices. The exhibition aims to turn inspiration into action helping fuel a worldwide movement of advocates for mothers’ human rights and advances in maternal health. Just recently I got an email from them to vote for our favorite community piece. The voting ended February 29. The finalists were very impressive. They were as follows:
- Mother of Mothers, Andre Lambertson & Kwame Dawes (US/Haiti):This visual poem celebrates the strength that many Haitian mothers have displayed in the wake of the devastating 2010 earthquake.
- Mr. Mom, Zsuzsanna Geller-Varga (Hungary): This documentary follows a family in Hungary where the father stays home as caretaker and the mother is the primary breadwinner.
- Birthmarkings, Margaret Lazarus (US): Margaret Lazarus’ film “BirthMarkings” explores our post birth bodies—and how our self-image—change after giving birth.
- Born in Bangladesh, Chantal Anderson (US/India): This photo essay shows the mothers and children of Bangladesh, where extreme poverty reigns but maternal health has improved in recent years.
- Protective Custody: Within a Prison Nursery, Cheryl Hanna-Truscott (US): This photo series looks at a unique option offered by Washington State, USA to imprisoned mothers and their children.
- Breakdown in the Closet, Humaira Abid (US/Pakistan): Humaira Abid depicts the pain and disappointment that comes along with miscarriage in her intricate wooden sculptures.
Each of these stories represents an important, and unique, aspect of motherhood around the globe. I voted for Birthmarkings because it explores self-image and how our bodies change after we have children. Some women feel self-conscious and unattractive. I never felt unattractive because of my husband. He always made me feel beautiful. My self-image after birth has not changed. My changed body is a reminder for me of how blessed I am to be a mother.
The winner of this competition is Humaira Abid’s Breakdown in the Closet. What a concept. Six wooden hangers in a closet–two of them bare. These two hangers depict the pain and disappointment that comes along with miscarriage—a frequently unspoken part of many women’s experiences of pregnancy and motherhood. The clothes look so real. It’s hard to believe that they are made of wood. We see the mother’s dress and the father’s pants and shirts. This is a family wardrobe. A husband and wife are expecting a child but tragedy strikes. On the floor between the mother’s and the father’s clothes, we notice something that stands out in sharp contrast–the red baby shirt. This is meant to represent the mother’s miscarriage and both parents’ loss.
Humaira explains that this work is a part of a series called “RED” named such because the color red represents love, passion, blood, anger, and loss–all strong emotions. Yes in the subcontinent, red is the traditional color of bridal dresses, and often is associated with love, sexuality, and fertility. Yet in some parts of Africa, red is a color of mourning and death-often associated with the color of blood. She herself suffered from miscarriages so she knows how tough this can take both a physical and emotional toll on women.
As the winner, Humaira Abid receives a US$1,000 prize, with $500 going to the artist and $500 going to a nonprofit charity of her choice! Notes to Women congratulate this amazing artist who uses her work to a very painful experience for women. Unfortunately miscarriage is very common, occurring in about one in five pregnancies. Some women feel a strong sense of guilt, even though it is not their fault. These are natural reactions.
Breakdown in the Closet brilliantly and skillfully addresses a topic that is very difficult for women. Humaira’s work recognized internationally for its originality and excellence has earned her a gold medal. Her work has been exhibited in Malaysia, India, Mauritius, Nepal, Kenya, Dubai, Bolivia, Germany, Russia, UK and USA. Humaira graduated from National College of Arts Lahore, Pakistan with Honors in the year 2000. She majored in Sculpture, with Miniature as her double minor. We salute this internationally renown artist who uses her art to take action against the issue of gender inequality. Brava Humaira.
We are pleased to announce that last month Humaira had her first child. Congratulations, Humaira. We wish mother and baby all the best.
If you are interested in seeing more of Humaira’s art, check out her website at: http://www.humaira.com.pk/
I am from a country and society where showing your emotions and expressing your opinion is not welcomed–especially if you are a woman. Many experiences and roles of women are not properly appreciated. They are simply considered to be their duty or part of life.
I am trying to raise these issues through my work, which counters the stereotypical image of women in a male dominated society. In an environment where women have a considerable way to go to become full partners of men, I want my work to reflect the aspiration for gender equality.
I was thrilled last night when I saw the documentary, Saving Face win the Oscar. It was a proud moment for Canadian Pakistani filmmaker, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy as she made history as Pakistan’s first Oscar winner. Chinoy hopes that this Oscar win will ignite a flourishing film industry in Pakistan.
Saving Face is a documentatry about acid attacks. The film follows London-based Pakistani plastic surgeon, Dr. Mohammad Jawad, as he journeys to Pakistan to perform reconstructive surgery on survivors of acid violence. Saving Face also broaches the subject of the under-reporting of acid violence due to cultural and structural inequalities towards women. The film also features two women attacked by acid and their struggle for justice and healing. The Acid Survivors Foundation of Pakistan, which is featured in the film, had documented over 100 acid attacks a year in Pakistan but estimates far more due to lack of reporting.
Obaid-Chinoy has also stated that the film is “a positive story about Pakistan on two accounts: firstly, it portrays how a Pakistani-British doctor comes to treat them and it also discusses, in great depth, the parliament’s decision to pass a bill on acid violence”. Obaid-Chinoy has also said that the film assisted in the trial and conviction of one of the perpretrators of acid violence on a female victim.
“I am so grateful for the Academy’s recognition of this film and the issues highlighted here. No-one who sees these women could fail to be moved. Each beautiful in their own way, their lives have been destroyed, their faces and bodies disfigured, often by members of their own families,” Jawad said following the film’s success at the 84th Academy Awards. “They are the real heroes here. They have been ostracised from society following the terrible attacks that have been inflicted upon them. I merely try to restore God’s creation, which has been destroyed by such evil acts of human beings, in the best way I know how. I hope that awareness of the cause will help to eradicate this beast of a man-made disease from society,” Jawad said.
Sharmeen Obaid was born in Karachi attended the Karachi Grammar School. She graduated from Smith College with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Government and fromStanford Uni with master’s degrees in International Policy Studies and in Communication.Obaid-Chinoy is an Emmy award winning producer and journalist. She won an Emmy for her documentary, Pakistan: Children of the Taliban in 2010. She is also the first non-American to win the Livingston Award for Young Journalists.
Her career in documentary began when she examined the plight of Afghani refugee children in Pakistan for one of her articles. Their situation was so dire, and their stories so compelling, that Sharmeen decided to return to Pakistan and create a film about them. She petitioned Smith College and New York Times Television production division for the grants that would allow her to accomplish her goals. Intrigued by her story, both organizations gave her the funds as well as production equipment and training. She is currently a faculty member at media sciences department in SZABIST (Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and technology, Karachi). Obaid-Chinoy is also on the board member of The Citizens Archive of Pakistan (CAP).
Known for documentaries dealing with life in the Muslim world, Obaid became the first non-American to win the Livingston Award. Her films have aired on such networks as Channel 4,CNN, PBS, and Al-Jazeera. She began her career with New York Times Television in 2002 where she produced Terror’s Children, a film about Afghan refugee children, which won her the Overseas Press Club Award, the American Women and Radio and Television Award, and the South Asian Journalist Association Award. Since then, she has produced and reported on more than twelve films around the world.
Obaid produced and reported on four multi-award winning documentary films for New York Times Television. In 2003, Reinventing the Taliban was awarded the Special Jury Award at the BANFF TV festival in Canada, the CINE Golden Eagle Award, the American Women in Radio and Television award, and the Livingston Award. In 2005, her film Women of the Holy Kingdom, which provided an inside look at the women’s movement in Saudi Arabia, won the South Asian Journalist Association Award.
In 2005, Obaid began working with Channel 4 in the United Kingdom reporting on four films for their Unreported World series. Pakistan’s Double Game looked at sectarian violence in Pakistan, City of Guilt explored the Catholic Church’s pro-life movement in the Philippines, The New Apartheid looked into growing xenophobia in South Africa, and Birth of a Nationdelved into the politics of East Timor. In 2007, Obaid was named “journalist of the year” by the One World Media awards for her work in the series.
In 2007, Obaid travelled to Afghanistan and reported for Channel 4 and CNN. Her film, Afghanistan Unveiled/Lifting the Veil, focuses on stalled reconstruction and the repression of women in the country.
Acid throwing (acid attack or vitriolage) is a form of violent assault. It is defined as the act of throwing acid onto the body of a person “with the intention of injuring or disfiguring him or her out of jealousy or revenge”. Perpetrators of these attacks throw acid at their victims, usually at their faces, burning them, and damaging skin tissue, often exposing and sometimes dissolving the bones. The long term consequences of these attacks include blindness and permanent scarring of the face and body. These attacks are most common in Cambodia, Afghanistan, India, Bangladesh,Pakistan and other nearby countries. According to Taru Bahl and M.H. Syed, 80% of victims of these acid attacks are female and almost 70% are under 18 years of age.
According to New York Times reporter Nicholas D. Kristof, acid attacks are at an all time high in Pakistan and increasing every year. The Pakistani attacks he describes are typically the work of husbands against their wives who have “dishonored them”.
Obaid-Chinoy’s win has been the cause for celebration in her home country. Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani announced that Obaid-Chinoy would be receiving a civil award for her achievements on Monday, according to the Associated Press. She is the first Pakistani to win an Oscar.
She dedicated her Oscar to “all the women in Pakistan working for change. Don’t give up on your dreams. This is for you.”
Saving Face airs March 8 on HBO Canada.
Notes to Women congratulates this remarkable woman whose passion for sharing stories of women and children and their plight has earned her the recognition she deserves. Sharmeen, you made your country and women around the world very proud.
Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saving_Face_(documentary); http://ca.news.yahoo.com/canadian-pakistani-filmmaker-nabs-oscar-documentary-short-acid-160219303.html; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sharmeen_Obaid-Chinoy; http://sharmeenobaidfilms.com/; http://www.dawn.com/2012/02/27/the-victims-are-the-real-heroes.html; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acid_throwing; http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/pakistan/120227/saving-face-oscar-winner-sharmeen-obaid-chinoy-ce
Mental illness is something that not many people feel comfortable talking about–at least from where I came from. I didn’t know that people suffered from depression or bi-polar disorder. In Guyana we used to see people walking around, dishevelled, shaking their fists and shouting and we stayed clear of them. They were simply called mad people. Now I realize that these people could have been suffering from mental illness and were not getting the care they needed.
I came from a society where people kept things to themselves. No one liked to talk about private matters. So I was stunned when I came to North America and watched talk shows where people talked freely about very personal things. They spoke about their relationships, sometimes giving very intimate details. They spoke openly mental illness, addictions, abuse, etc. It was therapeutic for them. They could finally face up to what they had and deal with it. I never knew that a few members of my family suffered from mental illness until years later. I didn’t see any signs. People were good at hiding things.
Mental illness is not to be feared or dismissed or swept under the rug. It is something that we need to talk and educate ourselves about. We need to understand what it’s all about so that we can offer better support to our loved ones and friends who have had to live with the stigma all their lives. Bi-polar disorder is something I have become very familiar with. People close to me have it and I have seen what happens when they come off of their medication. It is very upsetting and unsettling. They are not the same people. They do things that they wouldn’t ordinarily do. They dress differently. They are either manic or depressed. They spend money on things they can’t afford. They become paranoid. They believe that someone is out to hurt them. They seem to have a beef with certain people. They might get themselves in trouble with the law. They end up in hospital where they stay for a while. Sometimes they are discharged before they should be. The more often they come off of their medication, the longer it takes for them to get back on track.
It’s a vicious cycle. Their families get tired of it. They wonder why their loved ones don’t stay on their medication so that they don’t wind up in the psychiatric ward. That part of the hospital is depressing. I can’t imagine that it’s conducive for the patients.
February 8, 2012 is Bell Let’s Talk Day. Canadians are invited to join Bell in the conversation about mental health by talking, calling, texting or retweeting. For every text message and long distance call made by Bell and Bell Aliant customers on this day, Bell will donate 5 cents to mental health programs. Bell also launched this year’s Let’s Talk Community Fund. This community fund is part of the Bell Mental Health Initiative, a $50 million multi-year national program in support of mental health. Through the Community Fund, Bell will provide grants of $5,000 to $50,000 to organizations, hospitals and agencies focused on improving access to mental health care and making a positive impact in their communities from coast-to-coast-to-coast.
The Let’s Talk campaign is a testimony to Bell’s commitment to fight the stigma of around mental illness. The spokesperson is Clara Hughes, the only athlete in history to win multiple medals in Winter and Summer Olympics.
Every time I saw Clara Hughes, she had a huge smile on her face. I never imagined that behind that smile was a dark and lonely place for the six-time Olympic medallist. For two years she battled depression. She is proud to be the spokesperson for Let’s Talk. She speaks openly about her own struggles with depression which began after she won two bronze medals in cycling at the 1996 Olympics. Read about her story. The struggle is still there for her as it is for others with mental illness. The good thing is that it’s out in the open. It is not a battle that they are facing alone. Hughes’ goal is “open up the dialogue” for Canadians struggling with mental illness. On February 8 she will be joined by singer-songwriter Stefie Shock and actor-comedian Michel Mpambara who share their own stories of struggle and recovery.
Hughes is making a huge difference in this campaign. Last year Canadians responded to her call with a total of over 66 million messages and long distance calls. This year marks the second annual Let’s Talk Day. The goal is to beat last year’s total.
On Wednesday, February 8, take action–talk, call, text messages. Watch the new documentary Darkness and Hope: Depression, Sports and Me hosted by TSN personality and ‘Off The Record’ host Michael Landsberg airing on CTV at 7 p.m. ET and CTV Mobile. Help to support this campaign that will make mental illness visible and remove its stigma.
If you are interested in being a part of Let’s Talk Day or need more information, visit Bell’s website.
A lot of people don’t realize that depression is an illness. I don’t wish it on anyone, but if they would know how it feels, I swear they would think twice before they just shrug it.
Sources: http://www.clara-hughes.com/; http://www.cbc.ca/sports/olympics/story/2011/02/06/sp-hughes-q-a.html; http://www.cbc.ca/sports/hockey/story/2011/02/06/sp-hughes-q-a.html; Read more: http://www.ctv.ca/CTVNews/Health/20100921/bell-mental-health-00921/#ixzz1lNRfQCMF