Tall as the Baobab Tree

I learned about Tall as the Baobab Tree from Human Rights Watch.  This film is about a teenage girl who is determined to rescue her 11 year old sister from an arranged marriage.  Coumba and Debo, sisters who are the first from their family to attend school.  What will happen to Debo’s education if she becomes a child bride?  According to Girls Not Brides, “Child brides usually drop out of school and are denied the opportunity to complete their education, significantly reducing their ability to earn an income and lift themselves and their children out of poverty.”

Evidence shows that girls who marry early often abandon formal education and
become pregnant. Maternal deaths related to pregnancy and childbirth are an
important component of mortality for girls aged 15–19 worldwide, accounting for
70,000 deaths each year (UNICEF, State of the World’s Children,
2009).

Education is key for these girls.  It helps them to avoid early marriage and to fulfill their potential.  Education is the tool they need to advocate for their rights and make them invaluable to their families and communities.  In the words of Greg Mortenson, “Educate a boy, and you educate an individual. Educate a girl, and you educate a community.”  Educate the girls instead of selling them in marriage.  They are more valuable educated than not.

Check out the trailer.

 

To find out more about this film and its director, visit the website at http://tallasthebaobabtree.com/

To learn more about child brides and the places where the practice is prevalent, visit the Girls Not Brides website.  Children should be allowed to be children.  Girls should be allowed to marry when they are of age and are ready.  They should be allowed to marry the men of their choice.  Until then, they should be allowed to attend and stay in school.  Read about the testimonies of former child wives here.

I hope that after you watch the trailer Tall as the Baobab Tree and read the facts about child marriage, that you will be motivated to take action.  It is time to act.  This widespread practice has been going on for far too long and needs to be stopped.  It violates the rights of girls and forces them to take on roles they are not at all ready for.  Marriage is for adults not adults and children.  As a community we need to stand up and defend the rights of those who are being exploited–especially if they are our children.

Source:  http://www.unicef.org/protection/57929_58008.html

The World Before Her

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.

Source:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_World_Before_Her

Women for Afghan Women Video

I recently got an email from Women for Afghan Women (WAW) featuring a video.  The video is produced by Leslie Knott and narrated by Dan Rather.  It shows the impact of WAW in Afghanistan.  “I believe it makes an excellent case for the work of WAW, and will inspire many to support our work” says Manizha Naderi, Executive Director.

Manizha makes the following request:

* Please view the video – it is about 8 minutes long and very compelling.
* Please share the video widely — through email, Facebook, Twitter — with a personal note about your own support of WAW.  And ask people to share it with their community.
* And please consider hosting a small gathering in your home or community.  Show this video and inspire people to make a donation or get involved in some way.

I encourage you to watch the video and then share it.  Find creative ways to help WAW in their work to secure women’s human rights.  To learn more about their work, visit their website at http://www.womenforafghanwomen.org/?gclid=CLv7w7vP7LcCFaxaMgodTwYABg

No Child For Sale Campaign

I saw a commercial for No Child for Sale and made a note of the website address.  I learned that this is World Vision’s campaign to end child slavery.  As a mother, I cannot stand by and watch children be robbed of their rights and freedom.  They are being robbed of their right to life and liberty–the freedom to be children.  Growing up, I didn’t have any cares.  I just enjoyed playing with my friends and toys.  I was allowed to be a kid.  These children should have that same right.  Join the fight to end child slavery.

Check out World Vision’s No Child Should Ever Be For Sale TV campaign and then take action against this travesty and indignity.  Children are human beings and should never ever be for sale.  Spread the word.  Use social media to raise your voice and awareness.  Take a stand.  Help World Vision protect these precious children.  They should be in school not in child labor.  Take action.  Help end child slavery.  Your actions can change lives.

Service: When Women Come Marching Home

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 Warwill 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.

Source:  http://www.marketwire.com/press-release/the-invisible-war-premieres-on-independent-lens-on-monday-may-13-2013-on-pbs-1789562.htm

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