The Pixel Project’s annual selection of films, documentaries and television shows that raise awareness about violence against women has been a fixture in our annual “16 For 16” campaign from the very beginning. We firmly believe that the “Show, Not Tell” principle is one of the most powerful ways to create a connection between the movement to end violence against women and the person on the street who might not have even given this human rights issue a thought before. Film and television are some of the best tools that activists and educators have at their disposal to shape and galvanise public opinion and action to prevent and stop violence against women (VAW) in their communities remains strong.
This year, our selection entirely comprises VAW documentaries of all lengths, shapes and sizes. The VAW topics they tackle show just how wide-ranging and entrenched VAW is in communities and cultures across the world – honour killing, female genital mutilation and rape are some of the prominent topics highlighted. India, in particular, takes the spotlight after the horrifying rape and murder of university student Jyoti Singh Pandey in Delhi.
We hope that this year’s diverse selection will provide a thought-provoking range of resources to help you kick start discussions about VAW that break the wall of silence and taboo in your community.
It’s time to stop violence against women. Together.
“Eden” is based on the harrowing true story of sex trafficking survivor, Eden, a young Korean-American girl, who was abducted near her home and forced into prostitution by a domestic human and drug trafficking ring. Throughout the two years she is held, Eden reluctantly ensures her own survival by carving out power and influence within the very organization that has imprisoned her.
“FGM in the UK” is The Pixel Project’s first mini documentary and focuses on the issue of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in the UK. The documentary features Integrate Bristol, an anti-FGM group and is aimed at raising awareness about what FGM is, how this form of Violence Against Women is being tackled in the UK and ideas for preventing, detecting and stopping FGM in the country.
Two filmmakers spent almost a decade reporting the greatest taboo subject in Kurdish society: female genital mutilation. Nabaz Ahmed and Shara Amin persuaded people to talk about the effects of FGM and the film they made helped get the practice outlawed in 2011. And in the last few years the number of girls being mutilated in Kurdistan has fallen by over 60%. The story of their decade-long fight against FGM has been made into a documentary by the Guardian and BBC Arabic. (Summary courtesy of The Guardian)
Fighting the Silence (2007) is a documentary made by Ilse and Femke van Velzen to tell the story of ordinary Congolese women and men who are struggling to change their society: one that prefers to blame victims rather than prosecute rapists. Rape survivors and their families speak out openly about the suffering they endured because their culture considers women second class citizens and rape as a taboo. They give voice to thousands of other survivors and their families who have chosen to hide their grief and remain silent for fear of being rejected by their families and community.
Following the brutal Delhi Gang Rape, 28-year-old British Asian Radha Bedi travels to India to uncover the reality of life for young women there. Whilst filming the documentary, she met many brave young girls and women willing to share their personal experiences of harassment and violence and discovers that it all boils down to the fact that they were born female.
Schoolgirl Aqsa Parvez, sisters Amina and Sarah Said, and college student Fauzia Muhammad were all North American teenagers—and victims of premeditated, murderous attacks by male family members. Only Muhammad survived. Emmy® winner Shelley Saywell examines each case in depth in this riveting investigation of “honor killings” of girls in Muslim immigrant families. Not sanctioned by Islam, the brutalization and violence against young women for defying male authority derives from ancient tribal notions of honour and family shame. (Summary courtesy of Women Make Movies)
In Southern India, family disputes are settled by Jamaats—all male bodies which apply Islamic Sharia law to cases without allowing women to be present, even to defend themselves. Recognizing this fundamental inequity, a group of women in 2004 established a women’s Jamaat, which soon became a network of 12,000 members spread over 12 districts. Despite enormous resistance, they have been able to settle more than 8,000 cases to date, ranging from divorce to wife beating to brutal murders and more. Award-winning filmmaker Deepa Dhanraj (SOMETHING LIKE A WAR) follows several cases, shining a light on how the women’s Jamaat has acquired power through both communal education and the leaders’ persistent, tenacious and compassionate investigation of the crimes. (Summary courtesy of Women Make Movies)
“Justice For Sale” follows the young, courageous Congolese human rights lawyer Claudine Tsongo who refuses to accept that justice is indeed “For Sale” in her country. When she investigates the case of a soldier convicted of rape, she becomes convinced his trial was unfair and uncovers a system where the basic principles of law are ignored—and when the system fails, everyone becomes a victim. The documentary not only provides a glimpse into the failings of the Congolese judicial system but also raises questions about the role of the international community and non-governmental organizations in reforming it. Does their financial support cause justice to be for sale? And who pays the price? (Summary courtesy of Women Make Movies)
This powerful documentary by Kim Longinetto chronicles the story of Sampat Pal and how she went from an abused underaged bride and daughter-in-law to the founder and leader of the Pink Saris (the Gulabi Gang) – a grassroots movement of women in Uttar Pradesh determined to mete out justice to the men and families who abuse, batter, torment and murder them with impunity.
“Power and Control: Domestic Violence in America” is a documentary about domestic abuse in the U.S. context and offers a probing and intimate exploration of the troubling persistence of violence against women in America. The 2008/2009 economic crisis has contributed to a sharp increase in domestic violence around the country.
“Quest For Honour” investigates the still prevalent practice of honor killing in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq. The alarming rise in the heinous act of men killing daughters, sisters and wives who threaten “family honor,” endangers tens of thousands of women in Iraq, Turkey, Jordan and adjoining countries. The Women’s Media Center of Suleymaniyah, Iraq, has joined forces with Iraq’s Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) to end this practice. (Adapted from a summary by Women Make Movies)
“Rape In The Fields” is a documentary by PBS about the hidden reality of rape, sexual harassment and violence faced by many immigrant women in the U.S. agricultural industry, especially illegal immigrants eking out a living on farms.
Rapper, singer and activist, Sister Fa is a survivor of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), she tackles the issue by starting a grassroots campaign, “Education Without Excision,” which uses her music as a vehicle to bring her message about ending FGM to communities still plagued by it. “Sarabah” follows Sister Fa on her challenging journey, where she speaks out and sings out to all generations in affected communities to bring about change.
“Señorita Extraviada, Missing Young Woman” tells the haunting story of the more than 350 kidnapped, raped and murdered young women of Juárez, Mexico. Visually poetic, yet unflinching in its gaze, this compelling investigation unravels the layers of complicity that have allowed for the brutal murders of women living along the Mexico-U.S. border. In the midst of Juárez’s international mystique and high profile job market, there exists a murky history of grossly underreported human rights abuses and violence against women. The climate of violence and impunity continues to grow, and the murders of women continue to this day. (Summary courtesy of Women Make Movies)
This short documentary, funded by the National Film Board of Canada, looks at the witch-hunts that swept through Europe just a few hundred years ago. False accusations and trials led to massive torture and burnings at the stake, and ultimately to the destruction of an organic way of life. The film advances the theory that widespread violence against women and the neglect of our environment today can be traced back to those times.
Selection Number 16: Violence Against Women in Haiti: The Enemy Within
In this short documentary by UNIFEM (now UN Women) that is narrated by internationally renowned TV journalist Daljit Dhaliwal, this 21st Century short documentary goes deep into Haiti’s makeshift camps to expose acts of violence and sexual assaults women, especially young girls, have encountered since the country’s devastating earthquake in January left 1.5 million homeless. While measures are being taken by, for instance, the Haitian National Police, UN police and UN Women, to curb such type of violence, this video underscores what has yet to be done to ensure the safety of women and girls as Haiti continues to build itself back from the ground up.