One of the most useful awareness-raising and educational tools at our disposal is the craft of film. To portray the real experiences and lives of individuals—particularly women who suffer tragedy, abuse, and revival—is something not to be taken for granted. It is just one way to open public consciousness and heighten awareness to the breadth of the issue of violence against women worldwide.
However, it is common for filmmakers to use violence against women as shock value or to be gratuitous, implying that such violence is either blithe or exemplary.Such portrayals further perpetuate the notion that sexual assault and other forms of gender-based violence are a non-issue when in reality, they affect 1 in 3 women worldwide. Films that depict the violence girls and women experience in their daily lives are a great step towards building a better tomorrow simply by recognising the reality of today.
Many of the following films can be found online, which is yet another reason why video is a vital avenue for discussing worldwide and community issues like violence. Video-streaming sites like YouTube and Vimeo allow people to upload their own work or that of others, thus reaching a broader audience and bringing the conversation home. We hope that our 2014 selection of 16 documentaries show just how important film can be in advocating for the truth of these issues, enlightening audiences, and hopefully enabling others to join the fight to end violence against women.
Casablanca Calling is a 2014 documentary that showcases the social revolution slowly occurring in Morocco where approximately 60% of women have never been to school. Despite political conflict, Moroccan women are being trained for the first time to be leaders. The film follows these women as they circulate in schools and other sites, speaking on marriage, education, and employment. In doing so, the film highlights the promise of change and indicates the importance of empowerment among girls and women.
The Oscar-winning documentary Defending Our Lives emphasises the seriousness and prevalence of domestic violence in the United States. The video features the testimonies of battered women who have been imprisoned for killing their husbands. The women in the film are members of ‘Battered Women Fighting Back, ’ an organisation formed initially as a prison support group but expanded into a community-based task force. Each woman who appears in this video has experienced domestic violence firsthand via stalking, harassment, and abuse by their husbands and partners. The video focuses on how these women defended their lives and were subsequently put behind bars for it.
TRIGGER WARNING: There are images that may be distressing for survivors of domestic violence.
Duma was a controversial documentary about the abuse women face in Palestinian and Arab societies. It is regarded as the first film to fully document and shed light upon the sexual abuse women face in Arab society. The documentary features women and the experiences they have endured at the hands of friends and family as well as the resulting silence imposed upon them. By giving voice to these perspectives, the film not only reveals the abuse but gives hope to survivors that they will no longer be silenced.
In the 2008 film Heaven On Earth, a young Indian Punjab woman moves to Ontario, Canada, for an arranged marriage to an Indo-Canadian man. However, her husband is an abuser who continues to isolate her after she has already left behind her community in India. The film explores a real problem for immigrants who are victims of domestic violence as they struggle not only to find resources but also ways to communicate what is occurring in their home lives.
Simply by being female, girls are more likely to be subjected to poverty, violence, disease, and other disadvantages. The 2013 film I Am A Girl follows the lives and stories of various young girls and teens as they face forced marriage, pregnancy, and threats against their lives if they seek education. These girls live in places like Cambodia, Australia, New York, and New Guinea, signaling the fact that these issues are faced worldwide.