Saturday, April 27, 2013

Film Review: Girl Rising

I haven't been posting and I hate that.  It eats away at me when I realize how long it's been since I've kept up with the blog and written down my thoughts.  Know this, that things are constantly on my mind and I always have the intention of getting them to the blog!

The last update posted about how the film was being screened nationwide for a whole week!  Awesome!  My husband and I were able to attend the screening last Wednesday night after trading babysitting evenings with my brother.  It was a date night + education documentary + week/school night = OMG I feel like I'm breaking the law somewhere!  I'm a wild one, I tell ya!

I was very pleased the that audience, especially for a weeknight, had approx 25-30 people.  All women (except my hubby) and several of them were teens - very encouraging.

Here's my brief review/comments about the film:

*It must be kept in mind that the film was PG-13. 
*Though certain things, like trafficking and sexual assault, were discussed or depicted it was all done in a very non-graphic way.  The "heart-wrenching" parts of the girls' stories was in the introduction and provided some background information, but little time was actually spent on depicting graphic images.
*A lot of time was spent on the positive and uplifting parts of the girls stories.
*It was NOT a documentary that left you feeling angry or depressed - "I need to go out and FIGHT for this cause right now!  Something needs to be done!"..ROAR!  It left you with a positive note on how young girls have changed their lives for the better, despite the continuing struggles, and that there are measures people can take to help.
*I really liked how in between each story the narrator (Liam Neeson) briefly discussed data and statistics about girls education and health worldwide and how education of young girls greatly impacts the overall health and development of communities, locally and nationally.  The facts were not so many to be was "just enough" to get an understanding of the importance.

Overall I liked the movie.  Like I said before, it's rated PG-13.  There were apparently women outside the restroom after the movie that my husband said were discussing how it wasn't "enough" in regards to showing the serious offenses that occur to young girls around the world.  I understand what they're saying - it's a very different feeling watching the film while I'm in the middle of reading "Half the Sky" that discusses the chapter on genital cutting and some of the images that get put in my head are graphic enough that I doubt I need to see it in a documentary!  These were obviously women who read and are educated about the misfortunes of young girls, but they didn't keep in mind the film's audience and that set them up for disappointment.

Honestly, I think it's a GREAT film to use as an introduction to a discussion group/book club/organization.  It's even a great tool to bring into the middle/high school classrooms to introduce real-life events that bring attention to world needs.  It could be a great tool to get students to advocate for fundraising opportunities to help other children. 

What had the greatest impact on me?  It's something I've thought about everyday since the film and something I will likely never find an answer to:

Why is it that a right, like the right to be educated, is taken for granted while there are others in the world who still fight for it because in their world it's considered a privilege?  And how can that be changed?  As a school teacher I cannot believe how many students don't value their education.  I cannot believe how many simply take for granted that their supplies will be provided by them by their peers or teacher - they don't arrive at school without a pen/pencil or paper in hand!  Yet there are children and families around the world who will go without food just to spend the money on a piece of paper or one pencil and those supplies are valued like gold!  Those children don't take a single opportunity to take notes or learn a lesson for granted.  This is my biggest pet peeve and my greatest concern.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

It has to be unacceptable EVERYWHERE!

Anyone in NC has likely heard, in some part, the story of little 3-year old Shaniya Davis.  Her mother admitted handing her over to a grown man for the purpose of sexual abuse in return for paying off a drug debt.  Now the man is being prosecuted for kidnapping, rape, and her murder.  [Now...I'm all for "innocent until proven guilty," but given that the mother has admitted that she knowingly provided her daughter to this man for sexual servitude...little is left to convince me that he's otherwise guilty of at LEAST the rape accusation.]

Rape is a problem in our society. I'm not denying it and I'm not saying our laws or judicial system have handled every case perfectly or that there aren't loopholes that have gotten people out of trouble.  There are women (& men) who battle incestual rape/molestation, marital rape, other domestic violence, etc.  Our culture doesn't have this travesty banished from society.  However, I do believe I can say that the MAJORITY of our society condemns a grown man raping a 3 year old little girl.  And the fact that her own mother handed her over for such a purpose (child-prostitution) is just as much a tragedy.

That's WHY this story is making headlines.  Because it's deemed unacceptable in our society.  It's not only NOT the norm, but it's considered an absolutely despicable crime.

How lucky are we that we live in such a society that actually views this as a crime...a crime important enough to bring to the news?  How sad is it that, even in societies where it might considered horrible, these things happen to women and children regularly and it doesn't make the news?  Such a crime may never even get reported, let alone make it to a courtroom. 

I've been doing reading lately and am far from an expert.  But I want to relate two types of stories I continue to read about.  The first is rape as a war crime.  The second is rape as an intimidation to force young girls into marriage.

There are areas in the world that are experiencing civil wars that make little national news in America.  However, in these countries many local war-parties are turning to rape as war intimidation.  Why fight the men when they can traumatize the women and children and force cooperation?  Women, young girls, and children of ALL ages and of BOTH genders are more fearful of leaving their villages than the men because death might become the men, but worse could befall the rest.  Some of the victims of these villages are no older than little Shaniya Davis, but have we heard their stories?  Do they make their own local or national news?

The other very disturbing type of story is of the male who wishes to marry the virgin female who has refused (or her family has refused) the proposal.  Regardless of the reason why the male wishes to marry or why there is a refusal, refusals are not always taken with acceptance.  Instead, some young women are being kidnapped and raped by the male (maybe gang-raped by his friends/family members also) to show his dominance.  Now that the girl's virginity has been stolen she is shamed along with her family.  The one "acceptable" way to fix the situation is to finally permit marriage between the male and female.

The backgrounds of these people vary, so I'm not calling out any specific culture - the truth is that it's happening too often in too many places.  Even if it's deemed "a crime," or "unacceptable"...somehow it's still EXCUSABLE. There's always one reason or another for it to go without punishment.

Again...not saying that every case in America is handled with such care or attention, but at least when in does get attention you know that there are people out there fighting for the issue to be raised and fighting for the rights of the victims.  Maybe others will disagree, but I believe that at least our laws, judicial system, and the majority of our society see these crimes as inexcusable.

There are people, men and women, fighting these crimes - locally and nationally.  There are organizations trying to bring these situations to the attention of the world.  I'm not saying that we should take attention from the needs and concerns of our own culture...I'm simply suggesting that this CRIME is inexcusable for ALL cultures and if the issue is going to be raised, then be a voice for the victims of the world.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Lean ON - Conference Articles

Brief article/story of a girl who fled her family to stay alive. 

Why should we care?

I just read an article from the News & Observer.  "Red Carpet effect to save the girls."  I found the article online to share [note: the title of the online articles are actually "red-carpet bombing to save..."]

Read here.

It discusses the gathering of celebrities for a good cause.  I was glad that I read the article because it introduced to me some new people, films, and conferences that I want to look into:

- Tina Brown
- the "Women in the World" conference that was just recently held
- a documentary, "Sold," by Jody Hassett Sanchez about human trafficking
- documentary filmaker Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy

The idea behind the summit..."it's about letting girls go to school without risking a bullet to the head.  It's about letting women leave their homes to go to market.  It's about changing cultures that treat women like animals (or worse) and saving them from honor killings and abuse."  Ideas I absolutely support.

The articles also continuously raised thought-provoking questions:

- Why should Americans care?  and

- Why don't more Americans care about honor killings, systematic rape and human trafficking of women, girls and even little boys?

Some suggested answers to the second question:  tragedy fatigue, emotional exhaustion, we have our own challenges, the mentality that "we can't save everybody"

Here's an answer for the FIRST question....But WHY should we care?  ....because "women's security elsewhere corresponds directly to our own security" and (what I loved best) because "fighting for women and girls isn't 'a nice thing to do.  It isnt' some luxury that we get to when we have time out our hands...This is a core imperative for every human being and every society."

Monday, April 8, 2013

Girl Rising is GOING BIG!

Spring Break was last week and, even though I didn't blog, I was a busy girl!  Actually, I was also sick most of the week, so in addition to all the checklists I was trying to finish I was also trying to manage chest congestion and exhasution.

I was super busy promoting the "Girl Rising" screening.  Social networking can be exhausting!  I was thankful to have 15 other people sign up, but I don't think we'll get another 84 people by April 10th.  I am not in the least disappointed.  To know that at least 15 other people (well, husband counts, too!) shared my interest in viewing such a film is enough for me.  AND I received very good news from the people who organize the film screenings.  Read below:

Dear Nancy,

We have some exciting news: Girl Rising is going big! A one-week theatrical release.
Due to the overwhelming demand Captains like you have generated, Regal Cinemas is rolling out Girl Rising for an exclusive, week-long run in 169 theatres nationwide from April 19 to 25.
Your support for Girl Rising lit the spark, and we have a tremendous opportunity to ensure many more people see this beautiful and important film - and understand the importance of girls’ education for all of us.
Now is the time to grow the grassroots movement even further. If there are people who can't make it to your screening, or friends in other towns, there is now an exciting window for lots of people to see the film.
Thank you for all your amazing support and making this happen.
Samantha Wright
Grassroots Campaign Director, Girl Rising

So...even if my screening doesn't take place I can still see it at any time during that whole week it will be playing.  For those in the Triangle area, the theater in Cary is the closest for us to visit.  I might try to re-vamp the Facebook event I set up in order to get a bunch of people to go together.  It's just nice that now anyone who was interested to begin with can now try to go without worrying about a minimum reservation requirement or lack of availability due to date/time setups.