‘Half Face’ brings 9 women full circle

Published: July 27, 2010

Unschooled victims of abuse complete a documentary on violence against women

KARACHI: It took just 12 days for nine women who could not even write to learn the basics of filmmaking and computer skills and complete a documentary on violence against women.

A training workshop called WISE was held by the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research to help women overcome the abuse they have suffered and create awareness about violence against women by learning the technical and creative processes involved in filmmaking.

The nine women were all survivors of some kind of physical, mental or sexual abuse. They came from different parts of Karachi and other areas in Sindh, including Tando Adam, said the programme’s coordinator Saleha Atha.

“These women have come a long way in the 12 days of training,” said Danielle Spencer, project coordinator of WISE. She said the first two days were difficult since the women could not even write in Urdu, let alone make their way forward with the English alphabet. However they were an exceptionally smart group, Spencer said, adding that the women grasped the workings of the social media very quickly.

“I had experience in theatre, TV and social work as well and I wanted to combine the technical and the social cultural aspects,” she said. “I taught them physically and used symbols which they grasped immediately.”

According to Spencer, the participants were quite nervous and introverted when the programme started. “Some of them could not even make eye contact with me,” she said. By the last day of the workshop on Monday, however, the women were presenting their work and taking questions from an audience.

One of the participants, Shabana, agreed that training had boosted her confidence. “We all managed to make a documentary in which we have talked to women about their issues, we also talked to men about their views on violence against women and we interviewed experts to get their opinions,” she said. “And we did everything on our own from using the camera to selecting the issues and the interview questions.”

“We went where even the media has not gone,”  said another participant, Rehana. “We believe that our voice will be stronger now.”

The 10-minute documentary is called Half Face. It shows how women are treated by their husbands and other men in the community and how their rights are suppressed at their workplace and in their homes.

Spencer will carry out the same programme in other countries in South Asia including Indonesia, Thailand and Sri Lanka. “I was really afraid of coming to Pakistan,” she revealed. “But I feel that the security condition in Pakistan is immensely exaggerated. People here are very loving and warm and I would love to come back.”

The participants were given a USB stick with their documentary saved on it. They have been encouraged to create awareness in their communities about different issues faced by women. They were also given access to a camera and laptop so they can make more documentaries and films. Spencer said that she will be sending two more laptops and another camera to their villages so that the women can continue making their voices heard through social media.

Justice (retd) Majida Rizvi, who has long campaigned for women’s rights, said that it is up to women to change their battered states. “You should not differentiate between a male and female child, train your young male children to respect women and be fair with other women,” she said.

The documentaries will be broadcast on a special YouTube channel and shared globally through social media.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 27th, 2010.

Reader Comments (4)

  • tanvir ahmed
    Jul 27, 2010 - 7:04AM

    why hasn’t this movie been released if not on tv,then atleast on youtube?? In our society ppl have a rigid,dogmatic & unquestioning attitude towards social mores & they have no exposure to anything different as critical thinking & questioning is abhorred in our society.

    Our women consciously choose to be completely dependent on & subservient to the men in their lives, be it their fathers,brothers ,husbands & hand over all decision making power to the men who make all the important decisions in their lives.

    I’ve heard women justifying misogyny in the name of “culture”,”tradition”,”religion”.We can’t blame men onesidedly for the attitudes towards women in our society as the women themselves don’t make an effort to change their own attitudes,behaviour & UNLESS THE VICTIM DECIDES TO STOP PLAYING THE VICTIM THE BULLY WILL CONTINUE TO BULLY AS HE KNOWS THERE ARE NO CONSEQUENCES FOR HIM.

    A few weeks ago there was a program on tv,where a battered & bruised woman was crying on tv that her husband tortures her badly,but still was pleading with him through the anchor to take her back,& her mother was saying that even thought her daughter would continue to be abused ,yet she should still go to her “home” & accept her fate as who will feed her & all the traditional gibberish.Recommend

  • Jul 27, 2010 - 9:31AM

    I’m loving this. Can’t wait to see the documentary. Kudos to the organizers and to these brave women. :)Recommend

  • Farrukh Zain
    Jul 27, 2010 - 5:25PM

    Interesting story as it’s always good to see somebody is taking any action against injustice.

    My comments are more directed towards my respected brother Tanvir Ahmed. If I am capable of beating you up, torturing you, abusing you, degrading you day in and day out, does it give me the RIGHT to exercise my capability? Isn’t rather presumptuous of you to say “Our women consciously choose to be completely dependent on & subservient to the men in their lives…..”. It is not the women who justify this misogyny in the name of culture, tradition, or religion. It is men like you who out of their misplaced masculinity try to cover their cowardly acts in the name of religion, tradition, and culture.

    What you saw on TV is perhaps the most pathetic but true fact of our society. A bruised body and soul of a helpless woman is still willing to carry on with her ordeal because she has no other choice. If we cannot provide a safe and secure society where a woman can take care of herself economically then my dear friend we do not have any right to say that “UNLESS THE VICTIM DECIDES TO STOP PLAYING THE VICTIM THE BULLY WILL CONTINUE TO BULLY”.Recommend

  • Jul 28, 2010 - 11:17PM

    Thank you for running this article and highlighting the work that we do. Please feel free to watch the channel http://www.youtube.com/wiseahrc here you can watch the movie from tomorrow…

    … and on a personal note – I agree with Farrukh Zain and I couldn’t possibly say it any better than they have already done.

    Danielle
    Project Coordinator
    WISERecommend

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