Societal taboos: Media students highlight social issues through short films

Highlight social issues including HIV/AIDS, child marriage and domestic violence.

Sehrish Wasif December 18, 2014

ISLAMABAD: Some untold stories have been brought to light by a group of media students of Islamabad universities through short films and documentaries, highlighting the societal taboos.

The films were screened at Kuch Khaas the other day.

Around seven short films produced by the media students of Bahria University and Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of (SZABIST) based on the sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) thematic areas which highlight and unveil the social and cultural practices, taboos and myths of child marriages, domestic violence and HIV and AIDS.

The event, organised by Rutgers WPF Pakistan aimed to sensitise young media students about highlighting social issues that are usually suppressed due to taboo attached to them through camera lens.

A short film titled, “Born With It” produced by a group of media students from Bahria University captured the attention of the audiences and received huge applause.

The short film revolves around the life of a HIV positive patient who acquired this disease from his father who was an injection drug user (IDUs) and highlighted his miseries after being pushed into isolation by his friends and relatives.

“After knowing that I am HIV positive I became a source of mockery and gossip for my friends on social media as they believed that I acquired the infection through commercial sex workers,” said the HIV positive in the documentary.

Another short film, “Breaking Taboos” on the same issue by another group of Bahria University students tries to create awareness among people that HIV/AIDS is not only transmitted through sexual intercourse but through many other ways such as transfusion of infected blood, unsterilized surgical equipments, used syringes etc. The film revolves around the story of a youth who acquired the disease after being transfused with infected blood.

A group of Bahria University students touched the heart of the audience with a documentary “Seeking Shelter” based on victims of domestic violence.

It highlights how lives of victims of domestic violence become terrible and difficult when they escape from their homes and try to look for a shelter where they can take refuge.

While talking to The Express Tribune, some of the students said that before producing the documentaries they were not aware of ground realties and the source of spread of HIV/AIDS as they knew that it is transmitted only through sexual activities.

They wished that their short films be showcased at various places which could help create awareness among people.

“During the shooting we figured out how difficult it was to talk about HIV/AIDS owing to the perception of the people about its spread,” said Rana Saeed.

Sidra Sohail a member of Saeed’s group said, “It was difficult for us to convince one of our university fellows to play a role of HIV positive person in the documentary because of the taboo associated with the disease.”

Aftab Awan, programme manager at Rutgers WPF said that it was difficult to talk about SRHR due to the taboos attached to it therefore some of the topics were given to the media students who were asked to highlight them.

“Currently government is not spending a single penny for the control and prevention programme on HIV/AIDs as it is all being run on international funding, I am afraid what will be the fate of the programme if this funding would be stopped.”

Published in The Express Tribune, December 19th, 2014.


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