Addressing women's rights

Posted: 10 October 2004

Denial of women's rights devastates the lives of millions around the world today. According to the UN Population Fund State of World Population 1997 report, the failure to provide reproductive health care and basic education to the world's women - combined with continuing widespread discrimination and violence directed against women - constitutes a violation of human rights on a massive scale.

With support from the UN Population Fund and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, TVE has produced a series of four 15-minute films which illustrate the reality of the report's findings. Through highly personal stories of women from four different countries: Ethiopia, Fiji, Jamaica and Latvia, each film tackles different areas of abuse of women's rights.

Patricka's Story focuses on the life of Patricka who is five months pregnant. She already has three children, and is worried about her fourth. For four years she's been subjected to increasingly violent attacks from her partner Don. Directed by Scottish film-maker, Diane Best, the film traces the origins and nature of domestic violence in the Caribbean.

Young Wives Tale, told by the English director Charlotte Metcalf, explores the subject of child marriage. Despite international treaties to protect women's and children's rights, recent statistics show that early marriage, arranged by girls' families, is actually on the increase in many parts of the world.child brideNibret, a child bride in rural Ethiopia prepares for her wedding© Charlotte MetcalfThe film focuses on the life of Nibret, a young girl from a rural village in Ethiopia. She is only eleven and is being married to a teenage boy she has never met before. Will she survive the experience? Risks of complications from pregnancy and childbirth increase exponentially with girls whose bodies are not fully developed.

Girls of Chaka Street, directed by Latvian film-maker, Antra Cilinska, looks at the flourishing sex industry in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia which took off in 1992 when the former Soviet Baltic republics gained independence and opened their borders to the outside world. Living standards crashed, unemployment soared, and young girls could earn more in a night from well-heeled visiting tourists than a trained doctor could in a month.

The film focuses on the life of Eva who last year was driven into the forest, stripped and gang-raped by 14 men who left her for dead. It was, she said, just one of the occupational hazards of working as a prostitute in Latvia.

The film also looks at the insidious role the Mafia plays in the sex trade, paying middle-men up to US$5,000 for supplying (often under-age) young girls for clubs and brothels in Berlin, Amsterdam, Brussels or Warsaw.

Caught in the Crossfire directed by Fijian film-maker, Atu Emberson-Bain, tells the story of Gyan and her sister Sushila who is deaf and dumb. A harsh reality and an elderly dependent father leave them little choice in finding a way to earn a living and they are forced into sex work.

Prostitution is a taboo subject and illegal in Fiji, but it is women and not men who get prosecuted. Their story shows the devastating effect economic and social breakdown can have on individual lives.

Reviewer: Nick Rance

For copies of each film contact:
TVE's distribution office by clicking here.
TVE, 21 Elizabeth Street, Victoria, LONDON SW1W 9RP.
Telephone: +44 20 7901 8855; fax: +44 20 7901 8856.
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