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February 18 2014

November 15 2013

VIDEO: Tear-jerking Google ‘Reunion’ Ad Warms Hearts Across India and Pakistan

A series of short ads by Google India showing how their search engine can facilitate the bridging of hearts and help re-connect people separated by distance and man-made barriers has gone viral across India and Pakistan.

Released on 13 November, 2013, the Google Search: Reunion ad from Google India, is seen to be emotional and engaging. There is a playlist of five ads in this series, including ‘Fennel’, ‘Cricket’, ‘Anarkali’, and ‘Sugar-free’, but the most widely circulated one is ‘Reunion', which has already garnered over 1,523,788 views.

The three-and-a-half-minute ‘Reunion’ ad is about friendship, fond childhood memories, separation and reconnecting to a tender past. In the ad, available on YouTube with English sub-titles, an Indian Punjabi is shown telling his granddaughter Suman about his fond childhood memories in Lahore, Pakistan. He mentions his childhood friend Yousuf and the sweet shop his friend's father owned in old Lahore, and how he and his friend were separated by the partition of 1947. Suman then searches on Google the whereabouts of her grandfather's childhood friend and contacts him. Finally, the two friends re-unite.

The Reunion ad touches upon the sensitive issue of partition and how it separated friends and families. In 1947, prior to their departure from India, the British rulers partitioned India into the Dominion of Pakistan (later Islamic Republic of Pakistan and People's Republic of Bangladesh) and the Union of India (later Republic of India), primarily along religious lines, to stem the growing tensions between the Hindu and Muslim communities. The partition however, left both the nations devastated. People were forced to migrate across borders in massive numbers and rioting and acts of violence left deep scars on people's psyche. Till date, the wounds left by partition have not healed and the relationship between the two countries is often strained, marred by wars, border disputes, military stand-offs and a continuing conflict over Kashmir.  The partition tore apart friends and families, many of whom have not been able to find each other and/or reconnect. Though the two countries have made attempts to improve their relationship, even today the relationship is fragile and it is very difficult for Indian and Pakistani nationals to travel across the border due to stringent visa procedures.

Given this backdrop, it is interesting to see how the ads touched an emotional chord, with bloggers across the two countries reacting positively to the heartwarming ads.

Beena Sarwar, a journalist, blogger, human rights activist and lead campaigner for Aman ki Aasha, a campaign for peace between India and Pakistan, tied the ad into the ‘Milne Do’ campaign against visa restrictions between India and Pakistan:

If it doesn’t move you, you’ve got a heart of stone. And if oh, it was that easy. For Pakistanis and Indians to get visas to visit each other’s country is just short of impossible… If the Reunion ad moved you, go to the Milne Do (Let people meet) petition link and sign (and share) the campaign against India Pakistan visa restrictions. Every voice counts.

Blogger Mehreen Kasana wrote on her blog:

Many families in Pakistan don’t have family in India including mine, but at the same time there are many who have loved ones across the border. This is probably the most beautiful video I’ve seen on the subject…Got a little teary, not gonna lie.

Umar Alam from Pakistan, commented on the YouTube video of the ad:

Such an Awesome effort by Google. Love and respect from Pakistan

There are interesting tweets from both India and Pakistan discussing how the ad had an impact on viewers, leaving them touched and emotional.

Pakistani author and publisher, Musharraf A. Faroqi tweeted:

Anthony Permal, known as Tony Khan among twiterrati in Pakistan, tweeted:

Blogger Muna Khan tweeted about how the ad made her father nostalgic and eager to connect with his old friends:

Journalist and photographer Sukanto Mukherjee (@Humerus) from Kolkata, India linked to the actual sweet shop featured in the ad:

Indian journalist, Tripti Lahiri tweeted:

Twilightfairy (@twilightfairy), a professional photographer based in India, commented:

Roopa Gulati (@roopagulati), chef-blogger from India agreed. According to her:

Some people were more critical of the ad. For example, Shivani Mohan, a corporate communication professional from India, tweeted:

Some netizens also pointed out that the idea and storyline for the Google ad was “stolen” or “completely inspired” from a Pakistani short film called “RESPECT”, a short film about friendship and the power of communication in the context of Pakistan and India produced by Pak Sar Zameen Productions in August 2012.

Taha Kirmani (@TahaKirmani1), who directed the film, responded:

Here is the YouTube video of the aforementioned short film, which shows a young man using technology to reconnect his grandfather with his childhood friend, separated by the Partition of 1947:

Thumbnail image: Screenshot taken from the YouTube video, Google Search:Reunion

September 27 2013

Documentary Films Tackle Child Sexual Abuse in India

deviantART image of Little Red Riding Hood by Sebastian Moya, CC BY-SA 3.0

Spray painted image of Little Red Riding Hood by Sebastian Moya, deviantART, CC BY-SA 3.0

Child sexual abuse is rarely discussed openly in India. Lack of proper education among adults, queasiness around explaining sexuality related matters to children and the culture of children being expected to respect adult members of family without question, often put children in an abuse situation which they may not be able to report. In this post, we look at a few documentary films that inform and also urge both adults and children to break the silence around child abuse.

Chuppi Todo (Break the Silence) a film by documentary filmmaker Sanjay Kumar Singh, took shape in 2011 when Sanjay, in an effort to educate his six-year-old daughter and children like her about abuse, decided to make a film for children on how to recognize abuse, raise their voices against it and report it to a responsible adult. The film was supported by Plan India, an NGO working with children. Since then, Sanjay has created many more films and TV spots with the same theme, as awareness building tools against abuse.

The film, which is the first in the series and available on YouTube, is largely enacted through mime with a voice-over. The narrative follows two children Rahul and Sania who are close friends and enjoy reading and playing together. One day while playing hide-and-seek in a neighbor's house, Rahul is urged by his neighbor to hide behind him and is then covered with the shawl that the man was wearing and pulled onto his lap. A frightened Rahul runs away and later relates his ordeal to Sania who informs him that once a similar incident had happened to her but that her mother had taught her to say NO. She takes a shaken and embarrassed Rahul to her mother, reassuring him that she would be the right person to help him. Sania's mother calms the children and then  educates them about safe and unsafe touch, to say NO to the latter and run away. The children are also taught how they should not keep these things a secret (even if the abuser entreats/ threatens them to) and report it to their mothers or other responsible adults. The film also teaches children that even if they are not able to clearly identify the nature of a touch, if it makes them uncomfortable, it is best to refuse and report it.

The film asks children not to stay silent, not to keep secrets from their mothers and other responsible adults but to speak up about abuse. But why don't children report abuse? What holds them back? In her blog post on Women’ Webblogger Divorceddoodler explains some of the reasons why children do not confide in their caregivers or other responsible adults, namely that children lack the proper words to describe what has happened, they are afraid of being disbelieved, they feel it's somehow their fault or that they may have been threatened into silence.

Author-blogger Sweta Vikram, writing on Halabol points out some of the cultural factors that could ‘paralyze’ a child at a ‘subconscious level’ thereby bringing down the shutters and ensuring silence. She writes:

“Respect your elders” or “Don't question what the older folks say” or “Elders are never wrong,” is what we are brought up to believe. Children are loved and pampered, not respected as individuals. Their opinions and experiences either hold no value or are labeled as “cute” or “imaginative.” And for those of us who are or were rebellious morons and seek answers to everything illogical even as a kid, we are chastised or labeled as “disrespectful.” How many children or even adults do you think can be okay with feeling like an outcaste?

We are also brainwashed to keep our dirty laundry at home. So, even when the crime of sexual violence is and was happening, many children don't speak up against it because of fear or shock or shame or confidence or lack of support. Or if they were being heard, the reaction might mean: handle matters quietly.

Earlier, in 2010, another documentary film titled Speak Up! It's Not Your Fault!, produced by SCM Sophia Production (Sophia Institute of Social Communications Media, Mumbai) and directed by media professional Dipika Lal tackled the issue of child abuse in India. Using visual analogy from the story of Little Red Riding Hood and having two adults who had faced abuse as a child (one of them being Dipika herself) open up about their experience on camera, the director not only brought out what children feel and go through but also what issues they may face when some of them do open up about it. The film is currently hosted at Culture Unplugged and has been used here with permission.

 

The film also shows that even when children say No, or when they are uncomfortable in a situation, they can be ‘groomed‘ into giving in to the abuser's wishes. Grooming, according to Vidya Reddy, Director of Tulir – an organization working on the prevention and healing of child sexual abuse in India, is a very critical area for adults to understand, in order to be able to create the proper safeguards that are essential to providing a safe and protective environment for children.

In a telephonic interview, Vidya strongly emphasized that unless adult caregivers, to whom we are asking children to report abuse, are themselves educated and informed in a manner that allows them to be prepared and confident to handle these situations, asking children to report abuse will not go a long way to combat the problem. For it is only when adults are educated and informed about the context and dynamics of abuse, can they not only create a protective and safe space for children to speak up about abuse without fear, but can also take proper preventive steps to minimize opportunities for an abuser to get to a child. According to Vidya

Adults around a child should feel prepared and confident to address child sexual abuse and the only way to do it is to give them information that does not overwhelm them and put the shutters down. Rather, it will make them feel capable of addressing it and capable of preventing it. The dynamics of abuse need to be understood by the adults…For example, unless you understand grooming, you will never understand why a child won’t disclose about abuse and that is the crux of it, you know.

Of course, since the time that the film was made (2010), India has progressed when it comes to framing separate laws to tackle child abuse. In 2012, the government of India passed the Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences Act [pdf], which UNICEF India has also highlighted in their ongoing #ENDviolence campaign.

A more recent film, 2nd Saturday, produced by RM films, directed by Rumi Goswami and uploaded YouTube by PocketFilms, is a bold take on child abuse in that it talks directly to the abuser. A man who is abusive towards a minor girl who is the household help, is rudely shocked when his own child asks him why he does not love and caress her the way he does the maid.

There have been a few other films too, and very recently, on 20th September 2013, the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR) released a documentary film titled Thank You Ma to generate greater awareness about child abuse and the steps needed to protect children from it.

Films, videos, TV spots – in other words, the audiovisual medium is a powerful tool to generate awareness and educate both adults and children about abuse, it's dynamics and possible actions which can help minimize opportunities for abuse or it's recurrence. It's good to see activists, government agencies, filmmakers and media professionals using the audiovisual medium in an impactful manner to break the silence and taboo around child abuse. We need many more such films to shake us out of our complacency and ignorance, educate, inform and help us tackle child abuse in the way it should be.

April 16 2013

Indian Anti-Corruption Activist May Make Time's Most Influential List

Five days into his fast in protest of hiked utility prices, Indian anti-corruption activist Arvind Kejriwal was announced as a contender for the 2013 TIME 100 Poll, an annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world. Kejriwal's nomination for the list prompted an outpouring of enthusiasm from his supporters.

Kejriwal's fifteen-day fast, which lasted from March 23 to April 6, 2013, was in protest against the unfair rise in electricity and water prices in Delhi. Kejriwal spent his fast in Delhi’s impoverished neighborhood Sundar Nagari, where many of the residents had received electricity bills disproportionate to their actual use.

In late 2012, Kejriwal had launched an anti-corruption political party called Aam Aadmi Party (AAP, or “Party of the Common Man”). During Kejriwal's fast, AAP volunteers collected signatures from people pledging not to pay their inflated electricity bills; by the end of Kejriwal's fast, over one million people had signed AAP's petition. The consensus letters are due to be submitted to Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dixit for the second time on April 28, 2013.

Arvind Kejriwal on the 15th day of his fast in Delhi's Sundar Nagari. Photo: Manish Sisodia, Member Aam Aadmi Party

Arvind Kejriwal on the 15th day of his fast in Delhi's Sundar Nagari. Photo: Manish Sisodia, Member Aam Aadmi Party. Used with permission

The activist-turned-politician called this movement “Civil Disobedience.” One of the main purposes of his fast was “to remove fear from the minds of Delhi's citizens”, as many people in India are believed to be afraid of raising their voices against corruption. According to Kejriwal, the unfair rise in electricity prices and the inflated electricity bills were the results of corruption led by a corporate-political nexus.

For many, the impact of Arvind Kejriwal's fast and his recognition by TIME magazine were reflective of his growing influence in India’s political discourse. Those who have been following Kejriwal's past as a social activist emphasized that Kejriwal was not an overnight hero. For instance, one of his significant contributions as an activist was the campaign to establish the Right To Information (RTI) Act in India, which was passed by the Delhi Assembly in 2001 and was eventually passed by the Indian parliament in 2005. Today, the RTI Act is used by many activists in India to keep tabs on corruption in government offices.

The Delhi-area blogger Aditya Pranav highlighted Kejriwal's previous contributions, writing on his blog on April 12:

Some people believe that Arvind Kejriwal has turned into a crusader overnight. It is a must watch video [hi] for them for they would then realize that the movement they are now seeing has been evolving for many years. This was about the taxpayer’s money being looted in the name of various urban developmental activities shown on paper with very little or nothing being done actually. You would see how they went on to organize a first Jan Sunwayi or public hearing of its kind wherein thousands of people including locals, journalists, MLA, Mayor and people from various social organizations gathered.

The 2013 TIME 100 Most Influential poll was open for voting from March 28 to April 12, 2013. During the voting period, the enthusiasm among Kejriwal's social media supporters was noteworthy. According to the poll results, Arvind Kejriwal received 91.51% positive votes. By the end of the TIME 100 voting period, a total of 124,769 people had voted on Arvind Kejriwal, with only 8.49% of the voters rating him as not influential.

Young people appeared more appreciative and fearless in expressing their opinions online. On April 11, Ishwar Kandpal (@ishwarkandpal) [hi], a self-proclaimed supporter of Kejriwal and the AAP, tweeted to the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) of India:

मुझे गर्व है अरविन्द केजरीवाल ने विश्व भर के चुनिन्दा 100 लोगो में जगह बनाई !

I feel proud that Arvind Kejriwal has made a mark among the 100 most influential people in the world.

On March 28, another AAP supporter, Somu Kumar (@adivasi), opined that voting for Kejriwal was equivalent to voting for anti-corruption in India:

A vote for Arvind Kejriwal in 2013 #TIME100 list is a vote for India's anti-corruption movement. Please vote!

The Indian news media was not spared from criticism: an AAP supporter writing under the name of Bharat Builder (@bharat_builder) chided the Indian media for not recognizing Arvind Kejriwal’s work. He tweeted on April 12:

Listen Indian media, Arvind Kejriwal and decentralization is the idea whose time has come. @Time knows it, you don't!

Anti-corruption activist Arvind Kejriwal took the plunge into electoral politics, promising to give the country a party of the people. Image by Rohit Gautam. Copyright Demotix (2/10/2012)

Anti-corruption activist Arvind Kejriwal took the plunge into electoral politics, promising to give the country a party of the people. Image by Rohit Gautam. Copyright Demotix (2/10/2012)

AAP supporter Jyoti Shankar Jha (@Jyotishankarjha) [hi] was rather sarcastic in calling for those on Twitter to vote for Kejrawal. On April 11, he wrote:

मत देना अरविन्द को वोट TIME के इस पोल में रिश्वत नहीं लेता,एक भी दंगा नहीं करवाया,ना मारपीट करवाई. फिर क्यों दे वोट ?

Please don't vote for Arvind Kejriwal – he doesn't take bribes, he has not participated in a single riot, nor has he ever incited people to be violent.

However, there were some who felt that India, given its population size, could have done far better in supporting Arvind Kejriwal in the TIME 100 poll. Another of Arvind Kejriwal's supporters, Hemant Verma (@hemantverma007), opined:

We are 1250000000 Indians and we don’t have 1250000 vote Arvind Kejriwal

Other bloggers noted that inclusion in the TIME 100 poll is only intended to measure a person's influence. Freak-o-litics, a “political junkie” blogger who discusses Indian politics, wrote in an April 9 post:

One important thing to keep in mind is that these candidates chosen are simply the most influential people in the world but doesn’t necessarily mean in a positive way – as Time clearly points out: Although appearing on the list is frequently mistaken as an honor, these sets of people are recognized for changing the world, for better or for worse.

Interestingly, there have not been many Indian political leaders featured in previous TIME 100 polls. In 2012, Gujarat CM Narendra Modi was one of the hopefuls. However, he attracted more negative votes than positive votes.

The voting for the The 2013 TIME 100 Most Influential poll is now closed, and the final list is expected to be released on April 18, 2013.

This post was proofread in English by Molly Allison-Baker.

August 02 2012

Macedonia: Introducing Struga Poetry Evenings

Portuguese filmmaker André Soares published a short video documentary about the Struga Poetry Evenings, an international poetry festival that has been held annually for half a century, since 1962, in the town of Struga, Macedonia (the official site).

The film features statements by poets Vladimir Martinovski from Macedonia, a Chinese exile Bei Ling, Rati Saxena from India, Corey Marks from the United States, Siim Kera from Estonia, Mimoza Sali from Albania…who also talked about the global situation with poetry and read their works in various languages.

While explaining the circumstances of being forced to choose between jail and exile due to disagreement with the regime, Bei Ling says that his homeland is no longer China, but the Chinese language. Curiously enough, one of the most famous quotes by the renowned Macedonian poet and linguist Blaže Koneski (1921-1993), inscribed on his recently erected monument [mk], is “our language is our homeland.”

The festival is one of the crucial elements of the official, state-supported culture, and its opening is usually attended by top political personages, like the Minister of Culture, Prime Minister and/or the President. As such, it has not proven conducive to promotion of domestic dissent, as attested by the critical post [mk] on the 2009 edition by activist blogger and poet Vnukot. In 2011, he specifically returned [mk] to publicly read his poem about the murder of Martin Neshkovski, the event that incited the grassroots protests against police brutality a year ago.

Over the years, Macedonian bloggers have been mentioning the festival by quoting Wikipedia data and starting discussions about domestic poets such as Koneski, Mateja Matevski or Jovan Koteski (1932-2001), who attended in 1964 and 1981, or publishing Macedonian translations of works by foreign participants, such as the Japanese Shuntaro Tanikawa, the French Pierre Béarn, and Russian Vadim Fedorovič Terehin (Ru.wikipedia).

Journalist Vasko Markovski used his blog to publish a reportage [mk] on the park of poetry in Struga, where the trees planted by many world renowned poets grow side by side.

April 10 2012

India: Illegal Asphalt Plant's Pollution Causes Cancer in Villagers

Video Volunteers' India Unheard project exposes the problems faced by a community in Rajasthan where the pollution caused by several illegal asphalt factories is causing breathing problems in 10% of the population as well as affecting the crop production.

Sunita Kasera, who lives in a neighboring community, documents the residents' complaints against the pollution caused by these factories which have caused many of them to fall sick from cancer or respiratory diseases. Those sick need money for medication but at the same time their farms, also affected by the pollution, are yielding less produce. Meanwhile, the factory owners state that the residents benefit from the employment and wages and no complaints have reached them.

From the video's description:

The very air of the village of Asthal in Karuali district, Rajasthan has turned against the inhabitants. Crops wither before harvest and the trees have stopped to bear fruits. One in ten villagers suffers from cancer or falls victim to a serious strain of tuberculosis. All fingers are pointing at the 5 asphalt factories that have been churning out toxic fumes and black dust almost every single day for the last ten years.

Community efforts are being undertaken to prove the illegality of these factories and move them away from the village.

April 03 2012

Videos: Female Gendercide and Infanticide in India and China

Between India and China, 200 million girls have gone “missing” as parents abort female fetuses or kill and abandon baby girls. Several documentaries and reports cover this phenomenon, trying to explain the causes for this deadly gender discrimination and figure out what can be done about it.

Screenshot from the Trailer of It's a Girl

Screenshot from the Trailer of It's a Girl

With the tagline of “The three deadliest words in the world”, the “It's a Girl” documentaryis one which through interviews and on-location filming is figuring out why 200 million girls are “missing” in India and China, and why there has been no effective actions to this problem.

Born to Die is another film investigating the rise in female feticide and infanticide in modern India.

Poh Si Teng for Global Post also has a video on the relationship between ultrasound devices, gender screening and female feticide, and whether the laws banning portable ultrasound will help stop the selective abortions in India:

The BBC's 2007 investigatory documentary on India's Missing Girls and people who are trying to turn the tide on a cultural phenomenon that affects all of India's socio-economic levels: the cult of boys, and the belief that girls are not worth the trouble to raise them. The documentary, split in 3 parts can be found online (1, 2, 3) One of the organizations trying to make the difference is the Aarti Home in Kadapa, who take in abandoned children, most of whom are girls abandoned because they are girls, and also talking to expectant mothers of female children to encourage them to have and cherish them.

Aarti House hopes to be a home for girls who were already rejected once for being girls and make sure they have a safe haven.  At the very beginning of this next video, a young girl talks about the disadvantages and hardships she went through just because she was a female:

World renowned Chinese-American novelist Anchee Min, who writes strong female characters admits in this next video how she didn't want to have a daughter, and all through her pregnancy, secretly hoped that it would turn out to be a boy, despite ultrasounds and tests because “Who wants to be a girl in China?”

Taiwanese Next Media Animation explores the consequences of the gender imbalance in China brought on by the One Child Policy and a society which values males more than females with the video and song No Girls Born (In china Anymore)

So there are no girls born, in China anymore
I feel so forlorn, with nobody to keep me warm
Confucian culture scorns daughters in favor of sons
So there are no girls born and I'm doomed to be just one

My parents chose me in utero to carry on the family name
But if I can't find a bride I'll be carrying nothing but shame
You gotta be tall, educated, and own your own house
miss one out of three, you won't find a spouse

March 27 2012

India: Young Women Learning about Participatory Video

A group of young women in the slums of Hyderabad in India are learning how to make videos to change their communities, and in this next film the group of young girls explain what they've learned and how they are helping their communities and themselves through their work.

Young girls from the Hderabad Slums in India learn filmmaking

Young girls from the Hderabad Slums in India learn filmmaking

Namita Singh, who is doing her PhD research on Participatory Video had a double function in this process. An experienced trainer in video production for grassroots communities as well as a writer of toolkits and guides for media training directed to girls and children, she was also studying these girls learning process. While producing the video documenting the girls progress, they asked her to please train them further while they made the film. She comments on this experience in her blog post Namita Singh, the Trainer Vs. Namita Singh, the Researcher : Things I taught and things I learnt!

 

Tricky! How could I say no? They are giving me their time for my research. They are participating in it. They just want to learn a bit more, while being a part of it. On the other hand, it is a research, I did not want to compromise on my data-collection, while trying to train them and mixing up two very different things.Would research be research, if things did not complicate themselves?
So I put my dilemma aside, and thought, ‘Well, I could probably design the video-making in a workshop-format. I have done this as a trainer, as it is an extremely participatory process. I can do the same, as a researcher too.
It was not as easy as it seemed. There are things I did as a trainer, which I could not as a researcher, and vice-versa…..

Following is the video, subtitled in English:

http://http://www.youtube.com/cYpbuc-q8u0

Ms. Singh mentions in her article one example of how the young girls understand the power of the videos they are making and take into account many aspects in their production. It had to do with deciding on the language for the video. When it was suggested that they could make the video in English, as a way to reach funders and other NGOs, they countered:

But the girls pointed out, ‘Our communities don’t know English. They’ll not understand what we are saying. Even if we put subtitles, they don’t know how to read. Those who know English can read. So let only the subtitles be in English’. The girls were sensitive about their community, and vocal about it too. As a trainer, the focus was always to respond to such needs of the community. In fact, use of local words, encouraging local songs, etc. was an integral part of the process. After all, for them, it was for the local community that was to engage with the video more.

November 01 2011

South Asia: Celebrating The 7 Billionth Child

On the 31st of October, the earth welcomed a newborn child named Oishi. Her birth in the Bangladesh capital Dhaka carried a special message - she is the 7 billionth child of the world.

The Editor.net reports:

The 7 billionth child of the world is here in Dhaka. The lucky parents of the child are Mohsin Hossain and Tonni Hossain. They had hoped for a boy child as their third child. And this 3rd child is the 7 billionth child (symbolic) of the world.

The beautiful girl child was born on 12:01 AM at the early hours in Azimpur Maternity and Child Care Hospital.

It is difficult to identify exactly which child is the 7 billionth one, so a symbolic celebration is happening around the world. UNFPA selected Oishi to carry the honor in Bangladesh.

The website adds:

This birth was celebrated publicly - with cake and candles. The hospital was crowded with people who gathered to catch a glimpse of the child. Sponsored by the 7 billion action program, this program was a publicity event.

Posha Pakhi at group blog Somewhereinblog.net carried the news with a post titled “The 7 billionth child was born in Dhaka“. The post attracted many comments:

Journo opined [bn]:

Welcome the the 7 billionth child from Bangladesh. Hope she will live as an enlightened person.

Mithapur wished the child and questioned the justification of selecting her and mentioned jokingly [bn]:

One question: How did they calculate that she is the 7 billionth

If the line would read -

The world's 7 billion (instead of billionth) children born in Dhaka

It can happen one day, isn't it?

Atiq cannot tell the difference between 7 billion and 7 billion plus one:

I don't understand all the fuss between 7 billion and 7 billion plus one numbers. Why so much discussion on this? Everybody is born with a number everyday.

My prayers for every one of them.

Although the world cheers at Oishi's birth, it did not cheer her parents much. Because Oishi is a girl child. Her parents wanted a boy this time [bn] (the first two are girls).

Sri lankan mother Danushika Perera cuddling her newly born baby

Sri lankan mother Danushika Perera cuddling her newly born baby. Image by Rohan Karunarathne. Copyright Demotix (31/10/2011)

Not only in Bangladesh, similar celebrations took place in many countries of the world. In Sri Lanka UNFPA celebrated the birth of Muthumani, the girl child of Ishara Madushanka and Danushika Dilani Perera.

Similarly in India Plan International celebrated the birth of Nargis as the 7 billionth child of the world.

LiveIndia.Com reports [Hi]:

In Lucknow, the capital of Uttarpradesh state in India, a baby girl named Nargis was the symbolic seven billionth child to be born during the early ours of Monday. She was named as Nargis.

Although the growing number of world population has been seen as a wake up call for the world, Muthumani, Oishi and Nargis give us the message that the girl-children should not be neglected in the future.

Reposted bycheg00 cheg00

October 16 2011

World Food Day: Living with Hunger Pangs

woman selling food

Woman selling food Some rights reserved by #Eelco


According to the World Bank, nearly 1 billion people go to bed hungry around the world, and the rising food prices will make that number grow. Today, for the World Food Day, we put faces on those hungry families and hear their stories.

Video Volunteers from India have gone to the communities to bring to you the Hunger Video Project, focusing on how in spite of the growing economy, people are still going to bed hungry throughout their country.

 

The videos were produced for the launch of The World Disaster Report 2011, a joint collaboration between the World Food Programthe Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC.)The report aims to answer the fundamental question: “Why do one billion people across the world go to sleep hungry each night when the world is producing enough food for everyone?”

What makes these 12 videos more touching is the fact that they were made by people who are from the affected communities and not outsiders. Video Volunteers is a training program for people in marginalized communities who learn to make news, watch it, take action and make solutions for the problems that affect them and their neighbors.

On their project site, they include all 12 videos with a small description of the community where the video was filmed. This video for example, was filmed in Silchar, Assam in North East India, a predominantly rural - agrarian district with tribal marginalized minorities. In it, a father speaks of the hardships and the impotence of going to sleep knowing that his children are hungry.

In Raj Nandgaon, an underdeveloped and predominantly agrarian district in Chhatisgarh a woman is forced to prostitute herself just so she can feed her children.

Medecins Sans Frontieres have faced malnourished children for years of work in different areas of the world, and they noticed that what seemed like help, was actually making the problem worse: food donor organizations were not providing food that was nourishing enough to sustain children under two. So with the  Starved for Attention campaign, they decided to ask the actors in the Food Aid System to stop sending poor quality food aid and instead provide adequate nutritious food for malnourished children.

This year's topic for the World Food Day is Food Prices, from Crisis to Stability. This trailer is for The Hunger Game, a 15 minute film by Félix Álvarez Torres from Perú,  where he establishes that food prices are played with as if they were gambling chips in a game of power.

In the last 10 years the cost of food has increased in the whole world scandalous levels. Multinational companies invest billions of dollars on the purchase of future harvests, creating speculation and shortages at present. The stakes for the food prices are on the rise: the game where you always win.

Outside the poker table, the poor have to pay the gamblers heading of The Hunger Games. [sic]

Today, many people will be posting online about food and food issues thanks to the Blog Action Day initiative, under the #BAD11 and #food tag on microblogging sites and blogs.  Weigh in on the conversation and tell the world what you think about the rising price of food and hunger.

January 18 2011

India: Women Empowerment and Videoblogging

Written by Juliana Rincón Parra

Women Aloud Videoblogging for Empowerment (WAVE) is a platform and program aiming to get women from semi-urban areas of India to voice their opinions on topics that matter to them through online video tools.

WAVE's tagline reads “30 women, 30 regions, videoblogging every day”, and indeed, there are many different videos on the site covering a wide range of topics from what seems to be every region in India.  The women who participate were chosen by universities or NGO's to be a part of a 9 month mentorship program where they were provided with training, equipment and a stipend in exchange for their videos.

WAVE’s philosophy is that young women in India need to be heard and encouraged to analyze the problems in their communities and go on to become leaders who provide effective solutions in order for society to become socially and economically empowered.

Twenty-four year old Chinju Prakash from Trivandrum, Kerala works for SPACE, an NGO developing and delivering programs in New Media and Information Communication Technology. In one of her videos she shows us the Kalavara, a canteen run exclusively by women and we get to hear what the experience has been like for these women who are now able to make a living for themselves.

Preeti Jain is a 27 year old from Bilaspur, Chattisgarh. Through her videos she aims to focus on an indigenous community of Chattisgarh to raise awareness about their issues. In this next video, she focuses on their odd customs for arranging marriages: departing from the norm in India, the young men of the Baiga tribe meet and choose their wife during social events such as dances, and then let their parents know.

Salam Babina Devi is from Imphal, Manipur and volunteers full time at a grassroots organization dealing with women and child development. Her videos focus on cultural aspects of Manipur, like this next example on dance:

In Manipur every significant social and religious event is celebrated with its special form of dance. Here are glimpses of tribal, folk and classical dances from the hills and valley of an ancient land.

Visit WAVE for more stories and videos from women from different corners of the country.

December 10 2010

India: One Day Women Can Play and Dance

By Juliana Rincón Parra

India Unheard shows us two different festivities in different areas of the country where married women from tribal communities can, for one day only, play and dance in public without risking censure.


Indial Classical Dance in Kerala by Steve Cox, CC By


In Tribal Festival Celebrates Femininity, Devidas Gaonkar explains how due to the patriarchal structure that still persists in many tribal communities, there are very few occasions where women are allowed to get away from their chores and duties in the home, and this festival is a chance for them to gather together and have fun. He grew up observing his mother and sister enjoying themselves this day and understood the importance of giving women the chance to enjoy festivities in the same manner men are allowed to do so.

The following video by Devidas Gaonkar shows the Dhillo festivities, which take place on the day before Diwali, in Cotigao, Goa:

‘Dhillo’ is the name of the icon made of clay or cow dung that the women make to symbolise their deity; it is placed on the village ‘maand’ (platform or space kept for performances or festivals) where the women proceed to perform folk dances, which are known as ‘khel’ (game).

Another India Unheard Video Volunteer, this one in the Maharashtra region, talks about a similar day when women in her village can dance and have fun:

In rural Mahasrashtra where Rohini, the correspondent of this video lives, women are treated as inferior to men. So while men are free to do whatever they want, women's moves are restricted and they must take need special permission from family members to even move out of their homes. They are especially forbidden to sing, dance or play in public view. Those who do so, are looked down upon as women of loose morality. However, once in a year — on the day of Nagpanchami this bar is lifted and women are expected to dance and play games.

India Unheard is a community news service launched by Video Volunteers; an organization which trains community members into becoming correspondents who tell the unique stories about their minority or marginalized communities through video, SMS reporting and other social media tools.

May 29 2010

India: Video Giving A Voice To Marginalised Communities

By Ayesha Saldanha

IndiaUnheard

Video Volunteers aims to empower the world’s poorest citizens to participate in the community media movement and make their voices heard. On May 3, World Press Freedom Day, Video Volunteers launched IndiaUnheard, an initiative involving a network of Community Correspondents around India who will produce video stories about life in their community, and the issues ignored by mainstream media.

The Community Correspondents represent some of India's most marginalised communities, such as Dalits, tribal people, and members of religious, linguistic and sexual minorities, and they will report on issues that are important to these communities but are not reported by the mainstream media. Brian Conley, Programme Director of IndiaUnheard, explained in an interview with Global Voices:

IndiaUnheard is a program to enable local people to spread the issues of their community to the wider world. Fundamentally we hope that by increasing the reach of local voices in some of the most rural and marginalized areas of India, we can increase the visibility of local problems to the Indian government and the international community. The hope is that by leveraging social media and a variety of new technology, we can build an audience for the type of journalism that has never before existed in India. We also hope to create a space where the audience may interact directly with our correspondents, creating conduits from outside India into some of the least accessible areas.

We have chosen 30 Community Correspondents from all over India; our goal was to select individuals from some of the most marginalized areas of the country, and by and large we have been successful with that. Many of these Community Correspondents have had no formal media training previously to this program and a few had never even held a camera.

This video introduces IndiaUnheard:

Before the project was officially launched the Community Correspondents met in Ahmedabad, Gujarat for two weeks of training in video production and journalism. You can see some photos of the training here. The videos they are now making are available on the IndiaUnheard website, where they are categorised according to topic and region.

Community Correspondent Pratibha Rolta tells the story of children missing out on an education:

Mahima Kaul of IndiaUnheard writes on her blog about what she believes the initiative can achieve:

Along with the basic needs of food, water, infrastructure that communities need, there is a crucial need for creation of a media outlet which can both educate and offer a platform for carrying voices. All too often small communities are fed information from bigger cities, and to that end, this information often has no local resonance. To train local community members to become journalists helps them identity their problems and address them in constructive ways. There is a feeling in the community that ‘someone is listening to us’ which further leads to the confidence that they are too included in the democratic process (beyond election time). For individual members of community media, who are often from the most neglected parts of society – so-called lower castes, women, religious and sexual minorities – it is both a voice and also a paradigm shift in terms of professions available to them. The tag of ‘journalist’ allows their social status to rise and in turn they can help raise the profile of their community.

In another video, Devidas Gaonkar talks about environmental problems in the popular tourist destination of Goa:

March 11 2010

Against Cyber-Censorship - Voices in Hindi

World Day Against Cyber Censorship [640x480]

On the occasion of the World Day Against Cyber Censorship being celebrated by the Paris-based Reporters without Borders (RSF) on the 12th of March, netizens across the world are realizing that even in this age internet is not free from restrictions on freedom of expression - a basic human right, which in many parts of the world is being encroached upon by those in power. RSF intends to “rally everyone in support of a single Internet that is unrestricted and accessible to all”.

Internet-surveillance trends around the world are both interesting and surprising. According to the Reporters without Borders, Saudi Arabia is definitely a high internet-surveillance zone. This is one of the few issues on which Saudi Arabia stands together with Iran and Tunisia! The 13 countries that control and block the Internet, including North Korea which entirely controls ownership of the internet-connected computers to a selected few, are – Burma, China, Cuba, Egypt, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam. The RSF call these countries Internet's Black-Holes.

ReportersWithoutBordersMap

Image Courtesy - Reporters Without Borders/Internet's Black-Holes

The Reporters without Borders not only identify the countries that block Internet, they have devised a rating of the degree of Internet-surveillance around the world. And the trends are surprising:

  • Where do you think the Internet access has no censorship?
    No, it’s not in the North America and the Europe, but in large parts of Africa, parts of South America, Mexico and the Caribbean and in Mongolia!
  • Is Australia a free Internet-access zone?
    No, it’s under heavy surveillance – the same degree as in Algeria, Tunisia, Yemen and parts of South-East Asia!
  • What about the rest of the world, including the democracies of North America, Europe and India? They are under some censorship, but largely people have a free Internet-access.

India doesn't fall in the category of “Internet Black-Holes,” hence Hindi web-writers haven't written much on it because they haven't faced this problem. However, there are some Hindi bloggers who have reflected on press-freedom from different angles. I reproduce some of their thoughts below:

Mr. Mysterious from Jeddah writes on his Hindi blog about bloggers being imprisoned in Saudi Arabia for talking about human rights violation:

समाचार एजेंसी डीपीए ने 32 वर्षीय फौद अल-फरहान के हवाले से बताया कि पेशे से तकनीकी विशेषज्ञ और मानवाधिकार कार्यकर्ता फौद ब्लाग लिखने के जुर्म में पिछले तीन महीने से कारावास में है।
फौद के अनुसार बिना किसी पुख्ता सबूत के और बिना कारण बताए उन्हे गिरफ्तार कर लिया गया। गिरफ्तारी से ठीक पहले अपने ब्लाग पर उन्होंने सऊदी अरब के उन दबंग व्यक्तित्वों के बारे में लिखा था जो उन्हे बेहद नापसंद है। इनमें अरबपति राजकुमार वालिद बिन तलाल और कई नामी मौलवियों के नाम शामिल थे।
सऊदी अरब में ब्लागर्स की इस गिरफ्तारी के खिलाफ बहुत सी आवाजें उठ रही है। ब्लागर्स पर चलाए जा रहे न्यायिक मामलों के बावजूद उनके परिवार वाले और मानवाधिकार संगठन इस मनमानी का डट कर मुकाबला कर रहे है।

News Agency DPA reported about 32 years old technician and human rights activitist Faud-al-Farhan who was imprisoned by the authorities for the “crime” of expressing his ideas on is blog. According to Faud he was arrested without any strong evidence and withou informing him about any reason. Just before his incarceration, he had blogged about those high-level personalities whom he didn't like such as the billionaire Prince bin-Talal and some powerful clerics. There are many voices raised in Saudi Arabia against these imprisonments of bloggers. Despite the court cases being conducted against bloggers, their families and human rights activists are fighting against these bloggers.

Rachna Verma has commented in her Hindi blog on the freedom of expressions and the behaviour of the mediapersons in India, who misuse their freedom of expression to keep themselves in powerful position:

दुनिया का सबसे बड़ा लोकतंत्र हमारा देश और उससे भी बढ़कर उसके नागरिकों को प्राप्त अभिव्यक्ति की स्वतंत्रता का अधिकार और इसके साथ ही कार्यपालिका, व्यवस्थापिका और न्यायपालिका पर नजर रखने के लिए बना चौथा स्तम्भ यानि मीडिया॥ अभिव्यक्ति का सशक्त माध्यम , लेकिन अभिव्यक्ति की स्वतंत्रता का पुरजोर बना यह चौथा स्तम्भ ही इस अधिकार पर पक्षपातपूर्ण रवैया अपना रहा है॥ यहां ये साफ कर देना जरूरी है कि यह केवल मेरा अनुभव और व्यक्तिगत राय है॥ हो सकता है कई लोग मेरी इस बात से इत्तेफाक न रखते हो, लेकिन वहीं है ना अभिव्यक्ति है, इसलिए इस अधिकार का प्रयोग करना एक जागरूक नागरिक होने के नाते मैं जरूरी समझती हूं॥

Our country is the largest democracy in the world and more important than that is the freedom of expression granted to its citizens and the Fourth Pillar i.e., the media that has the obligation to keep an eye on the activities of the legislature, the judiciary and the executive. However, media - this strong proponent of the freedom of expression - itself is misusing its freedom of expression in a biased manner. I want to clarify that this is my personal opinion and perhaps many people don't agree with me but I have the freedom to express my opinion and I feel it is essential for me to exercise this right as a conscious citizen.

Another Hindi blog bhadas4media celebrates the lesson taught by the reporters in Gujarat to the Chief Minister Modi's government's attempt to curb the freedom of the press by restricting their entry into government hospitals - a move which was strongly opposed by the reporters and it had to be retracted by the government:

गुजरात के सरकारी अस्पतालों में पत्रकारों के प्रवेश पर लगी पाबंदी जबरदस्त विरोध के बाद सोमवार को हटा ली गई। पत्रकारों ने सरकार के इस आदेश के खिलाफ विधानसभा की कार्यवाही का बहिष्कार किया और सचिवालय में भी हंगामा मचाया। इसके बाद स्वास्थ्य मंत्री जयनारायण व्यास ने इस आदेश को वापस ले लिया और बुधवार को पत्रकारों से चर्चा के बाद ही इस पर कोई फैसला लेने की घोषणा की।

स्वास्थ्य विभाग के उपसचिव आई.एम. कुरैशी ने 2 फरवरी 2010 को एक परिपत्र जारी कर गुजरात के सरकारी अस्पतालों में पत्रकारों के प्रवेश पर प्रतिबंध लगा दिया था। उन्होंने बताया कि मीडिया में कई बार तथ्यविहीन व गलत समाचार दिखाए और प्रकाशित किए जाते है जिससे प्रशासन की छवि धूमिल होती है। अहमदाबाद में नाराज पत्रकारों ने सिविल अस्पताल परिसर में धरना दिया और सरकारी आदेश की होली जलाकर अपना विरोध जताया।

The order to restrict the entry of the reporters into the government hospitals was taken back following strong protests from the press. The reorters abstained from the proceedings of the Lagislative Assembly in Gujarat and also protested in the Secretariat. Following this, the Health Minister took this order back. (The order) had alleged that the media often shows and publishes baseless news which tarnish the image of the government…The mediapersons protested against this and burnt the copies of the official report.

This blog-post supports the protest of the press which resulted in the order being taken back by the Gujarat government by titling the post as “Mediapersons Teach a Lesson to the Autocratic Officials of Modi.”

BBC Hindi News service had also reported the Google Debate in China early this year -

इंटरनेट सर्च कंपनी गूगल ने कहा है कि वो चीन में अपना कामकाज समेट सकती है क्योंकि चीनी मानवाधिकार कार्यकर्ताओं के ईमेल कथित तौर पर हैक किये जा रहे हैं…

हैकिंग

वेबसाइट पर हमला करने वालों का प्रमुख लक्ष्य था मानवाधिकार कर्मियों के जीमेल अकाउंट को हैक करना

डेविड ड्रमोंड, गूगल के अधिकारी…

कंपनी की तरफ से जारी किये बयान में डेविड ड्रमोंड ने कहा, “वेबसाईट पर हमला करने वालों का प्रमुख लक्ष्य था मानवाधिकार कार्यकर्ताओं के जीमेल एकाउंट को हैक करना.”…

कंपनी को जांच के बाद इस बात की जानकारी मिली है कि कम से कम दो जीमेल एकाउंट को हैक किया गया.

गूगल ने कहा है कि अमरीका, चीन और यूरोपीय देशों के उन लोगों के दर्जनों जीमेल एकाउंट को किसी तीसरी पार्टी ने खोलकर देखा, जो ‘चीन में मानवाधिकार' के हिमायती थे…

गूगल का ये भी कहना है कि इस तरह कि हैकिंग कि घटनाएं कम से कम 20 और कंपनियों के साथ भी हुईं हैं.

Google has said that it can wind up its business in China, since the Gmails of the human rights activists in China are being hacked by the government officials…Google has said that Gmails of dozens of human rights workers from America, Europe and China have been opened by a third party. Google also said that hacking incidents such as these have also happened with at least 20 more companies as well.

As information like these are emerging, people are raising their voice against the censorship and it is important to support these voices. We need to inform, connect and empower these people to defend an Internet without restrictions and make it accessible to everyone.

February 17 2010

My Name is Khan - Cultural Politics in India

Poster image courtesy Wikipedia

Poster image courtesy Wikipedia

This post is not about the Bollywood film ‘My Name is Khan‘, but the way it is perceived in India and the US and why. A look at the Hindi blog-posts related to this film reveals an interesting fact - that the reactions to this film have more to do with the cultural politics in India than with the aesthetic value of the film itself.

In the US, Shah Rukh Khan's recently released film “My Name is Khan” is doing well because it portrays the scenario in the West after the tragic events of 9/11 and attempts to show how Muslims in the US are perceived by the Americans. This portrayal draws from Khan's own experience at the Newark Airport last year when he was profiled for secondary interrogation by the airport authorities. This incident caused uproar in India and finally, the US Ambassador in New Delhi had to issue a statement to say that the causes of this incident will be investigated. The film narrates a similar story of an autistic Muslim in the US, who is harassed by the police after 9/11. To add an additional autobiographical touch to the film, his character in the film loves a Hindu woman. It's well-known that Shah Rukh Khan's wife in real life is a Hindu woman. Because of the growing unease with the Muslim population amongst the Western people of Europe and North America after the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and later, this film has been well-received in the US and has managed to fetch 1 Billion Indian Rupees for its global distribution rights from the Fox Studios.

In India, this film ran into problems on the eve of its first screening in Mumbai with the fundamentalist Hindutva faction Shiv Sena. I reported this in my blog ‘The World Around Me‘ :

As I write this, Maharashtra government has made large-scale security arrangements today afternoon, and some 2000 Shiv Sena members have been arrested as they tried to disrupt the film screening.

Some of the Hindi blog-posts on this topic show several streams of thoughts.

Vijay Prakash Singh from New Delhi opines [hi] after watching this film that this is an ordinary film, but is gaining popularity because of the controversial environment in which it was released. He says that Shah Rukh Khan is influenced by the Western mode of thought and hence, he has dealt with an issue that is of interest to the Western audience. According to Singh, this film has consciously attempted to create sensation and has used all elements for this purpose. Besides, it is to this film's advantage that India has degraded parties such as Shiv Sena, which created a scene on an unimportant issue and provided additional popularity to this film it didn't deserve. Moreover, Khan also has the support of the ruling party, which immediately sent its police forces to arrest the trouble makers. According to Singh, this same police force was nowhere to be seen when the North Indians were being killed by the same Shiv Sena.

In this context, BBC Hindi started a discussion [hi] by asking the readers whether they support the idea that Indians should be friendly towards Pakistan or that Shiv Sena's attitude is right. Out of the many responses, Jamshed Akhtar from Lucknow says that Pakistan has always deceived India but Shah Rukh's attitude is right because a good player should be supported regardless of nationality. Rajiv from Allahabad says that although Muslim players and actors are popular with Hindus, some of them try to play the victim to gain popularity.

Nitish Raj in his blog post published before the release of the film says [hi] that Shiv Sena took this stand to make its presence felt because its' popularity is waning now but their opponents seem stronger than them.

It is important to mention here Tarun Vijay's article which powerfully brings out the pathos of the Kashmiri Hindus who have lived a life of sufferings as refugees in their own country and who can't talk about their victimization because of the partisan politics that exists today. This is another dimension of portrayal of a community in India.

December 18 2009

Video: International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers

Red umbrella logo

Red umbrella logo

December 17th is the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, a day which started  in 2003 as a memorial and vigil to the Sex workers killed in Seattle Washington and then evolved to an international day to call attention to the hate crimes committed against sex workers throughout the world.

Some of this violence is related to stigmatization and the immediate association many do between sex-workers and AIDS. Women in SANGRAM, an NGO in India, are working for that association to be a positive one, where sex workers are known for their work in preventing HIV/ AIDS and raising awareness.

The International Woman's Health Coalition recently visited SANGRAM to do media training and documentation and this is the short documentary film they made. You can also see some of the pictures they took during the documentation process here. As producer @AudaciaRay mentioned on Twitter:

The US sex worker movement has a lot to learn from Indian activists. Watch my video to see how they're collectivizing…

In the video, the women of SANGRAM explain how education regarding their human rights has made them take action to ensure that they receive proper medical care, that they are treated equally by law enforcement and government officials, that they protect themselves and so they can educate others regarding the risks of STDs and unprotected sex. From the description:

Based in a rural community in India's Maharashtra State, SANGRAM works to ensure equal access to HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, care and support: Over 6,000 women in rural India have participated in HIV testing as a result of these efforts. Drawing on 15 years of work to empower marginalized communities to claim their rights, SANGRAM is becoming an increasingly strong advocate nationally, and globally for health policies and programs that are responsive to the real-life needs of local communities.

In Australia, Juicy Jessie Abraham who works in a “legal” setting in the Northern Territories makes a vlog entry calling to abolish registration of sex workers. She wishes for stigmatization against sex workers to stop, and she believes registration is a way to identify sex workers and possibly use it to discriminate against them, among other issues.

From Grit TV, a short video explains what is the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers and its history, as well as the importance of the red umbrella symbolizing resistance to discrimination against sex workers :

There are other organizations for whom sex work itself is equivalent to violence. They wish to combat legalization and decriminalization by eradicating sex work and criminalizing the purchase of sexual services. For example, that is the position that Honour Consulting in Canada holds. Founded by former sex worker Trisha Baptie who also was a founding member for EVE- formerly Exploited Voices now Educating, they have posted a song called Would you Wait where they put out their perspective. In Ms. Baptie's words:

We need to call prostitution what it really is, which is violence against women.
Calling it violence against women, and an attack on women's equality, allows us to name the injustice that we have to fight against.
Supporting the criminalization of the demand of prostitution, which is referred to as the Swedish model of law, or as of late, the Nordic model of law, which calls for an end of the commodification of women's bodies, is pro women and pro equality.

In a contrasting perspective from Macedonia, Witness.org and the Hops organization in Skopje, have produced the following 18 minute documentary about sex work titled You Must Know About Me: Rights Not Violence for Sex Workers in Macedonia. In it, sex workers speak out firsthand about what it is like to live in an environment where they are targeted, their human rights are overlooked and they are abused by the figures of authority who should be protecting them, and where they wish to be recognized as workers, with the same rights as any other consenting adult in employment, where the problem with sex work is not the work itself, but the stigmatization, insecurity and violence they face because of persecution and discrimination.

From the video description:

You Must Know About Me is a first-hand account of sex workers experiences and aspirations off and on the streets. While dealing with harassment and violence from clients, pimps, and the police, sex workers strive to counter hostile public attitudes by speaking out and fighting for their rights. The video calls for zero tolerance of violence against sex workers and the coordinated response of institutions to the actual needs of sex workers.

Do you know of any other activities or initiatives to end violence against sex workers? Please let us know!

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