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Social Sciences

Violence Against Women


By Attiya Khan & Lawrence Jackman

From Executive Producer Sarah Polley, A BETTER MAN follows a series of intimate conversations between a woman and her former boyfriend when she confronts him about their history of domestic abuse. More than 20 years have passed when filmmaker Attiya Khan asks her ex-boyfriend, Steve, to meet. Steve abused Attiya every day during the two years they lived together. She finally fled out of fear for her life, and has carried the emotional scars ever since. Now, Attiya wants to talk to Steve - on camera - searching to answer a question that is both simple and incredibly complicated: Will Steve take responsibility? A BETTER MAN follows this bold and radical exploration of restorative justice. Through emotionally raw conversations, Attiya and Steve begin a new recovery process - and illustrate a new paradigm for domestic violence prevention. The film offers a fresh and nuanced look at the healing and revelation that can happen for everyone involved when men take responsibility for their abusive behavior.

DVD (Color) / 2017 / 79 minutes

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By Rachel Meyrick

Every day, 5 million children in the U.S. experience domestic violence, either as witnesses or victims. Due to a horrific system that favors abusive fathers, a shocking number of mothers who seek to protect their children (and themselves) end up losing them. Most Americans are unaware that an abusive father, who contests custody from a protective mother, will win 70 percent of the time. This bold and provocative film is a long overdue exploration into why the most powerful country in the world is not protecting its most vulnerable mothers and children and thus enabling generations of abusers to continue their abuse.

Along with intimate personal stories, family revelations with hard hitting facts and frank discussions on the child custody issue with feminists, lawyers, judges and domestic violence experts we follow the indomitable 86-year-old Charlotta Harrison, a survivors' advocate who herself survived a 60-year abusive marriage. She speaks hauntingly about the pressures and fears that make it so difficult for women in danger to leave. With Charlotta, we meet women and children who have been separated, silenced, and pushed to extreme methods of escape - and who are fighting back.

DVD (Color) / 2017 / 81 minutes

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By Paula Sacchetta

FACES OF HARASSMENT is an experiment in storytelling about trauma. When the hashtag #MyFirstHarassment swept across Brazil, it showed not only the widespread experience of sexual harassment, but a widespread hunger to bring it out of the shadows. FACES OF HARASSMENT amplifies this movement, by opening space for women to speak their own truth. The film was shot in a mobile storytelling van, parked in rich and poor neighborhoods alike across Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro and open to any woman. The van was a free, autonomous space, where women spoke to the camera directly, no interviewer or other influence present. FACES OF HARASSMENT offers an honest and unflinching look at the scourge of sexual harassment - and at the radical possibilities for dignity and healing that can happen when women are free to speak completely for themselves.

DVD (English, Portuguese, Color) / 2016 / 82 minutes

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By Joanna Sokolowski and Kate Trumbull-LaValle

Riding at night through streets deemed dangerous in Eastside Los Angeles, the Ovarian Psycos use their bicycles to confront the violence in their lives. At the helm of the crew is founder Xela de la X, a single mother and poet M.C. dedicated to recruiting an unapologetic, misfit crew of women of color. The film intimately chronicles Xela as she struggles to strike a balance between her activism and nine year old daughter Yoli; street artist Andi who is estranged from her family and journeys to become a leader within the crew; and bright eyed recruit Evie, who despite poverty, and the concerns of her protective Salvadoran mother, discovers a newfound confidence.

The film Ovarian Psycos rides along with the Ova's, exploring the impact of the group's activism, born of feminist ideals, Indigenous understanding and an urban/hood mentality, on neighborhood women and communities as they confront injustice, racism, and violence, and take back their streets one ride at a time.

DVD (Color) / 2016 / 72 minutes

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By Kristy Guevara-Flanagan

WHAT HAPPENED TO HER is a forensic exploration of our cultural obsession with images of the dead woman on screen. Interspersing found footage from films and police procedural television shows and one actor's experience of playing the part of a corpse, the film offers a meditative critique on the trope of the dead female body.

The visual narrative of the genre, one reinforced through its intense and pervasive repetition, is revealed as a highly structured pageant. The experience of physical invasion and exploitation voiced by the actor pierce the fabric of the screened fantasy. The result is recurring and magnetic film cliche laid bare. Essential viewing for Pop Culture, Women's and Cinema Studies classes.

DVD (Color) / 2016 / 15 minutes

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By Kim Longinotto

"You got any dreams you wanna catch?" Sundance award winner DREAMCATCHER takes us into a hidden world of prostitution and sexual trafficking through the eyes of one of its survivors, Brenda Myers-Powell. A former teenage prostitute with a drug habit, Brenda defied the odds to become a powerful advocate for change in her community, and works to help women and young girls break the cycle of sexual abuse and exploitation. DREAMCATCHER lays bare the hidden violence that devastates the lives of these young women, their families and the communities where they live in Chicago and Brenda's unflinching intervention that turns these desperate lives around.

With unprecedented access, multi-award winning director, Kim Longinotto (SISTERS IN LAW, ROUGH AUNTIES, SALMA) paints a vivid portrait of a community struggling to come to terms with some of its most painful truths and of the extraordinary woman who uses her past to inspire others to survive. With warmth and humor, Brenda gives hope to those who have none in the four magic words she offers up to everyone she meets: "It's not your fault."

DVD (Color) / 2015 / 98 minutes

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By Leslee Udwin

INDIA'S DAUGHTER is the powerful story of the 2012, brutal gang rape on a Delhi bus of a 23 year old medical student, who later died from her injuries. In 2012, it made international headlines and ignited protests by women in India and around the world. This month India's government banned the film while the BBC moved their planned broadcast up by days and ignited a new controversy. BAFTA winning filmmaker Leslee Udwin, herself a victim of rape, went to India inspired by the protests against sexual assault. With an all Indian crew, Udwin got exclusive, first time on camera interviews with the rapists and defense attorney, none of whom express remorse. The defense attorney goes even further, stating that "immodest" women deserve what happens to them. An impassioned plea for change, INDIA'S DAUGHTER pays tribute to a remarkable and inspiring young woman and explores the compelling human stories behind the incident and the political ramifications throughout India. But beyond India, the film lays bare the way in which societies and their patriarchal values have spawned such acts of violence globally.

DVD (Color, Hindi) / 2015 / 62 minutes

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By Olivia Klaus

Life After Manson is an intimate portrait of one of the world's most infamous crimes and notorious killers. At 21 years old, Patricia Krenwinkel callously murdered three people at the command of Charles Manson. Now 66 years old, she continues to be demonized by the public and haunted by the suffering she caused over four decades ago. Through an exclusive interview with and never before seen footage of Krenwinkel, filmmaker Olivia Klaus (SIN BY SILENCE), frames a historically irreconcilable story through a complex emotional lens, offering insight into what led a suburban girl to commit crimes the world will never forget. A provocative and powerful character study, LIFE AFTER MANSON reveals a broken woman struggling with her past, her arduous effort to evaluate the cost of her choices, and the possibility of self-forgiveness.

DVD (Color, Black and White) / 2014 / 25 minutes

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Directed by Cynthia Hill

PRIVATE VIOLENCE explores a simple but deeply disturbing fact of American life: the most dangerous place for a woman in America is her own home. Every day in the U.S., at least four women are murdered by abusive (and often, ex) partners. Through the eyes of two survivors - Deanna Walters, a mother who seeks justice for the crimes committed against her at the hands of her estranged husband, and Kit Gruelle, an advocate who seeks justice for all women - we bear witness to the complex realities of intimate partner violence. Their experiences challenge entrenched and misleading assumptions, providing a lens into a world that is largely invisible; a world we have locked behind closed doors with our silence, our laws and our lack of understanding. PRIVATE VIOLENCE begins to shape powerful, new questions that hold the potential to change our society: "Why does he abuse?" "Why do we turn away?" "How do we begin to build a future without domestic violence?"

DVD (Color) / 2014 / 77 minutes

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By Karin Venegas

A deeply personal documentary, UNAFRAID gives voice to four, diverse rape survivors and takes a historic look back at the pioneering treatment center where they now receive counseling. In her directorial debut, Karin Venegas highlights the work of two unsung feminist heroes in the movement for victims' rights at the height of 1970s feminism and the Women's Movement. From breaking victims' silence to the revolutionary invention of the rape kit, this powerful film intimately explores the impact of rape and the capacity of ordinary individuals to effect change.

Although frequently referenced in popular culture, few audiences know of the rape kit's feminist origins. UNAFRAID is the first film to address the grassroots genesis of this important tool, which not only made it easier to convict in the criminal justice system but which helped shape our very cultural acceptance of rape as a serious crime, worthy of prosecution and compassionate treatment.

Together, UNAFRAID's collage of voices aims to lift the stigma that traps victims in silence íV and to remind its audience that social change is indeed possible. Essential viewing for Criminal Justice, Law and Women's Studies Classrooms.

DVD (Color) / 2014 / 44 minutes

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By Cecilia Peck, Inbal B. Lessner & Motty Reif

In October 1998, eighteen-year-old Linor Abargil was stabbed and raped while working as a model in Milan. Weeks later she was crowned Israel's first Miss World. Over the course of five years, director Cecilia Peck (Shut Up & Sing) follows Abargil, on a mission to confront the trauma of her past, including a hunt for other victims of the man who raped her, preventing his parole. Abargil, a poised, magnetic and supremely empathic advocate travels from Hollywood to rape crisis centers, American college campuses and the townships of South Africa to share her story and inspire others to confront shame and to heal. Emmy nominated BRAVE MISS WORLD is a call for justice and a startlingly honest portrayal of how personal tragedy can be transformed into a global awareness campaign against sexual violence.

DVD (Color) / 2013 / 88 minutes

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Directed by Lisa Davis Larry

The scars left by violence never go away. "When the Shooting Stops" portrays the journeys of four families after violent gun deaths or injuries change their lives forever. Each surviving family member takes a unique path of healing; some toward acceptance, some forgiveness, some actively promoting peaceful conflict resolution, and some having little resolution at all. In a variety of ways, many of them positive, the families give meaning to their own lives and to the life that was lost to violence.

The four families include: filmmaker Lisa Davis Larry's family involving her grandfather, Charles Caplin, a store owner killed during an armed robbery; Colonel (Ret.) and Mrs. Wilbert Bryant, the parents of Lisa Bryant, a cum laude Princeton University graduate and Army officer, who was shot and killed by an Army sergeant at Fort Bragg, North Carolina; the Hawkins family who lost two adult sons, Joe Hawkins and Gerald Roberts, in separate shootings; and the family of Gilbert Salinas, who survived a permanently debilitating shooting at a party, and his wife, Cindy who is herself a survivor of a drive-by shooting at age 12 while retrieving her mail.

Although violent news stories of shooting victims and grieving families can be seen every day, the personal stories of the families' recoveries are rarely made known. "When the Shooting Stops" puts faces, personalities, hopes and dreams to the survivors of gun violence, providing insights and actions that help the healing process while revealing the true cost of violence.

DVD / 2013 / 30 minutes

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Directed and Written by Mohamed El Aboudi

Dance of Outlaws is the story of the modern-day outlaws to whom society gives few chances. These women, working as wedding dancers, are from poor Moroccan families and have little education. They are rape victims, abandoned child brides, and daughters of prostitutes who live on the dangerous fringes of the society.

At age 14, Hind was raped. After her drug-dealing parents evicted her from her home in Morocco, she was forced to begin working as a prostitute and dancer. Now 22, Hind lives with her drug-addicted boyfriend Bilal in a shack with no electricity, toilet, running water, or proper windows.

On paper, Hind doesn't exist; she cannot access her birth certificate or apply for identification papers. Yet she is dreaming of a better future: marrying her boyfriend, getting back the children she's had to give up, and finding a job and proper home. But shortly after they become engaged, Bilal is arrested and sent to prison for 20 years, and Hind learns she is pregnant with her third child.

The film follows Hind and her friends Leila and Ahlam for more than a year, capturing their individual struggles for survival and the quest for a more stable, fulfilling life against the backdrop of the traditional Moroccan society.

DVD / 2012 / 59 minutes

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By Noga Ashkenazi

THE GREY AREA is an intimate look at women's issues in the criminal justice system and the unique experience of studying feminism behind bars.

Through a series of captivating class discussions, headed by students from Grinnell College, a small group of female inmates at a maximum women's security prison in Mitchellville, Iowa, share their diverse experiences with motherhood, drug addiction, sexual abuse, murder, and life in prison. The women, along with their teachers, explore the "grey area" that is often invisible within the prison walls and delve into issues of race, class, sexuality and gender.

DVD (Color) / 2012 / 65 minutes

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By Lida Chan and Guillaume Suon

The Killing Fields in Cambodia became known to the world but little is known about the struggles of the women left behind. From 1975-79, Pol Pot's campaign to increase the population forced at least 250,000 young Cambodian women to marry Khmer Rouge soldiers they had never met before. Sochan Pen was one of them. At 16, she was beaten and raped by her husband before managing to escape, though deeply scarred by her experience. After 30 years of silence, Sochan is ready to file a complaint with the international tribunal that will try former Khmer leaders. With quiet dignity, she starts demanding answers from those who carried out the regime's orders.

To tell a story little known outside Cambodia, Cambodian Lida Chan and French-Cambodian Guillaume Suon include Khmer Rouge era footage underscoring war's traumatic legacy for Sochan's generation of women. Awarded two prizes at Amsterdam's prestigious International Documentary Film Festival, RED WEDDING demonstrates the liberating power of speech and memory in the quest for justice.

DVD (Cambodian, Color) / 2012 / 58 minutes

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Has the Army ever covered up the rape and murder of a female soldier? Even worse, have they done so repeatedly?

At least 94 United States military women died overseas during the Iraq War. Of these deaths, some 20 occurred under suspicious circumstances with the additional characterization of "suicide."

The Silent Truth revolves around the death of 19-year-old US Army Private LaVena Johnson, who was found dead on the military base in Balad, Iraq, in July of 2005. The US Army determined her cause of death to be suicide by a self-inflicted M-16 gunshot.

From the day his daughter's body was returned to him, LaVena's father had grave suspicions about the Army's characterization of her death as suicide. Today her parents are continuing the fight to have their daughter's case reopened and are advocating for a congressional hearing into the cover-up. Through interviews with the Johnsons, The Silent Truth tells the story of the family's struggle to find the truth, and their continued pursuit of justice.

DVD / 2012 / 55 minutes

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By Karoline Frogner

During the 1994 genocidal campaign that claimed the lives of an estimated 800,000 Rwandans and committed atrocities against countless others, Daphrose Mukarutamu, a Tutsi, lost her husband and all but two of her 11 children. In the aftermath she considered suicide. But instead, she took in 20 orphans and started Duhozanye, an association of Tutsi and Hutu widows who were married to Tutsi men. This powerful documentary by award-winning Norwegian director Karoline Frogner recounts the story of Duhozanye's formation and growth - from a support group of neighbors who share their traumatic experiences, rebuild their homes, and collect and bury their dead, to an expanding member-driven network that advances the empowerment of Rwandan women. Featuring first-person accounts by Daphrose and other Duhozanye widows, the film shows association members helping women victims of rape and HIV/AIDS, running small businesses and classes in gender violence prevention, and taking part in national reconciliation through open-air people's courts where they can face, and often forgive, their loved ones' killers.

DVD (Kinyarwanda, Norwegian, Color) / 2011 / 52 minutes

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Directed by Kathy Barbini

This important documentary investigates the effects of child sexual abuse on three women's lives and illuminates their journey from pain and despair toward recovery and finally to working to end the cycle of child sexual abuse.

The Healing Years combines footage from interviews, reminiscences with family members, counseling groups, and home movies to share the women's poignant and difficult stories. The film profiles former Miss America Marilyn Derbur and her nationwide work as an advocate for victims' rights. It also features Janice Mirikitani, president of San Francisco's Glide Memorial Church, who works with inner-city individuals addicted to drugs and alcohol, and discovers that 90 percent of women in recovery were abused as children. Also profiled is Barbara Hamilton, a 79-year-old survivor who describes growing up in a household plagued by sexual abuse. She explains how these events gave rise to suicidal feelings, though she was eventually able to employ therapy to work through her pain and succeed at ending three generations of incest.

DVD / 2011 / 52 minutes

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By Deepa Dhanraj

In Southern India, family disputes are settled by Jamaats íV all male bodies which apply Islamic Sharia law to cases, without allowing women to be present, even to defend themselves. Recognizing this fundamental inequity, a group of women in 2004 established a women's Jamaat, which soon became a network of 12,000 members spread over 12 districts. Despite enormous resistance, they have been able to settle more than 8,000 cases to date, ranging from divorce to wife beating and brutal murders. Award-winning filmmaker Deepa Dhanraj (SOMETHING LIKE A WAR) follows several cases, shining a light on how the women's Jamaat has acquired power through both communal education and the leaders' persistent, tenacious and compassionate investigation of the crimes. In astonishing scenes we watch the Jamaat meetings, where women often shout over each other about the most difficult facets of their personal lives. Above all, the women's Jamaat exists to hold their male counterparts and local police to account, and to reform a profoundly corrupt system which allows men to take refuge in the most extreme interpretation of the Qur'an to justify violence towards women.

DVD (Color) / 2011 / 85 minutes

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By Mimi Chakarova

An unprecedented and compelling inquiry into a dark side of immigration so difficult to cover or probe with depth, THE PRICE OF SEX sheds light on the underground criminal network of human trafficking and experiences of trafficked Eastern European women forced into prostitution abroad. Photojournalist Mimi Chakarova's feature documentary caps years of painstaking, on-the-ground reporting that aired on Frontline (PBS) and 60 Minutes (CBS) and earned her an Emmy nomination, Magnum photo agency's Inge Morath Award, and a Webby for Internet excellence.

Filming under cover with extraordinary access, even posing as a prostitute to gather her material, Bulgarian-born Chakarova travels from impoverished rural areas in post-Communist Eastern Europe, including her grandmother's village, to Turkey, Greece, and Dubai. This dangerous investigative journey brings Chakarova face to face with trafficked women willing to trust her and appear on film undisguised. Their harrowing first-person accounts, as well as interviews with traffickers, clients, and anti-trafficking activists, expose the root causes, complex connections, and stark significance of sexual slavery today.

DVD (English/Russian/Turkish/Bulgarian, Color) / 2011 / 73 minutes

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By Daniel Junge and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy

SAVING FACE is a harshly realistic view of some incredibly strong and impressive women. Every year in Pakistan, many women are known to be victimized by brutal acid attacks, with numerous cases going unreported. With little or no access to reconstructive surgery, survivors are physically and emotionally scarred. Many reported assailants, typically a husband or someone else close to the victim, receive minimal punishment from the state.

Plastic surgeon Dr. Mohammad Jawad left his prominent London practice to return to his home country and help the victims of such attacks. Two of these women, Zakia and Rukhsana, are victims of brutal acid attacks by their husbands and in Rukhsana's case, her in-laws as well. Both attempt to bring their assailants to justice and move on with their lives with the help of NGOs, sympathetic policymakers, politicians, support groups with other acid attack victims and Dr. Jawad. SAVING FACE also depicts a Pakistan that is changing - one where ordinary people can stand up and make a difference and where marginalized communities can seek justice.

DVD (Color, Urdu, With English, Subtitles) / 2011 / 40 minutes

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By Shelley Saywell

Schoolgirl Aqsa Parvez, sisters Amina and Sarah Said, and college student Fauzia Muhammad were all North American teenagers - and victims of premeditated, murderous attacks by male family members. Only Muhammad survived. Emmy winner Shelley Saywell examines each case in depth in this riveting investigation of "honor killings" of girls in Muslim immigrant families. Not sanctioned by Islam, the brutalization and violence against young women for defying male authority derives from ancient tribal notions of honor and family shame.

As friends and relatives trace escalating tensions leading to the crimes, IN THE NAME OF THE FAMILY explores community reactions to the tragic events. The film also delves into the dual, precarious existence of other young Muslim women struggling to bridge two worlds, along with Muslim women's efforts to help girls at special risk. With consummate documentary skills and a passion for human rights, Saywell puts a much needed human face on a subject that is all too often silenced or sensationalized in post-9/11 North America.

DVD (Color) / 2010 / 90 minutes

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By Marcela Zamora Chamorro

MARIA IN NOBODY'S LAND is an unprecedented and intimate look at the illegal and extremely dangerous journey of three Salvadoran women to the US. Dona Ines, a 60 year old woman, has been looking for her daughter for five years and is following the same route her daughter took. Marta and Sandra, tired of the violence from their husbands and wanting to overcome poverty, decide to leave their families behind to travel to America - with only thirty dollars in their pockets. During their harrowing journey, the three women encounter prostitution, slave trade, rape, kidnapping and even death, in an unwavering quest for a better life.

In making this documentary, a team of six journalists and filmographers rode with migrants on the tops of trains and slept in migrant shelters. As the immigration debate continues to be a hot button issue, this film, which helps to bring understanding to these urgent issues, is essential for courses on human rights, Latin American studies, Chicano studies, immigration, labor, international studies and women's studies, as well as for public libraries and interested community groups.

DVD (Spanish, Color) / 2010 / 86 minutes

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By Pascale Bourgaux

This hard-hitting film is the first to cover the shocking story of sexual harassment and rape of American female soldiers. The Pentagon acknowledges that it received more than three thousand reports of sexual mistreatment in 2006 alone. These female soldiers were not attacked by the combat enemies, but rather by colleagues and supervisors in their own platoons.

Though the number of reported sexual assaults has skyrocketed over the past several years, the number of convictions has remained static: only 2 percent of accused rapists are ever court-martialed. The combined trauma of sexual abuse and combat appears to bear correlation to the results of a 2008 RAND study, which indicate that female veterans suffer twice the rate of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder as their male counterparts.

Though a culture of fear, secrecy, and hopelessness prohibits many women from speaking out, Rape in the Ranks shares the story of four young women and their families brave enough to talk openly about their ordeals. Unable to stand the nightmarish daily rapes by her commander in Iraq, Suzanne refused to report back for mission and was subsequently court-martialed. Jessica was raped in the United States and Korea and left the service, yet hopes to return and bring her attackers to justice. Stephanie has come to regret never reporting her own rape, hence perpetuating the culture of silence. Tina, who was raped in Iraq, supposedly "killed herself," but her mother remains convinced she was murdered. This film recounts the stories of their pain, shame, and uphill battle for justice.

DVD / 2010 / 30 minutes

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By Walter Astrada

In India, all women must confront the cultural pressure to bear a son. The consequences of this preference is a disregard for the lives of women and girls. From birth until death they face a constant threat of violence.

India is a diverse country, separated by class and ethnicity. But all women confront the cultural pressure to bear a son. This preference cuts through every social divide, from geography to economy.

This preference originates from the belief that men make money while women, because of their expensive dowry costs, are a financial burden. As a result, there is a near constant disregard for the lives of women and girls. From birth until old age, women face a constant threat of violence and too frequently, death.

The numbers are staggering. Since 1980, an estimated 40 million women are 'missing,' by way of abortion, neglect or murder. 7,000 female fetuses are aborted every day according to the U.N., aborted solely because they are girls. One dowry death is reported every 77 minutes. Countless others are never known.

The government has tried to intervene. Dowry and sex selective abortions are illegal. Yet both practices still thrive, in large part because of deep-rooted cultural prejudices.

Today, eighty percent of Indian states are now facing a shortage of women. To compensate for this differential, young, unknowing women are bought from surrounding countries like Bangladesh and sold to young bachelors. Not knowing a word of the language, these trafficked women now face the same kinds of violence as other Indian women.

DVD / 2010 / 12 minutes

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By Jonathan Torgovnik

In 1994, in the East African nation of Rwanda, one million ethnic Tutsi people were slaughtered, in a genocide committed by their Hutu countrymen. But the scars left by these murderous militiamen go well beyond the numbers of the dead: they live on, in the lives of the women they held captive, raped - and left pregnant.

Intended Consequences tells the stories of some of these women, victims of the sexual violence used as a weapon of war against them. Some 20,000 children were born as a result. Photojournalist Jonathan Torgovnik photographed and interviewed 30 women and their families, and has produced a piece of incredible complexity: how does a woman care for her child when it's the son or daughter of the man who raped her?

DVD / 2008 / 15 minutes

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