MOVIES are a great medium to raise awareness about gender-based violence. Through the world of movies, a powerful message is often relayed to society at large.  There are many socially conscience film makers who have taken the responsibility to bring real life issues onto celluloid. 

Based on true stories, Dry is a 2014 Nigerian drama directed by Stephanie Okereke-Linus that explores the impact of child marriage on families. 

The film centres on the story of a 13-year-old girl, Halima (Zubaida Ibrahim Fagge), whose poor uneducated parents marry her off to Sani (Tijjani Faraga), a 60-year-old man who frequently rapes her in the so-called marriage. 

Halima becomes pregnant and suffers a vesicovaginal fistula after child delivery. She starts to experience a continuous lack of voluntary control over her urination, and consequently, is abandoned by her husband and discriminated against in her community. 

Zara (Stephanie Okereke), a medical doctor who had a similarly traumatic childhood, meets Halima and tries to help her and other young women and girls facing similar experiences.

A Girl from Mogadishu is the story of how real-life social activist Ifrah Ahmed “came to understand, develop, and employ the most potent of campaign tools – her own true story – and use it to empowering and extraordinary effect.” 

Ahmed fled war-torn Somalia in 2006 and was trafficked to Ireland, where a traumatic medical examination revealed the extent of her genital mutilation as a child. Traumatised by the memory, she channels the experience into a force for change.

Ahmed is now one of the world’s leading international activists against gender-based violence and female genital mutilation (FGM).

There is no doubt that gender-based violence is a profound and widespread problem in Africa and affects almost every aspect of life. Women and girls are disproportionately affected by sexual and gender-based violence, which is deeply embedded in establishments, cultures, and traditions.

For decades, the Democratic Republic of Congo has experienced war and widespread insecurity. Women and girls are most affected by this instability, as with many crises. 

According to the nongovernmental organisation Mercy Corps, one in 10 women and girls in the DRC experienced sexual violence in 2016.

As part of the Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice campaign to end gender-based violence (GBV), the Women’s Initiatives produced a 2012 film, Our Voices Matter featuring women and girls from North Kivu, South Kivu, and the Province Orientale.  

A call to action, the film calls for justice, medical and economic assistance, and effective legislation to prevent and address sexual and gender-based violence.

Recently, several young men got to watch the movie “What About The Boys?” which champions the anti-gender-based violence movement in South Africa.

This movie is part of a national programme that aims to cultivate a generation of men who understand the importance of gender equity and respect for all.

Movies cause people to stop, think and have conversations. It forces people to analyse their thought process. It brings understanding and reflection. Movies have become an educational tool for both men and women – as Ahmed rightly points out, A Girl From Mogadishu” is based on my story – but it is also the story of the 200 million women and girls worldwide who have suffered the consequences of female genital mutilation. 

And while the movie is intended to focus attention on the barbarism and scale of the practice, its ambition is also to empower all young women and girls to have the courage to stand up and speak out.”


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