Honor Diaries: A Real Conversation on Women’s Rights or a Scratch on the Surface?

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In April 2011, Faleh Hassan Almaleki, an Iraqi immigrant to the United States, was sentenced to 34.5 years in prison for killing his 20 year-old daughter for becoming "too westernized." The case was deemed an "honor killing" because the daughter, according to the dad, dishonored the whole family. This story is one of many presented by the film Honor Diaries, a recently launched film project directed by Micah Smith, and produced by Paula Kweskin, Heidi Basch-Harod and Alex Traiman. The film … [Read more...]

Who Will Defend the Defenders? Gambian Activists Face Smear Campaign

Dr. Isatou Touray and Amie Bojang Sissoho are two prominent women’s human rights defenders in the Gambia. They are the executive director and program coordinator of the Gambia Committee for Traditional Practices (GAMCOTRAP), which has been active in fighting for the promotion of gender rights, mainly fighting against the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM). Recently, both women were arrested and imprisoned by the Gambian government. They were recently released on bail and stand trial … [Read more...]

FGM in Kristof and WuDunn’s Half the Sky

After watching Moolaadé, I recalled that I had come across a story several months ago of how FGM is combated in Senegal in Kristof and WuDunn’s Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, released in 2009. Kristof and WuDunn devote the thirteenth chapter of the book (chapter: “Grassroots vs. Treetops”) to looking at an organization, Tostan, that works to “empower African communities to bring about sustainable development and positive social transformation” … [Read more...]

FGM in Sembene’s Moolaadé

Moolaadé, directed by the Senegalese filmmaker Ousmane Sembene and released in 2004,tells the story of a group of young African Muslim girls who have refused to undergo a “purification” ceremony in an African village. The girls seek protection (“moolaadé”) from a woman, Colle (played by actress Fatoumata Coulibaly), who finds the practice abhorrent and is sympathetic to the girls’ pleas.  What ensues is a story of impending social change—the intertwining of the media, cultural … [Read more...]


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