Sorry for the long hiatus! I have been working on research for the upcoming festival before WVN begins work on PR, advertising for submissions, and more for Women Bought and Sold: Voices United Against the Violence, which will discuss sex trafficking, slavery, domestic servitude, and child brides while providing an international platform for activists to showcase both the plight and the relentless struggle of exploited women. These human rights violations have become increasingly common, largely because victims lack support, oppressors are not held accountable, and individuals too often turn a blind eye. WVN hopes to display the role of women in Muslim-majority countries, and of Islam itself, in eradicating such injustices and to develop the extending network committed to achieving equality.
My research topics have included: possible film judges based on the kinds of judges we had last year, possible sponsors based on our current sponsors, and recent data on the sexualized violence in Muslim-majority countries (49, if I’m not mistaken). I’ve also been tweeting for WVN (I get excited when I see likes and retweets). So, I’m afraid there are no wonderful pictures thus far, unless you like pretty Excel sheets! My executive director has been promoting WVN with other interns in Morocco, Israel and the West Bank. You can learn more on our Tumblr.
I will have more to discuss when I meet with my executive director, who has recently returned. Thus far, I think the most rewarding aspect to the research that I’ve done is 1) finding all who are dedicated to creating awareness about these grave and prevalent issues and 2) the determination and courage of women living in these countries who not only seek to survive but to change their world and tell their story through art, film, and the power of story. It’s these inspiring aspects of my research that keep me going when my eyes glaze over as I read depressing statistics on trafficking and sexual assault. The data alone cannot explain what is happening in Muslim-majority countries. The women film directors, activists, writers, and artists breathe life and hope into the statistics. Even though the status quo is dire and depressing, hope for a better future is kept alive and made possible by so many women, including Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan. She is addressing the United Nations today to advocate widespread education for children. Malala and so many other women remain an inspiration to me. The coexistence of grave human rights abuses and tremendous leaders in my work reminds me of a quote: “I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night” (Sarah Williams, The Old Astronomer to His Pupil, mid-1800s).