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Drafting a New Story: Women's Rights in the Middle East

Submissions Welcome! Please submit your original pieces of non-fiction, fiction, poetry, art, or political analysis.

The Human Rights Film Festival taking place in Beirut from January 27-30, 2011 is going to feature a day of films focusing on women’s rights in the Arab World! Here’s a quick preview of the films selected for screenings.  For more information, visit their website here.

27 January 2011 – Women’s rights
“My Nationality is a Right for me and My Family” by the Collective for Research and Training on Development-Action (CRTD.A), 2007, Arabic / English subtitles

If an Arab woman marries a foreign national she is not entitled to pass her nationality to her spouse and children. This is not the case for Arab men who are allowed by law to pass their nationality to both their spouses and their children.
Across the Machreq-Maghreb countries, women are being denied their universal right to nationality. They do not have the same legal entitlements to citizenship as men. The inability to extend her nationality not only denies a woman her full rights as a national, but also denies her children their basic rights as human beings. This exclusion may deny children basic rights to health care and education, or to marriage or travel. Furthermore, children excluded from nationality rights can be denied residence and deported, thus breaking families apart.

“My Nationality is a Right for Me and My Family” campaign (Jinsiyati 7ak li wa li Osrati) tries to put women’s-basic-right-to-nationality under the spot light; Its major goal is to amend the nationality code in Lebanon as well as in other Arab countries.


“About Latifa and Others…” by Farah Sami Fayed, Future News Production in cooperation with Kafa (enough) Violence & Exploitation, 54 min, 2010, Arabic / English subtitles
Latifah Kassir was killed. Her death was not the most tragic part of her story. At the beginning, ten years of marriage to an abusive husband, and later a traumatizing divorce process that left her and her two children at the mercy of a violent drug addict, unjust laws and an alienating society.
There were days, towards the end, when she believed she can write a new story for herself and her family. She was wrong. On a sunny April morning in 2010, her ex, Ibrahim strangled her to death with a towel in her house.

It was her children, who discovered her a few hours later, when they came home from school.

It is this story, and that of two other female victims of abuse that About Latifa and Others tells. Another of the film’s character, Amina Beydoun, was also killed by her husband, while the third, Almaza Hourani, has been the victim of a legal system that rarely gives justice to women.


“Survivor”, by Kafa (enough) Violence & Exploitation, funded by the Italian cooperation/Italian Embassy in Beirut, 6:25 min, 2008, Arabic / English subtitles

“Survivor” is a combination of drama and live testimonies of Lebanese women, who are beneficiaries of Kafa (Enough) Violence & Exploitation’s Listening and Counselling Center. The film highlights the legal obstacles faced by each woman victim of domestic violence and shows how the absence of a specific law that protects women from domestic violence limits, in many cases, the chances of women to become “survivors” of violence.


“For you” by Mirna, Nidaa, Ruwaida, Almaza, Lina, trainer Cindrella Mizher, “Multimedia Virtual Space for Human Rights” project funded by the EU and carried on by COSV, KAFA, PPM and CLDH, 6 min, 2010, Arabic / English subtitles

A group of women discussing their custody experiences with each other… They demand a just law that assures equality to all of us.
This documentary was done during a workshop with 25 women beneficiaries of the Ngo Kafa (enough) Violence & Exploitation.


“The Adventures of Salwa”, created and directed by Amanda Abou Abdallah, Designed and animated by Wahm productions –Helene Sawma with the support of the Netherlands Embassy in Lebanon, Nasawaiya – Indyact, 1:30 min, 2010, Arabic / English subtitles

Salwa is an average Lebanese woman who is sick of sexual harassment that has become part of her daily life and decided to take matters into her own hands. Her superpower lies in her bag.
Salwa is the mascot and the image of the Anti-Harassment Campaign launched by a group of young feminists.
We’ve had enough of the sexual harassment (verbal, and physical) we face on the streets, in public transportation, in our homes, schools and jobs.

“CEDAW” by Mirna, Afaf, Samar, Sona, Samar, trainer Cindrella Mizher, “Multimedia Virtual Space for Human Rights” project funded by the EU and carried on by COSV, KAFA, PPM and CLDH, 7:50 min, 2010, Arabic / English subtitles

Within any discussion about women’s rights, an international convention always seems to pop up…
We wanted to know more about it in our society, so we went to the streets and talked to people.
A group of 25 women participated in making this film and they are all beneficiaries of the Ngo Kafa (enough) Violence & Exploitation.


“A house among many houses” by Sana Atrissi, 15 min, 2010, Arabic / English subtitles

A thousand mile journey starts with one step and breaking the silence in an entire society starts with one woman. She decided blow a whistle in a deeply patriarchal society on a taboo subject: sexual harassment. A journey that starts with one family travels to every home



“Empty Talk” by Amanda Abou Abdallah, 11 min, 2009, Arabic / English subtitles

5 Lebanese women talking about their inner struggles, fears, dreams and self-image.
Each one has a different story to tell but somehow they are all connected.
Awards and Festivals: 16th European film festival 2009 – Winner of best short film; 3rd NDU film festival, Lebanon 2009 – Winner of 2nd prize; 5th Monaco film festival 2010 – Official selection; 8th student film festival 2010 – official selection; 18th Damascus international film festival 2010 – official competition



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