The title resonates so well with « eLLes des Femmes »’ mission, doesn’t it ? The Paris team was eager to see this movie from director Barbara Miller.
#This documentary stresses a portrait of five women, in five countries, who rise up against the violence and discrimination that have been imposed on them and from which they have freed themselves. They decided, each in their own way, to start a fight for the respect of women’s sexuality.
Leila, from Somalia, lives in London. She has been excised during her childhood, and condemns with endless determination and pain these sexual mutilations from which more than 200 million women in the world are victims (WHO estimates). Excision is a sexual assault wilfully ignored by most societies and politics, and which also exists in Europe where half a million women have undergone these genital mutilations. Each year, nearly 180,000 girls are at risk. In England, where these statistics are available, there are 1300 cases of mutilation per year.
Day after day, Leila has to relive her pain to educate new and old generations and to condemn a crime against humanity … Why must we justify the harm that is done when we mutilate our children? In the name of tradition, in the name of this disproportionate hatred that societies have developed towards the pleasure of women.
Rokudenashiko, a crazy Japanese artist, makes us smile and laugh every time she appears on the screen. She seems to be from another planet. While following her in her everyday life, we realize that we have never really experienced Equality. She has such a combative and creative mindset in this society where modernism and traditions still cohabit in constant opposition.
In front of her incomprehension as for the hypocrisy and taboo surrounding women’s genitalia, she decides to use her vulva as a source of inspiration. Therefore, she creates a « vulva boat » shaped like her own vagina, which will allow her to literally navigate the waves of hypocrisy in the japanese’ society.
Thereafter, she is incarcerated and tried for « contempt of decency ». The artist takes us with her to the streets of Tokyo, where women are represented as sexual beings, straight out of the imagination of men, ready to be taken, docile and a little stupid. The Japanese sexshops are full of penis mussels, celebrating this organ of male pleasure alongside abracadabrantesque membranes supposed to represent the vagina but which, like Rokudenashiko, seem to come from another planet.
Deborah, raised in the Hassidic Jewish community of New York, forced into marriage to a stranger at the age of 17 (what Leila denounces as legal pedophilia), gave birth to her first child in a community that does not grant her any right to exist as an independent human being. She decides to flee and will be the first Hasidic woman to obtain the exclusive custody of her son, freed from any influence of the community after denouncing the archaic practices still in place in the middle of her hometown.
In India, Vithika, sexually assaulted several times by strangers, decides to create « Love Matter », a platform dedicated to love, consent, sexual equality and pleasure. She also works with men and women of this new generation who feel this need for change.
The shy Doris, a German who joined the religious orders, talks about the rapes she suffered in her community where she thought she was protected from the outside world. Ironically, the aggressor is a priest who has never been suspended, despite the countless and desperate accusations and cries for help made by Doris to all levels of the Christian hierarchy.
By acknowledging the outrageous events that these women have faced, it is shocking to see that, regardless of their religion, whether they are Christian, Jewish, Muslim … each of these religions generate an absolute sexism when they are used in their most traditional dogmas.
Despite all this, we follow these women, who are so ordinary in their lives, but yet become extraordinary in the life choices they have made. All were humiliated, degraded, reduced to less than human. All were deprived of their freedoms, their rights and society, since some men, legally and openly invaded boith their physical and psychic integrity. Some of them remained silent at first, in a desperate need to escape reality, and because of an insidious feeling of guilt against which they could not fight, the degrading image of themselves that was imposed on them.
But they talked. They dared to be free and denounce those dogmas based on women’s oppression. We discover a strengh that seems limitless and which revives our faith in Humanity.
Thanks to these women, reconstruction is possible. So why not adding our own stone ?
One question remains unanswered …
« What happened billions of years ago that men felt the right to attack our bodies, control us, mutilate us, strike us? … « – (Leila).
Five heroines, five countries, even fight: to be freed from prejudices, and to end violence against women.
Abderrahman, Sarah et Céline pour les eLLes