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Film On Witch-hunts In Zambia Hoped To Curb Attacks On Women | The Precision

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An award-winning British film
about witch-hunts in Zambia could play an important role in curbing
violence against women if translated into local languages and
distributed widely, according to human rights campaigners. 

The
film “I Am Not A Witch” – which tells the story of an eight-year-old
Zambian girl accused of being a witch – was named the most outstanding
debut film on Sunday at Britain’s top film awards, the BAFTAs. 
Welsh-Zambian
director Rungano Nyoni spent a month in a so-called “witch camp” in
Ghana to research the low budget film about a girl banished from her
village to stay with other women also branded as witches. 
Campaigners
said films about often overlooked abuse of women – such as female
genital mutilation and child marriage – helped raise awareness about the
reality of these practices and could help bust myths and false
narratives spanning decades. 
“Films
on under reported or little known gender abuses are very important as
they can bring these often hidden issues to the public’s attention and
force them into the light,” said Shelby Quast, director of the charity
Equality Now. 
“Bringing these stories to light can help
survivors, civil society and communities to hold their government and
duty bearers to account.” 
Millions of women and girls in
countries ranging from India and Pakistan to Tanzania, Kenya and
Nigeria are still branded witches – often by their relatives or
neighbours – in a bid to usurp their land or inheritance, say
campaigners. 


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In many cases, victims are elderly widowed
women who are humiliated, beaten, stripped and ostracised from their
communities. Sometimes they are lynched.
Children are
also targeted with their parents and communities misled into battering,
maiming, drowning, burning and abandoning them. 
“In the
African context, witch branding usually leads to alienation of women
from the community and this denies her rights to own land or even
inherit it and reduces her ability to fend for herself,” said ActionAid
Kenya’s Philip Kilonzo. 
“It is increasingly becoming a
practice in some communities to lynch witches which leads to further
violation of their rights by denying them the right to life.” 
Activists said it was key that films addressing these issues were seen where it mattered most.
“The
use of films can be limiting in challenging such forms of violence
against women as films speak to the privileged in the society, yet
issues such as witch branding happen in the very remote rural areas and
informal settlements in urban areas,” said Makena Mwobobia, ActionAid
Kenya’s Head of Policy. 
“However, if translated into the
local languages, the same films can be used to speak to the emotions
and the core of the community and hence touch on their individual
character for behavioural change.”  (Thomson Reuters Foundation)

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