Eye-Opening, Heartbreaking Documentary
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Release Date: April 22, 2014
Format: DVD, 90 minutes
About the Film (Publisher Synopsis)
This gripping new documentary film tells the untold story of millions of women in India who are culturally oppressed for no other reason than the fact that they are women. However, despite the centuries of oppression, there are those who are reaching out and trying to change the culture towards women, from the inside out. These are the faces of true survivors. Those who have withstood a lifetime of adversity in the face of a culture stacked against them.
Take a heartfelt journey through the eyes of these women, and others, who unveil their personal stories of persecution, rejection, abandonment, tragedy and even triumph. Get a glimpse of the true resilience of the human spirit and the hope that has changed the lives of millions like these and is helping change millions more. Narrated by Grammy-Nominated Recording Artist Natalie Grant, this film was shot on-location across the stunning nation of India in some of the most remote tribal villages in the world today. This is a journey where few outsiders have gone before.
Legends or myths are stories which have an element of truth. They often recount a version of historical events. Sometimes the distance between that fiction and the truth is so vast that it’s an enormous gulf. To illustrate such a point, this documentary begins by relating, in grand fairy tale fashion, the story of the building of the Taj Mahal. Legend has it that the Taj Mahal was built by emperor Shah Jahan as a tribute to his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died giving birth to their 14th child. This romanticized tale of a king who was so stricken with grief that he erected an extravagant monument and memorial for his princess lies in stark contrast to the reality of life in present day India.
Despite Mahatma Gandhi’s tireless efforts to break the yoke of Britain’s colonial rule and secure freedom for India, and though it is the world’s largest democracy, India’s people are far from free. And of those people, women suffer under the most egregious forms of oppression and abuse.
India’s culture is based on an ancient caste system wherein birth (family name) determines one’s status and place in the world. From birth to death, one’s fate is unchangeable and inescapable. India’s religion helps support and perpetuate this belief; the people develop a fatalistic view which offers no chance, or hope, for change in this lifetime.
For the vast majorities living in rural villages and slums, to be female is to be unwanted. Women cannot earn money so they are not valuable to their families. On the flip side, due to a still actively practiced dowry system (which legislation supposedly outlawed in 1961), a girl is a tremendous burden to her family. A desperate poverty causes families to abort, kill, or abuse their daughters, or to sell them into prostitution.
Though Bollywood and Hollywood tend to glamorize Indian culture and Indian weddings, for millions of Indian women their wedding is no fairy tale of happily ever after. Many children are married off as soon as they experience their first menstrual period. Culturally, it is tolerated for a husband to abuse his wife, as she is no more than property to him. Should she give birth to a girl, he may ask her not to feed the child or to kill it. Should the family not approve the marriage, or wish to escape the shame of a poor connection, they may poison, immolate, or otherwise murder her. Should her husband have debts, he may prostitute her by sending her to the house of another man. She is denied education and likely is illiterate. And should her husband die before she does, his death will provide no relief. Even if she had nothing to do with it, she will be blamed for his death, ostracized, and left penniless and homeless to fend for herself with no assistance and no friends. Left to die.
Rape and suicide are rampant. And rape goes largely unreported due to the accompanying cultural shame. If it should be known that a woman was raped, how could she secure a husband? Rape has become such an epidemic that it’s happening during daylight in the urban areas, even on public transportation.
The heartbreaking first half of this film presents these harsh realities through personal anecdotes. The virtual tour through the different regions of India lets you see first hand how these people live. You see into all the overlooked, forgotten places. Places from which Indian society turns a blind eye. Places that should only exist in nightmares and horror stories, but which are altogether too real. Lands dominated by mud and dirt with people living in cardboard, with tin or plastic roofs, washing their clothes and themselves in the same water used by livestock.
The second half of the film offers some hope by showing organizations and groups of people on the ground, spreading God’s message and God’s love. These people — primarily widows, orphans, desperate women who sold their children, or women who were abused, raped, or themselves sold, find a place where they are welcomed. Where they are loved, perhaps for the first time. And many of these people, largely women, are trained to go out and reach others. In largely segregated areas, these women may be the only ones able to reach other women in need.
Though these organizations and people have limited resources, and though the immensity of the problem cannot be easily overcome, important inroads are being made. Families are able to feed their children, health education is given, and wells provided so that people can wash properly. Skills like sewing and basket weaving are taught to women, by women, so that they can take care of themselves. Children are taught reading and math. Literacy efforts are in place to teach adults to read as well. Minds and lifeways are being changed. It will take much time, money, and continued effort, but hopefully the movement will grow and the lives of future girls and women will be improved.
— Dawn Teresa
4.5 of 5 Hearts. Eye-Opening, Heartbreaking Documentary.
Veil of Tears opens viewers eyes while shinning a spotlight into the dark, unspoken places of Indian society. I urge you, even if you do not buy or view this film, to educate yourself on the plight of Indian women (and Asian women at-large). And once your eyes are opened, please look into your heart and find a way to help enact change.*Disclosure of Material Connection: I received the above DVD for free from Edify Media in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”