On Sunday, Feb 3rd we had a private film-screening event at Dorset Park Community Hub where we all got to see our documentary The Right is Ours. While waiting for others, we also got to watch some youtube videos (mostly by Lily Singh, who also goes by the name ‘Superwoman.’ This was fun and had us all laughing. When watching the documentary afterwards we got to reflect not only how we got to meet many great young individuals but how we got to learn about consent and forced marriages. It was nice to see how the documentary actually turned out and how our movement was proceeding. We have all been taught some skills that would help out a friend, co-worker, colleague or any acquaintance if they were ever to be put in an unfortunate situation like that. Now we all know the basics of who to contact and how to work around certain obstacles. In addition to what we learned throughout the workshops we got to participate in an activity facilitated by Raheena Dahya, a lawyer who has worked with cases of forced marriages in the U.K. She got us to put ourselves in the shoes of a parent,
spouse and friend in the situation of a forced marriage and give some more insight on everyone`s point of view in it. It was a really eye opening experience. She also explained different types of laws involved such as tort, criminal and civil. She also told us about some of the cases she dealt with as she had a lot of experience as a lawyer and reminded us that in reality, we may not always be able to help a person in a forced marriage situation and that was fine. Forced Marriage Project Coordinator Shirley Gillett also told about her experience working with the Forced Marriage Project and read her poem called “Life Sentence.” — Rammya Ilankannan
“A Day to Strike, Dance and Rise…”
The V Day event was a hit! On February 14th, I had the opportunity to help host the Forced Marriage Project’s One Billion Rising event. It was an inspirational event which gave me a whole new outlook on how to celebrate Valentine’s Day. This event consisted of a variety of entertainment including singing, dancing, and spoken word.
We started with some live music played by volunteers and my fellow host Rammya. As chairs started to fill we encouraged people to write about why they are rising. This exercise gave me the opportunity to see the diverse reasons why people chose to attend. I was surprised to see so many men at the event in support of their mothers, sisters or significant others. It made me smile because this event should not be seen as one-sided. It is an event focused on equality and humanity, but more specifically a push against the objectification of women.
Some of the highlights of the event for me were the two spoken word pieces done by Shirley Gillett and Chantelle Walters. Shirley’s piece was particularly engaging because of the way it was delivered. The piece was written in a spiral, as one sentence with one single period. This means it has to be read as a single run on sentence with little breaths between words. Shirley explained that the piece was meant to make the listener feel dizzy and overwhelmed which was exactly how I felt! The piece, in my opinion, was very unique because instead of addressing the issues directly, it presented them with sarcasm and blame. I understood it as society blaming the woman for the assault she has endured, as if she brought rape upon herself with the way she dressed or acted. It was a protest to rape culture.
The second piece written by Chantelle Walters, describe the life of a young girl in India, involved in the sex-trafficking industry. She intertwined the young girls’ story with the popular kindergarten song, the “Rainbow song,” using the colors to describe the unfortunate events. This was brilliant! The contrast of the song and the words showed that the girls’ innocence and purity was being stripped, used and corrupted. I don’t think I’ll ever think of that song the same way again.
Being a host of this event was a learning experience. Before this event, II did not know of Eve Ensler’s work in the Congo and India. I did not know of the One Billion Rising Campaign or that it was happening worldwide. When I first heard of the campaign, I did some research and found people rising in Germany, Spain, Romania and Ethiopia! Obviously I wasn’t aware that I was part of something so empowering! This was one Valentine’s Day I will never forget. — Mariah Carty