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5 Films to Understand Violence Against Women

Women for Women International continues the16 Days of Activism with  documentaries to educate our supporters and followers about the plight of systemic violence that many women around the world are constantly faced with.  

We are dedicated to helping women struggling against traditional systems to fully embrace their rights and believe that showing solidarity through seeking to learn about their experiences is #WhatMakesUsStronger.  

Please be advised that some scenes contain graphic detail of sexual violence, genocide and torture.  

calling the ghosts

Calling the Ghosts: A Story about Rape, War and Women (1997) 

While Nusreta Sivac was imprisoned at the Omarska concentration camp in Bosnia and Herzegovina, she made a promise to herself to expose the horrors she and 36 other women were subjected to if she survived. Her story of survival is told as Sivac, along with fellow activist Jadranka Cigelj, recount their experiences as survivors of the ethnic cleansing attempt by Bosnian Serb forces during the Bosnian war.  

Available at Kanopy



The Greatest Silence: Rape in the Congo (2007) 

Producer Lisa Jackson travels to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to interview women survivors of rape by rebel forces and soldiers, who used sexual torture and mutilation to terrorize women and enforce control over the communities they invaded. Contending with the physical and mental trauma of sexual violence without the assurance of consequences for their rapists, these women tell their stories and encourage Jackson to share them with “someone who will make a difference.”  

Available on YouTube 


Love crimes of kabul

Love Crimes of Kabul (2011) 

The documentary begins with a prison guard stating that if the detainees of the Badam Bagh Women’s Prison were “good women,” they would not be there. This remark sets the precedent for the examination of attitudes and beliefs which see the women of Kabul, Afghanistan punished for “moral crimes” like pre-marital sex, leaving their homes and adultery. One woman, who received a four-year sentence, says of the offense she committed: “I loved a boy, and I ran away with him.”  

Available on HBO Max 


no burqas behind bars

No Burqas Behind Bars (2012) 

In a society where women arrested for running away from their homes could receive harsher penalties than murderers, criminal justice for women in Afghanistan is explored at the Takhar prison. There, women are detained for romantic relationships, fleeing abusive partners or homes, and other “moral crimes” that have resulted in multiple year prison sentences. 

Available on YouTube 


The War Against Women (2013) 

war against women

Directed by Hernan Zin, The War Against Women is a moving documentary that explores the prevalence of sexual violence against women in war zones with ongoing conflict. The lives of women survivors from Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda are documented as they share their experiences of kidnapping, detainment and brutal sexual assault by the military forces who invaded their communities.  

Available on Netflix