No man said women have the right to live without fear of death as punishment

Media women can prioritise revealing the impact on women when telling stories, along with the impact on the other half of the population, but we cannot make assumptions.

Media practitioners also need to know how their audience might receive the intended message. 

The murders of women in so-called honor (honour) killings – even if the woman is a victim of domestic violence, rape or incest – are supposedly for the honor or reputation of family. They are seen broadly, and not entirely accurately, as problems of Middle Eastern and south Asian countries.

However, French legal codes allowing the murder of unfaithful wives and their lovers, formed the basis of laws in about 15 Middle Eastern countries which allow ‘honor’ as mitigation against a femicide.  France abolished that code in the mid-seventies but calls by Arab women activists to repeal such laws have not received mass community support, and continue largely to fall upon deaf government ears.

So dissemination and education about such murders is an imperative, but media practitioners need to know how audiences will engage with their productions.

IAWRT Palestine member Benaz Batrawri recently presented such a paper entitled TV audience reception and honor killing: Meaning production and gender interpretations at AlNajah University in Nanlus city in the West Bank. It found that religious and civic law were not the only determinant factors in how an audience received a production focusing on honor killing.

The research was part of a MA thesis for Leicester University in the UK in 2008, and the summary was published in BirZeit University Review of Women Studies 2010; but Benaz says is still very relevant in Palestine where President Mahmoud Abbas has only repealed parts of a penal code that allows short sentences for the murders that might be only months or a few years.

Five women died in honor killings in the Palestinian territories in 2011. That number rose to 13 in 2012 and doubled to 26 in 2013. Amnesty International estimates that least 18 women and girls were victims of such killings in 2015-6. However, such figures are notoriously underestimated, can be disguised by forced suicides and contract killings, and do not include the deliberate disfigurement of women.

Benaz’s study focused on audience reception to two documentary and drama films by Palestinian filmmakers. Interestingly, men related more to the documentary form than women, who were drawn to drama. Women had sympathy for all characters/victims, but men qualified sympathy, depending on the circumstances. 

The summary she presented to the conference, attached below, revealed that all the viewers understood the films were trying to fight violence against women.  However, she told the conference “Not one man in the discussions stated that women should not be judged, have the absolute right to own and control their bodies, and the right to live without the fear of death as punishment.”



The only festival in India solely dedicated to showcasing works by Asian women, the 13th IAWRT Asian Women’s Film Festival, this year premiered the IAWRT 2017 documentary, Velvet Revolution. The three day gathering in New Delhi from 2-4 March, 2017 was at the India International Centre, 40, Max Mueller Marg.

The festival included curated sections on animated films, artists’ film and aideo, soundphiles and two seminars. The first, entitled “Making Records: Documenting Feminsims” explored women who have documented feminist narratives of the present and the past. The second panel, entitled “Women Reporting on Violence Against Women” looked at how women reporters have been filing ground-breaking stories on gender-based violence.

The full schedules and curators notes are availabe for download below. 

17 films were selected from over 200 entries and a range of genres were featured. The curators say that the selected films speak to multiple ideas and form. 

The viewing day began with Jordanian Asma Bseiso’s film, Lissa Aisha.

It was filmed over many years following an abandoned child and now woman, Aisha, who survived 18 years in orphanages and foster homes, to forge her own life. The title in Arabic means literally “Still Alive”. 

The feature film for the official opening in the evening was the documentary film Here the Seats are Vacant (Inja Sandaliha khalist) about a famous dancer and actress Shahrzad, exploited as a child before an award winning career, then imprisoned after the Islamic revolution and institutionalized in a mental hospital. Now at 72 , she is dealing with her life in a small village in Iran.

Velvet Revolution, IAWRT’s 2017 Long documentary produced by Nupur Basu with Pochi Tamba Nsoh, Sidonie Pongmoni, Deepika Sharma, Ilang-Ilang Quijano & Eva Brownstein will had its first public showing at the New Delhi gathering on March 3rd. It was filmed in Cameroon, India, the Philippines, USA and, UK and features women in their own countries and in exile who have worked in dangerous and war-torn areas to communicate stories of importance. In this exciting collaborative film the six women directors take their lens up-close to women making news. They includes the award winning Syrian journalist, Zaina Erhaim, now living in exile in southern Turkey, to a young journalist from Philippines Kimberlie Ngabit Quitasol, and Bonya Ahmed, the wife of slain Bangladesh blogger, Avijit Roy. The documentary profiles women journalists who have paid a high price for speaking truth to power.

The closing film of the festival League of Exotique Dancers is a playful look at women burlesque dancers in their sixties and seventies who revisit the arena of their performance and the lives they lived.

Media coverage by Namrata Joshi in The Hundu Sunday Magazine.

Further information: Blog Facebook 



Elections and the future direction of IAWRT

The IAWRT board is urgently seeking member input about improving election procedures for the international board and for views on the organization’s work.

The issue has been a big part of recent member meetings, in New Delhi, India in 2016 and in Johannesburg, South Africa, 2017.Member input on how we can modernize the election process in the best and fairest manner is now being collated. The deadline to submit your views is 28 February 2017. Members may make any election suggestions to [email protected] reply to ELECTION PROCESS- YOUR VIEWS NEEDED or use that as the title for your email.

Suggested points to address (this is not exhaustive): How can we enable more member voting?  Currently about 10 per cent of paid up members who physically attend Biennial conferences can vote: Nomination process – Should we continue new nominations from the floor? (how could online voting or voting by email then work?);The role of the nomination committee? Should they just present nominated candidates or propose candidates for positions?; Is a new election procedure so important that the board should recommend waiving rules for changing statutes, to allow a new election process in 2017?

Members are also being asked to participate in a survey which is part of an external evaluation of IAWRT being funded by the IAWRT’s key funder, FOKUS Norway. Its main aim is to identify and assess our structure and capacity in light of our organizational and programmatic goals.

IAWRT President Gunilla Ivarsson (pictured above with Cambodian Chapter Vice-President: Ms Kim Thidakallianey) says the resulting report will be ready well before the 2017 Biennial conference and will provide an excellent tool for organizational development. It will be discussed at a workshop during the biennial members meeting.

It will take a small amount of time to fill in the survey, in order to influence the direction of IAWRT and contribute to building IAWRT for the future. If you have not received a link via email, contact [email protected]. An alternative Word version of the survey is available here, and may be filled in and sent to [email protected] before March 9th!

Members may make any election suggestions to [email protected]. Reply to the email; ‘Election Process- Your Views Needed’ or use that as the title for your email. 

Rebecca Tadesse Hunde

Location: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Name of job: Program producer, educator,

What type of projects do you do?

Produce and host a weekly radio program and giving training to school students (mini-media members).

Why did this sort work interest you, and how did you get started?

Journalism is the only profession that I wished to join and be involved with since I can remember. For the last 15 years, I have been doing work in all sorts of media outlets, photojournalism, reporting, radio program producing, and magazine publishing. I have written several articles about women and girls’ rights in local newspapers in collaboration with EMWA – Ethiopian Media Women’s Association.

What part of this job do you personally find most satisfying? Most challenging?

I am always satisfied when my interviewee starts to relax and pour their hearts out, telling their story, trusting us to get it out. In contrast, what I have found the be challenging is keeping up with the audience needs because it’s so vast and different.

What do you like and not like about working in this industry?

I really like to tell a story, to talk about new things and inform people about their surroundings and beyond.

My strongest assets/skills, areas of knowledge, personality traits and values are….

I easily adapt and can work with new technologies, I am very patient when I do a program or collect information for an article. I respect the profession so much, so I always try to be ethical, respectful and careful not to affect other’s rights during interviews.

Has IAWRT’s network of media women around the world helped or inspired you?

Since I joined the Association in 2007, every meeting, workshop and seminar was very important and inspirational. Mostly meeting and knowing the most experienced women in the industry from all over the world helps me to realize and know there are so many things which can be done in a variety of ways.

What are your long-term goals?

To have my own show that can encourage, motivate and inspire children, mothers and parents.

What special advice do you have for young women seeking to qualify for this type of work?

Commit to the profession, love what you do, keep updating yourself with new technologies and information, never stop learning, never stop dreaming.

Do you have any special words of warning, or encouragement, because of your experience?

Go out and test your ability, don’t be scared, don’t be afraid of failure because it teaches you so many things.


13th IAWRT Asian Women Film Festival, 2-4 March. India International Centre, 40, Max Mueller Marg New Delhi.

The main activity of the India chapter, the annual Film Festival is on again. It is held every year around International Women’s Day and showcases works by women directors of Asian origin ranging from animation, non-fiction, short/feature fiction, experimental and student films. Subasri Krishnan is the Festival Director for the 2017 edition.

Film list here.