'Velvet Revolution' brings spotlight on women in media



 A 57-minute film that charts out the lives of women journalists from Afghanistan, Syria, India, Cameroon, Bangladesh and the Philippines, and showcases what is at stake for them and how they persist to expose truth despite the odds, was screened here on Friday.

In "Velvet Revolution", six women directors throw the spotlight on the quiet resolve of a clutch of women scribes at a time when attacks on the media are occurring globally.

Whether it is Rafida Bonya Ahmed, the editor of Muktomona, who was injured in a machette attack that killed her husband, Bangladesh blogger Avijit Roy, or Syrian journalist Zaina Erhaim, who is now living in exile in southern Turkey, the long documentary "showcases the courage, determination and talent of some women journalists who are pitted against both state and non-state players that try to curb their press freedom", says Executive Producer and Project Director Nupur Basu.

The film straddles different scenarios -- from writing in exile, to reporting from the frontline as well as grassroots journalism.

Veteran media activist Inday Espina Varona features from the Philippines, the second-most dangerous country for journalists in the past 25 years with 146 killings, as per the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ).

From Afghanistan, one learns about Najiba Ayubi, who runs Killid media for an NGO, continues to report despite regular death threats.

In Cameroon, radio journalist Moussa Marandata reports from the front lines of conflict with Boko Haram, but as the station manager for CRTV Far North she says that she continues to be challenged and belittled by men.

In India, the camera zooms in on the genesis of "Navodayam", a monthly magazine that is run mostly by Dalit women in rural Andhra Pradesh that now has circulation of about 200,000.

It also highlights Malini Subramaniam's persistence to cover human rights violations in Chhattisgarh despite being hounded out of Bastar.

The project also showcases Azerbaijani investigative journalist and radio host Khadija Ismayilova, who courted imprisonment for her role in the Panama Papers investigation.

"We are missing our own story. There is increasing attack on journalists world over. Women are trolled more cruelly on social media and they are also being attacked physically," said Basu.

The International Association of Women in Radio & Television project involved directors Illang Illang Quijano (the Philippines), Deepika Sharma (India), Pochi Tamba Nsoh and Sidonie Pongmoni (Cameroon) and Eva Brownstein (USA/ Bangladesh). - IANS