Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Don't Pull That Plug

An Oscar-nominated film based on the plight of Hindu widows is to be released in India seven years after it created huge controversy. Director Deepa Mehta, an Indian-born Canadian citizen, was forced by Hindu fundamentalists to stop shooting the movie, Water, in the town of Varanasi.

The third of Deepa Mehta's "Elements" trilogy, the film is set in the holy city of Varanasi in the 1930s and depicts the lives of Hindu widows. Even today many Hindu widows in India lead difficult lives, especially in small towns and rural areas where remarrying is looked down upon.

Often disowned by their families, they are forced to beg and resort to other desperate means to survive. Ms Mehta shot some of the film in Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh with Bollywood actresses Shabana Azmi and Nandita Das but had to stop midway following protests from Hindu fundamentalists.

In 2000 they ransacked the movie set, arguing that the film tarnished the city and denigrated Hindu traditions.

Never mind the fact that Hindu traditions denigrate women. Freedom of religion! Meanwhile, across the way...

Police in southern Pakistan have arrested six men in connection with the kidnap and rape of a 16-year-old girl. The girl's family say the rape was in revenge for her cousin eloping with a female relative of the accused.

The victim's father filed a complaint the same day in Ubaro police station, saying a group of 11 men had kidnapped his daughter, raped her and forced her to walk home naked. Although police initially expressed scepticism over the attack, rape was confirmed in a medical examination carried out on Tuesday, following which the girl left hospital in Sukkur.

On Wednesday, hundreds of political activists and locals blocked the national highway that links Karachi's port to the north of the country for more than two hours in protest at the incident.


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