SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Xenia von Wedel, Peter Silva, Glenn Rossman, Ava Smith, Elizabeth White

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'Honor Diaries' Addresses Controversy with Muslim Advocacy Groups

Award-winning film features 9 activists fighting for women's rights in Islamic societies; To interview women from the film: contact Maria Sliwa, M. Sliwa Public Relations, +973-272-2861, [email protected]

NEW YORK, April 3, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- A new award-winning documentary, HONOR DIARIES (http://www.honordiaries.com), featuring nine brave activists fighting for gender equality and human rights in Muslim majority societies, has made headlines for exposing some of the most horrific abuses women face including female genital mutilation (FGM), forced marriages and honor violence.

Efforts by detractors to silence the real issues: Over the past week some US-based Muslim advocacy groups, have been trying to prevent Honor Diaries screenings on several campuses through campaigns of intimidation and by preventing student's freedom of speech.  They have also used twitter to harass women from the film and detract from the film's real message.

"Instead of protesting the mass-scale abuse of women, American Muslim groups are protesting the film that brings voice to these issues, and provides a platform for female activists to speak out," said Raheel Raza, one of the featured women in HONOR DIARIES. "The voices of the women in this film should be actively promoted, not stifled," Raza said.

It's completely dangerous and shows their mode of operation: bullying, scapegoating, censoring, avoiding issues" said Zainab Khan, who also features in the film.

These groups have succeeded in postponing a screening at the University of Michigan - Dearborn and Ann Arbor campuses, and the University of Illinois - Chicago. We call on these campuses to immediately reschedule the screenings and allow for an open conversation on campus.

"I am disappointed because what I can see by the reactions is that the people who are condemning the film have not seen it," said Heidi Basch-Harod, a human rights activist and one of the film's producers. "They are self-censoring, even. They aren't giving themselves or others the chance to engage in dialogue and meaningful conversations about issues that are important."

Our response: Nearly 50 campuses have already screened Honor Diaries and we are now proudly launching an international screening tour - which will reach even more campuses, schools and communities. See:http://www.honordiaries.com/host-a-screening/ 

Why we made Honor Diaries: Gender inequality and abuse in Muslim majority societies is one of the world's most under recognized human rights concerns. HONOR DIARIES raises awareness of this issue, which also exists in North America and Europe. The film also calls for action to stop violence against all women, and provides a platform for victims who are unable to freely speak out in many parts of the world.

The film has three executive producers of different faiths: Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Chris Dewey, and Raphael Shore. "The film is both fair and responsible, and the filmmakers took great care to be very sensitive to the Islamic faith," Raza added.   "This is why more than half a million were able to see this film for months without any uproar.  The uproar should come from the abuse that women regularly face."

Our Calls to Action 

The filmmakers are promoting a petition for US lawmakers to end FGM; a text-line to aid the growing number of women and girls at risk of forced marriage and honor violence in the United States; and the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA).  IVAWA legislative sponsor Rep. Jan Schachowsky (D-IL) presented at an HONOR DIARIES press conference in Washington D.C.

We encourage more human rights groups of all faiths to join in this critical effort.

More Facts 

HONOR DIARIES is presented by five organizations: Women's Voices Now, the Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow, Karma Nirvana, the AHA Foundation, and the Clarion Project, with each group advising on the project.  The film has a coalition of over 35 partner organizations including Muslim advocacy groups, human and women's rights groups, and domestic violence centers.  HONOR DIARIES has a multi-faith advisory council comprising of academics, business leaders, and activists.

HONOR DIARIES is told exclusively through the voices of women born in Muslim-majority societies, many themselves victims of violence and subjugation.  The women have often had to cope with intimidation and threats for speaking out.

  • To date over 500,000 people have seen the award-winning documentary on DirecTV's Audience Network.  HONOR DIARIES has been screened publicly in over 100 locations including nearly 50 college campuses.  
  • The film has screened at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, at the UN Committee on the Status of Women in New York, in London's House of Commons, the Los Angeles Museum of Tolerance, and at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.  A Chicago screening was co-hosted by the YWCA and the Anti-Defamation League.
  • The film has been an official selection in over half a dozen film festivals including the prestigious Chicago International Film Festival, and won the Best Documentary award in the interfaith category at the St. Louis International Film Festival.
  • Some Muslim groups have argued that the film should not focus on abuses taking place in Islamic societies, when violence against women is a global problem.  Yet, according to the World Economic Forum, 9 out of 10 countries with the worst women's rights records are Muslim-majority nations.

"While violence against women is indeed a global problem, and that is made quite clear in the film, HONOR DIARIES enables women from within Muslim societies to speak openly about very real problems within our own communities - something which most women are unable to do," said Raza, who is also president of the Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow.

HONOR DIARIES is next screening on DirecTV's Audience Network on Saturday April 5, at 4pm EDT, and is available for download on iTunes. 

To interview women from the film: contact Maria Sliwa, M. Sliwa Public Relations, +973-272-2861, [email protected]

SOURCE Honor Diaries

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