The Sigma Theta Psi multicultural sorority held a screening of the award-winning documentary “Honor Diaries” at the MultiCultural Center Theatre last night.
The documentary explored the oppression of women’s rights in honor-based societies, following practices such as forced marriages, genital mutilation, honor-related abuse and deprivation of education. The film profiled nine female activists sharing their own personal experiences. Two Muslim Women’s Rights Activists, Raheel Raza and Jasvinder Sanghera, were featured in the film and spoke at the event, encouraging audience members to become involved issues involving abuse in honor-based societies.
Author of the book Their Jihad . . . Not My Jihad! and President of the Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow, Raza said “Honor Diaries” is designed to motivate victims of oppression to speak out about their experiences of abuse.
“This is not just a documentary, it is a call for action,” Raza said. “Our purpose is to expose, educate and empower victims of women oppression.”
According to Raza, giving college students and young adults the opportunity to learn about the oppression of women in honor-based cultures is essential to fighting gender inequality.
“The youth are the next generation,” Raza said. “They are the future and they need to know the problems that they are going to come up against. We love talking to young people because they have so many questions. I hope they learn something new and I hope that the statistics will shock them into an awareness about what is happening around them.”
Sigma Theta Psi president and fourth-year psychology major Brenda Santamaria said she hopes that students in attendance were educated by the event and were reminded that “we as women, as humans, should be caring for everyone equally.”
“I hope that they learned that women around the world face issues that maybe here in the United States aren’t issues,” Santamaria said. “It’s really important to appreciate what we are offered and what other people are not.”
Third-year sociology major Autumn LaTour said after viewing the “Honor Diaries” documentary and hearing Raza and Sanghera speak, she plans to become further involved in the fight for equality for women.
“I think it’s really meaningful to everybody, and not just women, in our society, to become involved in these issues and make sure these issues are talked about and incorporated to promote equality for women,” LaTour said. “I’m planning on becoming an “Honor Diaries” ambassador because most people aren’t aware of these issues.”
According to Raza, educating students about oppression in honor-based societies is the first step toward promoting change to help “eradicate the problem” of abuse and that social progress depends on individual actions.
“Unless you speak out,” Raza said. “There won’t be change.”