Maria Hinojosa, award-winning PBS and NPR journalist, will join us for the screening of her powerful and award-winning documentary, Child Brides: Stolen Lives, and host the community conversation about the global practice that is estimated to affect more than 100 million girls in the developing world in the next decade.
This program, hosted in conjunction with WGBY, the public television station of western New England, is the final event in Bearing Witness, the Weissman Center’s yearlong lecture series that has explored issues of testimony, advocacy, historical memory, and intervention.
Produced for NOW on PBS, Child Brides: Stolen Lives sheds light on the traditions and ongoing practice of child marriage. The film, funded in part by the Nike Foundation, United Nations Population Fund, and the UN Foundation, focuses on Guatemala, India, and Niger and exposes the sobering cultural realities and global implications of child marriage. The documentary has been awarded the distinguished Edward R. Murrow Award for Best TV Documentary from the Overseas Press Club.
Child Brides: Stolen Lives is especially powerful for the ways in which it confirms the emancipatory nature of education for girls and women. Hinojosa, who reflected on her experiences making the documentary, believes that early marriage is “the biggest untold story affecting girls and women around the world.” Child marriage often halts education, leads to physical and psychological trauma from domestic violence, early sexual activity and pregnancy, and it contributes to the entrenched economic, political, and social oppression of women around the world.
Hinojosa traveled to Guatemala, India, and Niger and during the course of her journey met with community elders, parents, families, young women and girls who had been affected by child marriage. Child Brides features evocative interviews with elders who saw their daughters nearly die from complications of early childbirth as well as with the young girls whose families have no resources to help their daughters now recover from the traumatic physical injuries sustained during pregnancy. Hinojosa chronicles the anguish of mothers for whom there are few choices and options as they raise their children. The opportunity to witness a child marriage ceremony in India, which was combined with a funeral service so that the impoverished community could combine the costs of both events, gave Hinojosa a first-hand glimpse into the ancient traditions that perpetuate early marriage. Hinojosa had the chance to hold a child bride and to meet with the girls, some of whom were only three or four years of age. Those encounters have prompted Hinojosa to confess, “I often feel powerful in my work as a journalist. At that moment, though, I felt powerless in the face of so many emotions.”
Child Brides: Stolen Lives has led to a powerful partnership between NOW and Girls Learn International, a non-profit service learning organization that works to secure universal girls’ education. The organization coordinates partnerships between middle and high school classes in the United States and schools in nations that have high rates of early marriage. College students are able to participate as facilitators through the International College Leadership Division of Girls Learn International.
Child Brides: Stolen Lives marks the first time that child marriage has been documented in a primetime television newsmagazine. The film draws our attention to and illuminates the power of what it means to bear witness as journalists, activists, humanists, and global citizens.
Date: Wednesday, April 16
Time: 7:00 pm
Speaker: Maria Hinojosa
Place: Gamble Auditorium, Art Building, Mount Holyoke College
Admission: Free and open to public