‘Hotel Mumbai’ dubbed an ‘anthem of resistance’

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A Border Security Forces (BSF) soldier takes photographs of his colleague in front of Taj Mahal hotel, which was one of the targets of the Mumbai 2008 attacks, which killed 166 people, in Mumbai, India, in this November 26, 2017 file photo. (REUTERS)
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(L-R) Anthony Maras, Dev Patel, Tilda Cobham-Hervey, John Collee, Nazanin Boniadi, Anupam Kher, Armie Hammer and Jason Isaacs attend "Hotel Mumbai" Press Conference during 2018 Toronto International Film Festival at TIFF Bell Lightbox on September 8, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (AFP)
Updated 09 September 2018
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‘Hotel Mumbai’ dubbed an ‘anthem of resistance’

  • The film, which also uses television footage of the siege, brought some of them to tears when they watched the finished version for the first time
  • The siege at the Taj Mahal Hotel was one of a coordinated series of attacks across Mumbai in which more than 160 people were killed

TORONTO: “Hotel Mumbai,” about the 2008 attack on a hotel in the Indian city, received a standing ovation at its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival, and the cast and filmmakers said they believe that’s because of the human portrayal not only of the victims but also the perpetrators.`
The film, starring Dev Patel, Armie Hammer and Jason Isaacs, recounts the attack on Mumbai’s luxury Taj Mahal hotel, where dozens of guests and hotel workers were killed during a three-day siege carried out by Pakistan-based Islamist militants.
Most of the film is told from the point of view of those trapped in the hotel, and also from that of the gunmen.
“You had a whole lot of people from different backgrounds, racial, ethnic, from different socioeconomic groups who came together in the face of real adversity to survive,” Australian director Anthony Maras told a news conference on Saturday.
“As Dev (Patel) said yesterday, ‘it’s an anthem of resistance.’“
The cast said the film, which also uses television footage of the siege, brought some of them to tears when they watched the finished version for the first time. Hammer, who plays American hotel guest David, said that the script was “dripping in humanity.”
“You see the toll the attack has on the guests and the staff of the hotel, but you also see it, really for the first time that I can think of, on the actual perpetrators,” Hammer said.
The Hollywood Reporter praised the film’s “nail-biting detail and ... an impressive you-are-there quality,” while The Wrap said it “delivers a show-stopping account.”
The siege at the Taj Mahal Hotel was one of a coordinated series of attacks across Mumbai in which more than 160 people were killed and hundreds wounded.
“Hotel Mumbai” follows a 2013 Bollywood film, “The Attacks of 26/11,” that was told from the point of view of the Mumbai police.


37% of Arab women have experienced violence, UN workshop hears

Updated 31 min 40 sec ago
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37% of Arab women have experienced violence, UN workshop hears

  • A UN workshop in Beirut has been getting to grips with a critical issue for the Arab region
  • Of ESCWA’s 22 member states, countries that are considered to have adequate laws in place include Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Tunisia, Morocco and Lebanon

BEIRUT: Arab women and their protection took center stage at a regional workshop held by the UN in Beirut this week.

Held on Tuesday and Wednesday at the United Nations House in the Lebanese capital, the workshop to support women in the Arab region was organized by the UN’s Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) and the Arab League. 

The aim was to address violence against women and highlight the role of international and regional bodies specializing in women’s issues, as well as their impact on the development of policies, strategies, national laws and standard services to address the issue.

“Violence against women is one of our key pillars, and we chose the topic based on the request from our Arab member states,” said Mehrinaz El-Awady, director at the ESCWA Center for Women. “Most of our work is related to eliminating violence. We do studies and a lot of capacity-building on certain topics.”

The center conducted a number of studies on the topic this year, adding to its seven years of cumulative work on the issue. The studies are complemented by workshops to fill the knowledge gap. 

“There are a lot of initiatives done by national women’s machineries, which are the government offices, departments, commissions or ministries that provide leadership and support to government efforts to achieve greater equality between women and men, but they are not all aligned with international institutions, policy and gender equality in general,” El-Awady said. “There are specific requirements for legislation on violence against women, and we have six Arab countries that have done this legislation, yet we need more alignment on these legislations, to have a broader definition on violence against women.” 

She spoke of the potential in Arab countries to eliminate violence, which the UN wishes to build on. “We’re introducing international instruments on violence against women and key pillars that should be legislation on the topic,” El-Awady said. 

“It should cover prevention, protection, prosecution and rehabilitation, and we’re picking some of the examples of countries that have done legislation, allowing them to present the newly developed laws so other countries that haven’t had a law would be encouraged to follow the same path.”

Of ESCWA’s 22 member states, countries that are considered to have adequate laws in place include Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Tunisia, Morocco and Lebanon. In 2013, Saudi Arabia passed legislation to protect women, children and domestic workers against domestic abuse. It was followed earlier this year by an anti-harassment law. 

Other countries are said to deal with violence against women under the penal code, which ESCWA is advocating against. “When you have violence against women in a penal code, it loses the privacy,” she added. “It’s not violence from an intimate partner.”

According to UN Women, one in three women worldwide have experienced physical or sexual violence at least once, mostly by an intimate partner. In some countries, that figure is as high as 70 per cent. Globally, almost four in every 10 female homicide victims are killed by intimate partners.

Violence against women has risen in the past few years in the region, which, according to the World Bank, has the lowest number of laws protecting women from domestic violence in the world. UN Women estimates 37 per cent of Arab women have experienced violence, with indicators that the percentage might be higher. 

“The region has had a prevalence of violence against women, and it’s one of the things we’re trying to support countries (in),” El-Awady said. 

“We hope Arab member states are more sensitive to the requirement of legislation on violence against women and start the consideration of having a protection order with the legislation to complement it. There’s a momentum and Arab countries are now more alert — it’s a phenomenon that requires attention from them.” 

Women and girls make up 70 per cent of all known human-trafficking victims. Adult women constitute 50 percent of the total number of trafficked people, while two in three child victims of human trafficking are young girls. 

Rapists are often shown leniency or even acquitted in the Arab region if they marry their victims. In Morocco, Article 475 of the penal code, which allowed rapists to avoid prosecution if they marry their victims, was repealed in 2014 following the suicide of a rape victim who was forced to marry her rapist. Today, 700 million women have been married under the age of 18, and 14 percent of Arab girls marry under the age of 18.

“Violence against women has multiple consequences, at the individual level, within the family, community and wider society,” said Manal Benkirane, regional program specialist at UN Women’s Regional Office for Arab States. “It can lead to fatal outcomes and have a significant burden on the economy. Despite the ongoing efforts to eliminate violence against women and girls in the region, its prevalence and social acceptance remain high.”

She stressed the importance of having enabling legislative frameworks to change the social norms and acceptance of violence, and to ensure women’s access to services that meet their needs. “Otherwise, women in the region end up being violated twice, first when they are subjected to assault, and second when they are denied their right to care and support,” she said. “This workshop offers the space for participating countries to share their experiences, achievements but also challenges they faced in addressing violence in the region.”

More than six in every 10 women survivors of violence refrain from asking for support or protection. The remaining ones who speak up turn to family and friends.

Globally, the total direct and indirect costs of violence against women for countries are estimated to be as high as 1 to 2 percent of their gross national product, which amounts to millions of dollars worldwide. 

“Violence against women (has) become a critical issue in the Arab region,” said Shaza Abdellateef, head of women in the women, family and childhood department at the Arab League’s social affairs sector. 

“This is especially pronounced under the recent circumstances that some Arab countries suffer from, with the spread of armed conflicts, refugees and the increase of violence against women, including domestic violence. It is one of the most important issues in the Arab region today.”