A Woman's Place Home
International Documentary Series
Comprehensive Distribution and Outreach Plan: Experiences with the Pilot Episode
Media Education Demonstration Project
Advisory Board
Educational Guide
Who We Are


Educational Guide

Each episode is accompanied by an educational guide which expands on the issues explored in the film. Below is the the complete text of the guide to accompany Law and Justice.

I. WELCOME TO A WOMAN'S PLACE
A. Who We Are and What We Are About
B. Using the Film and the Guide
C. An Important Request
D. Key Terms Used in the Film

II. UNDERSTANDING THE LAW
A. Law and Custom
B. Towards a New Understanding of Law

III. SOUTH AFRICA
A. Changing Laws, Changing Minds: The Importance of Legal Literacy -- by Tandaswa Ndita
B. Some Important Historical Factors
C. Some Key Dates
D. The Issue of Inheritance

IV. THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
A. Looking Through a Lens: The Myth of an Objective Law -- by Mary Asmus
B. Some Important Historical Factors
C. Some Key Dates
D. Legislating Against Domestic Violence

V. INDIA
A. Legal Strategies for Women's Empowerment: Evolving Feminist Jurisprudence -- by Flavia Agnes
B. Some Important Historical Factors
C. Some Key Dates
D. The Difficulty of Divorce

VI. LAW AS A TOOL FOR SOCIAL CHANGE -- SOME STRATEGIES

VII. USING THE FILM AND ENGAGING THE AUDIENCE
A. Recommended Audiences for A Woman's Place
B. Suggested Activities for the Classroom
C. Discussion Questions for General Audiences

VIII. CUSTOM, RELIGION AND LAW
The Potential Impasse Between Custom, Religion and Law
Some Approaches to Resolving the Dilemma
C. Islam, Custom and the Law: A Case Study

IX. CONDITIONING AND PROVERBS

X. INTERNATIONAL LAWS AND STATISTICS ON THE STATUS OF WOMEN

XI. REFERENCE PUBLICATIONS AND ORGANIZATIONS

XII. CREDITS AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

 

I. WELCOME TO A WOMAN'S PLACE

A. WHO WE ARE AND WHAT WE ARE ABOUT

A Woman's Place is an hour-long documentary about how women in different countries are using the law to transform their lives and change their communities.

In the film we feature three countries -- the South Africa, the United States, and India. They are three of the world's notable democracies -- the USA is the oldest, India is the largest and South Africa is one of the newest. The USA has the oldest and shortest constitution in the world; India has the longest and, some say, one of the most progressive; South Africa has just enacted its first constitution as a democracy. All three countries have mixed societies but very different social and cultural contexts. These factors provide a wide historical and political spectrum through which to explore important issues of social change.

The film was made after extensive research, through a collaborative process. Teams from the three countries worked together to produce a film that would give the audience the benefit of the insider's intimate understanding and the outsider's distanced perspective.

B. USING THE FILM AND THE GUIDE

We wanted to produce a film that could be used in various ways by those who work in education and social advocacy. To this end, both the film and the guide have been designed for maximum flexibility.

While the three segments in the film build on each other to explore the issues of law and social change, they are also self-contained and may be viewed and discussed separately.

Similarly, this guide aims to provide you with a framework and context for using the film. The sections build on each other, but they may also be used separately to target your discussions to individual themes and issues. The table of contents describes each component of the guide. You may use it to identify the sections that suit your individual needs.

For example, if you are particularly interested in the issue of legal literacy, you may screen the South Africa segment on its own. To facilitate a discussion, you may focus on Section III of the guide that addresses South Africa. Alternatively, you may use Section III along with Section IX.A. to introduce the issue of conditioning into your discussion. Section VII also lists additional questions that would enhance this particular discussion.

C. AN IMPORTANT REQUEST

We hope the film inspires the same degree of debate, discussion and engagement in you, the audience, as it did in us, the filmmakers. To us, the process of viewing and responding is an integral part of the film. It is important for us, as we continue in our work, to know how you react to the film. After you have watched A Woman's Place, we ask that you please fill in the questionnaire that accompanies this guide. Please note that you do not need to read this booklet in order to answer the questionnaire.

Without your responses, the film would be incomplete. We look forward to hearing from you!

D. KEY TERMS USED IN THE FILM

Here is a short list of social and legal terms (in alphabetical order) that recur in this guide. The purpose of this list is to clarify what we mean when we use these terms. For definitive meanings, please refer to a dictionary.

ADVOCATE/ACTIVIST
A person who works to raise consciousness, critique the system and guarantee people their rights. A person who represents the interests of dispossessed social groups and mediates with the system on their behalf. Such a person may work from inside or outside of the official legal system.

APARTHEID
Literally "apartness" in Afrikaans, apartheid describes the organization and division of society along racial lines. It refers to a historical period in South African history during which separate laws and rights for White (European) people and Black (African) people institutionalized the subordination and oppression of Black people in all ways.

CIVIL RIGHTS
Those rights guaranteed to citizens of a civil society or democracy.

CODIFICATION/CODIFY
The process of writing down and systematizing customary or religious law in order to include it in the general body of administrative law.

EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT/CLAUSE
A constitutional guarantee of equal rights for men and women in all matters.

FUNDAMENTALIST
A person who believes that religious texts offer fundamental, absolute, sometimes God-given, truths about life and society and that these must be adhered to literally.

LEGAL MINOR
A person who has not reached the age when he/she is legally allowed decision-making powers. Decisions can be taken on his/her behalf by a legally recognized guardian who is of age, and therefore, a legal major. Adult women are sometimes categorized as legal minors and, therefore, do not have the right to manage their own legal and business affairs.

PATRIARCHY
The organization of society on the basis of gender, institutionalizing the inferiority of women to men. In patriarchal societies, men create laws and control women (and other men) according to hierarchy. This control extends to all spheres including economic, legal, political, educational, sexual, and the personal.

PERSONAL LAW
The body of law that pertains to the relationship of person to person, not to the relationship of person to state. Marriage law, adoption law, divorce law, and the inheritance of family property are a few examples.

UNIFORM CIVIL CODE
A constitutional body of law, arrived at by consensus, which applies to people on the basis of their citizenship and not on the basis of other considerations like religion.

II. UNDERSTANDING THE LAW

A. LAW AND CUSTOM

For over a century, advocates and activists have used the law and legal reform as a tool in their struggle to win rights for women. Equality clauses in the constitutions of 174 countries are a testimony to their success. But does the struggle for women's equality end here? Are rights and laws enough to change societies conditioned by centuries of custom and tradition to believe that women are inferior to men? A Woman's Place explores this question by examining how women are using the law to redefine their place in society.

There is a common perception that the relationship between law and custom is one of simple opposition where custom is old and regressive, while law is a modern and progressive instrument of change. This is not necessarily true.

A Woman's Place explores the complex interplay between custom and law to illustrate that changing the law does not, in itself, automatically guarantee social change. Rather, the law has to be used as one part of a comprehensive strategy for social change.

Let us first consider the definitions of law and custom. According to Webster's Dictionary:

LAW is "something laid down or settled; it is all the rules of conduct established and enforced by the authority, legislature or custom of a community, state or group." Law also refers to "the system of courts in which rules are referred to in defending one's rights or securing justice".

CUSTOM is "a social convention carried on by tradition and enforced by social disapproval of any violation. Custom is such usage as by common consent has taken on the force of law".

These definitions show that it is difficult to talk about law without including custom -- just as it is difficult to define custom without referring to law. In fact, the clearest distinction between the two is that law is something formally stated and usually written, while custom is often implied and therefore a conventional, informal set of rules carried on by tradition.

B. TOWARDS A NEW UNDERSTANDING OF LAW

For women to have equal status in society what must change first -- law or custom? In considering this question, women's advocates have re-examined the role of law. Through an understanding of its possibilities, as well as its limitations, they have arrived at a new definition of the law.

LAW is not a straightforward, objective instrument for absolute change. It is a space where the ideas and interests of different social groups struggle for power. These "competing visions of the world" use the law as a way of constructing meaning. Law establishes a scheme of the world and assigns women a place in it. (See Kapur and Crossman, pp 12; 41-42)

According to this new concept, law and custom operate within the social, economic and political context of a society. They reflect the aggregate values and balance of power in a society. This balance shifts continually with the shifts being reflected in the laws and customs of that society. Law can be used as an instrument to emancipate women and redefine their place in society. And, it can as easily be used to reinforce patriarchal ideas.

Can laws change the attitudes of a society? Or should laws change only when social attitudes have undergone a transformation? In fact, law and attitudes influence and change each other. If the beliefs of a particular social group alter, their efforts may lead to a change in law. Once enacted, laws can influence other people's beliefs about what is right or wrong. Ideally, law and attitudes should change at a similar pace. In reality, this ideal is rarely attained.

Laws establish rights and provide a potential framework for social change. But if they only represent an ideal and are not relevant to social realities, they become meaningless. For instance, women may have the right to vote. They may even use this right to cast a vote, but they may vote for the candidate that their husbands tell them to choose.

As the lawyers in A Woman's Place demonstrate, law alone does not guarantee change. Social change is a gradual process. Law is one among many elements that work to create this change. Along with law, women need the education, the economic independence and social freedom to use the law in an empowered way.

III. SOUTH AFRICA
A. CHANGING LAWS, CHANGING MINDS: THE IMPORTANCE OF LEGAL LITERACY -- BY TANDASWA NDITA

The socio-economic and legal setting in which women in South Africa find themselves at present has been shaped by both apartheid policy and the political reforms of recent years. The introduction of the new Constitution of the Republic of South Africa marks a radical break from the past regarding the status of women.

The new constitution gives women equal rights in all matters. It also protects the right to custom. When it comes to the inheritance of deceased estates, this creates conflict. On the one hand, we have custom and codified customary law in the form of the Native Administration Act (1927), which declares that a woman is a perpetual minor and as such cannot handle her own legal affairs. On the other hand we have a constitution that says men and women are equal before the law. These two concepts of women's status obviously contradict one another.

The constitution is applied by presiding officers in courts. Frequently, their attitude has not kept up with the new constitutional principles. Many magistrates still think that women are subservient to their husbands and this attitude spills over into the application of the law.

Similarly, chiefs, who interpret laws to people in customary courts, also perpetuate old ideas about how women should be treated. The community is unaware of its rights, and cultural beliefs make men and women resistant to change.

Women who try to exert their rights may be ostracized by their communities because they are perceived to be revolting against their husbands by trying to be their equals. Some men may beat their wives. When I try to intervene and explain to women that it is their right to be appointed as the administrator of an estate, they bring their husbands along and seem afraid of arguing for their rights.

Socio-economic conditions also affect whether people are able to enforce their rights. The community of Mount Frere, where I work, is very poor and isolated from the infrastructure of the cities and the benefits of urbanization. Approximately 88% of the community is illiterate. Transportation is scarce. Some people are so poor they do not even have bus fare to get to the court. So, access to justice is very difficult and most people are unable to make use of the court.

To make the constitution work, we needed a strategy. We needed to find ways to bring the law to the people and we needed to educate magistrates, chiefs and the community even as we applied the law.

I decided to take the initiative and devise a strategy that would deal with people on a daily basis.

When people come to my court to settle inheritance cases, I don't just arrive at a judgment. I first tell them about the provisions of the constitution. I explain clearly that it is above any other law and it is my duty to ensure that the spirit of the constitution is maintained. The parties to the inquiry have the choice to proceed in terms of custom, if that is what the woman desires. But I make sure that she understands that she has a choice of proceeding in terms of the constitution. In this way people come to know of their rights.

Also, a group of us got together and formed a committee to carry out the strategy of community justice. We decided to visit the various administrative areas constituting the district of Mount Frere, to directly educate the women about their rights and build relationships with chiefs. I attended chief's courts, addressed gatherings, and discussed law with the chiefs.

To my delight, these simple strategies began to yield results in a short time. Not only are women changing, some chiefs too agree with the law and accord women equal rights within a customary framework.

No matter how threatened the men of this community feel by the current changes in their social lives due to the effect of community justice, they realize they cannot stop this awakening of the women in the district. In fact, they have come to accept that they stand to benefit from such changes. For instance, I have, in 1998, dealt with three applications for a family violence interdict on behalf of men!

A good constitution is very important but it may as well not exist if it cannot reach the people for whom it was designed. Ultimately there is a dynamic interaction between people's attitudes and the law. New progressive laws motivate people to change their attitudes, and new attitudes in society motivate the government to pass progressive laws. But, if the minds of people enforcing those laws do not change, then those laws exist in a vacuum. I believe that with time, with education and with recognition of socio-economic rights by the government, it will be possible to achieve real justice for our community.

B. SOME IMPORTANT HISTORICAL FACTORS

To provide a context for the status of women in South Africa today, here are some important historical factors that have shaped modern South African society.

COLONIZATION: Since the Stone Age, Southern Africa made a prosperous home for generations of Black African peoples. In the mid-seventeenth century, the region was colonized by the Dutch and the British. After many bloody clashes between the original inhabitants and the European colonizers, the Union of South Africa was constituted in 1910 establishing White (British and Afrikaaner) rule.

CODIFICATION OF CUSTOM: African customary law is a body of indigenous rules recognized by a particular African community see Koyana, pp.92). Different laws exist in different communities. Colonial rulers selectively codified customary laws to shape the Native Administration Act of 1927.

APARTHEID: The National Party came into power in 1948. It followed a concerted policy of apartheid -- or racial separation -- so that Non-Europeans were separately governed and subordinated at every level to White South Africans. A majority of Africans were restricted to rural reservations, called homelands -- self-governing territories of Black Africans that practiced their own customary law. Traditional leaders, or chiefs, had varying degrees of autonomy here. Residents of the homelands were separate but not equal as they were completely ignored by economic and social development efforts. Africans who were allowed to work in White areas lived in tightly controlled townships on the outskirts of the major cities. Others needed a pass to even visit the city.

REVOLUTION: A long struggle against apartheid, beginning in the late 1950's, saw massive organizing and protest efforts by Black Africans and tremendous brutality from the state. Women were very active in this movement. The imprisoned leader of the African National Congress (ANC), Nelson Mandela, became the focal symbol of this movement all over the world.

DEMOCRACY: In 1994, after years of political struggle, the Republic of South Africa was created as a democracy with a new constitution. The constitution contains an extensive Bill of Rights and outlines a cooperative form of government.

RECONCILIATION: IN 1996, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is established to reveal human rights abuses of the past, to adjudicate amnesty applications from perpetrators of apartheid activities and to make recommendations about reparations for victims.

C. SOME KEY DATES

Following are some key dates for women's rights in South African history.

1920
The Principle of Political Equality for White men and women is passed. However, all women, irrespective of race, remain legal minors under the guardianship of a father or other male. By law, all women and Black Africans also receive lower wages than their White male counterparts.

1927
Under the Native Administration Act, Black African women are categorized as "perpetual legal minors"; meaning that they can not sign legally binding documents, make legal decisions or inherit property.

1936
White women are granted the right to vote.

1994
A new constitution of 200 pages is passed giving women equal rights in all matters. No law can exist in contradiction to the constitution.

1996
The South African government becomes a signatory to the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. A number of government and private agencies are set up to monitor and ensure gender equity in legislation, policies and implementation. The new agencies include an Office on the Status of Women, a Parliamentary Committee on the Policy of Life and Status of Women and a Commission on Gender Equality.

1999
New elections will be held and will be a referendum on how successful the democratic transformation of South Africa has been.

D. THE ISSUE OF INHERITANCE

The issue of inheritance encapsulates the factors influencing women's current status in South Africa. When women are not legally allowed to inherit land, as was the case in South Africa, they are denied equality in principle, as well as in practice, because their access to economic resources is controlled. The new constitution of South Africa attacks the notion -- whether colonial or customary -- of a society where everything, including women, is the property of men. As you can imagine, there is strong opposition to women inheriting because this, in a very concrete way, threatens men's control over resources and over women.

Opposition is particularly strong from some traditional leaders who view the new laws as a threat to their power. It is in their courts where most rural women have their first contact with the law. Since chiefs are an important link to the people and a considerable political force (the institution of chieftainship is protected by the Constitution), it is neither practical nor politically wise to overrule and alienate the chiefs.

A faction of traditional leaders, supported by some political parties, favors a decentralized political and legal system, which would allow them greater autonomy. Should this become a reality, it would have negative repercussions on women's rights.

In this context, the work of people like Ndita is vital. They can use the time until the next election to build awareness of, and support for, the new constitution. This will ensure that, no matter what the result, the issue of women's democratic rights will always be on the agenda.

V. THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
A. LOOKING THROUGH A LENS: THE MYTH OF AN OBJECTIVE LAW -- BY MARY ASMUS

I came to Duluth to work as a prosecutor when our community's legal system was just beginning to acknowledge domestic violence as a crime. The prospect of working with domestic abuse victims sounded quite interesting; I also wanted a job. Quickly, however, I learned to blame victims for their problems. Wanting to "help" them, I soon became frustrated that battered women seemingly couldn't -- or wouldn't - help themselves. I didn't see the bigger picture.

It took longer than I care to admit for me to see that the real problem was the system, not battered women. Prosecuting domestic abuse cases in our system was (and still is) like trying to put a square peg in a round hole -- they just don't fit. Something needed to change. Since the reality of battered women's experience has never changed over the years I've worked with victims, I decided that the system needed to change to fit reality. I also realized that I needed to change my own attitudes before I could learn to do my work differently and make meaningful changes in the system itself.

Justice may be an objective goal, but it is viewed and considered subjectively through the filtering lenses of race, class, and gender. Differing perspectives enter and affect the legal system at all stages of the drafting, enacting, interpreting, and implementing of laws. Political considerations and realities greatly affect the specific wording of statutes and whether they are enacted at all. Personal attitudes also affect how those laws are interpreted. Judges differ in how they interpret laws, depending not only on their understanding of the law, but also on their varied values, attitudes, and personal experiences. Similarly, lawyers and police officers interpret statutes as they determine how to implement them.

Through working closely with our community's battered women's advocates I have seen that social justice is not guaranteed by simply making changes in laws. Because domestic violence is embedded in our history and culture, much more is needed. Minnesota's law permitting warrantless arrest in domestic violence cases was needed to give police officers the ability to arrest perpetrators, even though officers may not have actually witnessed the crime. However, once the law was enacted police officers did not immediately begin to use it. It was necessary to adopt department policies and to train officers. Only then did the law result in greater protection for battered women.

Duluth's coordinated community response to domestic violence is now known throughout the United States and much of the world as a leading example of successful reform efforts in domestic violence intervention. It has evolved through the leadership of the Domestic Abuse Intervention Project, a community-based legal advocacy group. As a result of this approach, each criminal justice agency adopted both general policies and specific procedures for handling domestic abuse cases. Broad, macro-level policies were complemented by micro-level changes in procedures that established uniform, consistent ways to guide practitioners in the everyday details of their jobs. Examples of specific procedures include checklists that guide police officers in writing reports that reflect the history, nature, and effects of violence used by perpetrators and formats that assist emergency operators in obtaining information about the danger facing victims who call for help.

These policies and procedures are not based on the opinions of individuals. They are based on a common philosophical framework that prioritizes victim safety, offender accountability, and changing the community climate -- those cultural attitudes that have condoned domestic abuse.

Using this framework, I have learned that as a prosecutor I can play a central role in these reform efforts. One strategy I have used is to re-interpret laws, case decisions, and rules in ways that provide greater safety for battered women. These interpretations apply not only to how I prove cases in court, but also to how police officers, probation officers, and advocates do their work.

As a prosecutor I have a central position within the criminal justice system, interacting daily with others throughout the system. I use these close contacts with other practitioners to build networks of knowledge and expertise. I seek to coordinate my efforts with police officers, probation officers, and battered women's advocates to ensure that the legal systems policies and procedures account for the safety needs of battered women. I have realized that as a prosecutor I can be the voice of the community saying that domestic violence is wrong.

B. SOME IMPORTANT HISTORICAL FACTORS

Here are some important historical factors that have shaped modern American society.

COLONIZATION: Soon after Europeans arrived in North America, it became a British colony with laws based on British jurisprudence.

IMMIGRATION: There have been innumerable waves of immigrants from different parts of the world to America. Until more recently, these were all European. Each of these immigrant groups brought their respective cultural and religious practices with them. To some degree, the cultures and practices melded to produce new ones. At the same time, the different immigrant groups retained their identities to produce distinct regional enclaves in different parts of the territory.

DEMOCRACY: Resentment of British economic control over this prosperous colony culminated in the American Revolution of 1776. A constitution, the world's first, was written in 1787. A basic bill of rights 10 pages long, it enshrines the values of liberty, equality and the pursuit of happiness. It also strives to define a state that is responsible for individual welfare but does not have inordinate control over the freedom of individuals. Originally, these rights were meant to safeguard only propertied males. Since women and slaves (people of African descent) could not own property, they, along with poor White men, were effectively denied equal rights. Successive constitutional amendments have corrected this inequality.

FEDERALISM: As a democratic federation, the states that make up the United States reserve the right to enact their own laws as long as they do not violate constitutional guarantees.

RELIGION AND STATE: Religious persecution at home motivated many early settlers to go to America. This historical legacy is manifested as a constitutional guarantee of complete separation between religion and the civil laws of the state.

PRIVATE ENTERPRISE/CAPITALISM: The idea of a land where all could have the opportunity to rise, to make a new start, away from the stratification of their original societies informed the individualistic, entrepreneurial ethos of this society.

REFORM AND CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENTS: Despite the constitutional commitment to equality, all parts of society did not have equal rights. From time to time there have been important reform movements and advocacy efforts against slavery, for civil rights, suffrage and women's economic and personal rights. Some of these have resulted in constitutional amendments.

C. SOME KEY DATES

1824
The Supreme Court of Mississippi acknowledges a husband's right to physically chastise his wife. Other states support this ruling.

1919
The 19th Amendment of the American Constitution gives women the right to vote.

1920
By this date, all states have outlawed wife beating.

1923
The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) is first introduced in congress but fails. It is introduced in Congress every year through the July, 1982 deadline for passage.

1972
The ERA passes through Congress but fails ratification by 3 of the 38 states necessary to pass a constitutional amendment.

1979
The Domestic Abuse Act of the State of Minnesota is passed. It is the first statute of its kind in the United States and provides for immediate court intervention, orders of protection, and other measures to address victims' needs.

1982
The ERA is dead when the July, 1982 deadline for passage arrives.

1996
The Violence Against Women Act is passed to increase national efforts to end domestic violence and sexual assault through law enforcement, prosecution, prevention programs, and building public awareness about this national problem.

D. LEGISLATING AGAINST DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

Today, domestic Violence still accounts for more than 4 million deaths and injuries to women in the USA every year. As an important national issue, domestic violence focuses acutely on public beliefs about men's and women's roles in American society. It also demonstrates how these attitudes pervade the legal and social service system to make laws ineffective at combating domestic violence.

According to some legal analysts, these attitudes are embedded in the legal system of the United States. Historically, men were responsible for their dependents, including women, children and slaves. The law was designed to legislate transactions among men and was written with this context in mind. As a result, concerns like domestic abuse have not been addressed by legislation until recently when women's advocates focused attention on them.

Given the prevalence of patriarchal attitudes, the strong belief in personal freedom has sometimes been interpreted to mean "a man's home is his castle". This belief extended to the enforcement system and the courts. Domestic violence was looked upon as a private matter and, in effect if not in law, condoned.

This attitude towards women still exists. For example, there is a growing conservative religious movement in the United States that believes in a woman's subjugated place in scripture and tradition. In 1998, the Southern Baptist Convention amended its statement of beliefs to include a declaration that a woman should "submit herself graciously" to her husband.

To tackle the complex legal and social factors that enable domestic violence to continue, there is need for legal reform but also for structural change of the legal system, provisions for advocacy, responsive policies, and the transformation of people's attitudes. The work of people like Mary Asmus lies in this difficult, day to day effort.

V. INDIA
A. LEGAL STRATEGIES FOR WOMEN'S EMPOWERMENT: EVOLVING FEMINIST JURISPRUDENCE -- BY FLAVIA AGNES

There is a general presumption within the legal community that the "be all and end all" of family dispute is divorce. In a situation where no clear statutory right of division of property upon divorce or a right to reside in the matrimonial house is marked out, a divorce petition, more often than not, will only serve to aid the process of disempowerment. I decided that one of the major tasks I would have to undertake in the course of litigation would be to question this premise and explore avenues for the empowerment of women that may or may not end in a divorce.

When a women has been weakened by the loss of crucial economic and other related rights, the challenge before the lawyer ought to be to restore these rights rather than mindlessly file a petition for divorce. This has been the framework within which I have approached the arena of litigation.

After zeroing in on economic rights, the next realization I had was that these rights can be protected only through carefully worked out strategies. Usually men can avail themselves of better legal services. So, they have been able to access legal advice to chalk out strategies that result in the drastic loss of economic rights for women. On the other hand, women, who are socialized into an ideology of selfless love and sacrifice within the domestic sphere, are not trained to approach matrimonial litigation with the skills of a chess player. They approach courts with the naive hope that justice will automatically be done to them, that their sincerity itself is sufficient proof that they deserve justice. This misplaced faith eventually leads to women's disillusionment with the legal machinery.

If there is one lesson I have learned well it is this: Law is not justice; Law is strategy. Confronted day in and day out with the tears of despair from women who had lost their crucial rights and life savings, the custody of their children and the roof over their heads, I learned this lesson painfully. The courts are a ground for expressing skill and legal acumen rather than a forum to attain justice. Battles can be won only through carefully worked out legal strategies. This was a game of chess and the party who can skillfully checkmate the other will be the winner.

This realization was the starting point of Majlis, our legal center. The center evolved primarily to help women have meaningful access to the legal machinery. The aim was to renegotiate the spaces within the justice delivery system -- on women's terms. We termed this task "evolving feminist jurisprudence".

The litigation forum had to be used not only to gain crucial rights. The process of strategizing itself would be a process of empowerment for women who had been confined within domestic spaces and who had no idea about formal court structures. The idea was to make women active participants in their legal cases, not mute recipients of legal judgments. After all these years, the best moments are still those when a woman realizes that a carefully worked out strategy actually wins her the upper hand in court; that her husband is not as omnipotent as she believed.

Apart from the financial settlements and restoration of rights, the greatest success of our legal strategies has been in transforming women who are on the verge of nervous breakdowns into confident and pragmatic beings who can independently cope with all the complexities of their cases and make informed choices about their futures. This transformation of personality has been the greatest reward.

I am aware that while fighting for women's rights we are constantly negotiating within constrained spaces. Our approach has been not to lament the absence of rights, but to innovatively use the existing machinery and push the boundaries of women's rights beyond their existing parameters. Through the process of litigation we have been able to create positive legal precedents which have had multiplier effects.

While campaigns for legal reform are important aids for focusing upon injustice and discrimination against women, the reforms themselves will not bring social justice. Most often reforms fail to yield positive results because they are not contextualized within the reality of existing court structures and litigation mechanisms. Even the best of reforms have to be effected through skillful court craft. Creating a sound base of feminist jurisprudence within the litigation fora is a primary task in the arena of women's rights and it is towards this end that our legal center has been striving.

B. SOME IMPORTANT HISTORICAL FACTORS

Here are some important historical factors that have shaped modern Indian society:

REGIONAL DIVERSITY: Since 4000 BC, the Indian Subcontinent has been home to various civilizations -- nomadic tribes, Hindu dynasties, Buddhist kings and Mughal emperors. Successive dynasties brought their own cultures but interfered little with local custom. As a result, a complex regional culture developed, with each province maintaining a distinct identity and customs, not unlike Europe. Today, the complexity remains, with a modern Indian society composed of numerous religious and ethnic groups.

COLONIZATION: India was united as a British colony from 1757 to 1947. In order to administer such a large and diverse country, the British enforced one comprehensive administrative and legal system. They began the codification of religious/customary law. They also established an educational system that would create an Anglicized Indian elite to assist them in the task of administering such a huge country.

REFORM MOVEMENTS: In the nineteenth century, there were a number of social reform movements which addressed the unequal treatment of women and lower castes among Hindus. They resulted in legislation that outlawed sati (the "suicide" of a woman whose husband has died)(1829) and allowed widow remarriage (1856).

FREEDOM MOVEMENTS: Organized movements for independence from the British began in 1857. They existed in various manifestations and under diverse leadership around the country. Arguably, the most influential was the non-violent, civil disobedience movement led by Mahatma Gandhi which also pursued reform for lower castes, rural poor and women.

DEMOCRACY: In 1947, India became an independent democracy with 21 states, 9 Union Territories and 15 official languages. A 500-page constitution enacted in 1950 attempted to address the aims of universal equality and unity in diversity. It combined British colonial law, customary law and modern reform law. It also sanctioned specific personal law for different communities (for example, The Hindu Marriage Act, The Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, etc.). Other matters were governed by civil law. The administrative and judicial systems created by the British were retained.

PARTITION AND ETHNIC STRIFE: In 1947, at the time of independence from the British, the partition of the sub-continent into India and Pakistan took place amid bloody and brutal ethnic strife that left a lasting public scar. Subsequently, riots between Hindus and Muslims have erupted from time to time.

C. SOME KEY DATES

1869
The Indian Divorce Act gave the right of divorce to Christian women. It is based on 19th century English matrimonial law.

1939
The Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act is passed giving Muslim women the right to divorce.

1950
A new Constitution is enacted. Significant features include adult franchise, equality and non-discrimination between the sexes, and affirmative action in favor of women and children.

1955
The Hindu Marriage Act is passed allowing both men and women to sue for divorce.

1956
The Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act states that the father is the natural guardian of the child, echoing Islamic law and The 1890 Guardian and Wards Act.

1971
The Committee on the Status of Women is constituted. In 1974, it publishes "Towards Equality," an historic report that states that independence and progress has bypassed women.

1976
The Hindu Marriage Act is amended to include divorce by mutual consent.

D. THE DIFFICULTY OF DIVORCE

Divorce may seem like a simple and personal right. But, for Indian women, divorce brings up important issues of economic rights, social and personal freedom, legal contradictions and political controversy. It also shows how the gap between written guarantees and women's true emancipation is filled by many factors that are intrinsic to society and the system.

First, people do not readily use laws for many reasons, including illiteracy, ignorance, patriarchal traditions, and the influence of conservative religious and political forces. When it comes to divorce, most people revert to traditional notions of a woman's place being in her husband's home. If a woman does decide to challenge tradition by suing for divorce, she must face a system that still observes the intimidating procedures of British colonial courts. The complicated, unwieldy paperwork and slow pace are discouraging for most people, and especially for those with limited education or resources, which is true of most women.

Second, one law is often not balanced by other, related laws. A progressive law is often undermined by another law that reflects patriarchal attitudes. For example, women have the right to divorce. But corresponding rights to alimony, maintenance, and matrimonial property are not clearly drawn. A woman is not entitled to maintenance if she works, or is not "chaste." By law, the father is the natural guardian of the child -- even if the mother has custody. The law itself, as much as social disapproval, makes divorce a difficult option for women.

Some political factions feel that a Uniform Civil Code will resolve these inconsistencies. Others argue that, beyond reforms in personal law and the legal system, more economic rights for women and education are the real need. The work of advocates like Flavia Agnes focus on these complex areas.

VI. THE LAW AS A TOOL FOR SOCIAL CHANGE -- SOME STRATEGIES
Like the women featured in A Woman's Place, those who propose to use the law for social transformation may choose from a variety of approaches.

First, they need to determine in which part of the legal system the problem lies. Does a law exist? Is it the appropriate law for the problem? Does it address the real needs of women (as opposed to their perceived needs)? Does it take women's context into account?

Once the law is in place, other issues arise. Do people know about the law? Are people willing to accept it and act according to it? Is the law being effectively implemented?

To address these questions, some advocates might choose to focus on the substance (or content) of the law. Others might concentrate on its structure (the courts, administrative and enforcement agencies, legal aid centers). Still others might focus on cultural aspect like societal attitudes and behaviors towards the law (See Friedman, pp. 29-44).

Depending on the part of the legal system that they target, advocates might choose a particular type of strategy. Those dealing with the content of the law might work on legal reform, while those dealing with the structure of the legal system might devise strategies for litigation. Those dealing with the cultural aspects might engage in legal literacy (See Kapur and Crossman, pp. 294-336).

Table 2:

CONTENT (COLUMN 1)
Legal reform. This requires lobbying to change laws and includes:
1. Amending law books to:
a. Eliminate discriminatory laws, policies and language
b. Add new laws that address women's real needs and issues
2. Developing policies based on laws, in consultation with community groups

STRUCTURE (Column 2)
Litigation. This involves activities like:
1. Finding loopholes in the law
2. Reinterpreting the law to suit a woman's context
3. Fighting cases in order to build case law
4. Providing legal services and counseling for women

CULTURE (Column 3)
Legal literacy. Influencing peoples attitudes and raising awareness of the law through:
1. Legal seminars and workshops
2. Media campaigns -- advertisements, films, talk shows, songs, comics.
3. Raising issues in the press through letters to the editor, articles, opinion pieces, etc.

Although a given strategy may target a particular aspect of the legal system, it also impacts others. The strategies employed are also inter-dependent for lasting social change to happen.

Each of the three lawyers in A Woman's Place needs laws to be able to implement their innovative strategies. These laws exist because women's advocates, governments or legal experts had used the strategy of legal reform to alter the content of the law.

In India, we see how Flavia Agnes uses the strategy of litigation for particular cases. Litigation builds case law, which may eventually lead to legal reform. In the film, the process of litigation also works as legal literacy because it makes women aware of their rights and empowers them.

In the USA, Mary Asmus targets the structure of the law and employs a strategy of litigation to look for loopholes and reinterpret laws to suit the context of domestic violence victims. This process also functions as legal literacy because it educates clients, jurors and legal functionaries about the need for changed attitudes and new laws.

In South Africa, Tandaswa Ndita's strategy aims for legal literacy -- making people aware of the new laws and influencing the culture to include these laws. But in trying to achieve these aims, she also ends up targeting the structure of the law - - altering the way in which court cases are held to make the courts more approachable for women.

VII. USING THE FILM AND ENGAGING THE AUDIENCE
RECOMMENDED AUDIENCES FOR A WOMAN'S PLACE

Screen the film in your organization. Does your group confront similar issues in different ways? Can the same strategies be applied to the situations in your community? Present your findings to your organization.

Screen the film in counseling group sessions. If your organization provides counseling services for women, screen the film in a group session. You will find it leads easily into a discussion about women's individual experiences. Encourage your members to see how women in other parts of the world echo their experiences.

Screen the film for local agencies like the police department, a legal association, a local government office, or other relevant policy departments. Use it as a launching pad for discussions about being sensitive to women's needs and context while enforcing the law. Raise questions about how traditional attitudes and prejudices weave their way into the legal system. Begin a dialogue about possible strategies for more community involvement in the legal system.

Contact local colleges/universities and ask them to screen the film for departments such as anthropology, geography, history, law, political science, social work, sociology, and women's studies. If the film relates directly to your work, ask to be present at screenings and speak to students about how they can volunteer and get more involved in advocating for women's rights.

Screen the film with students aged 13-18. Use it as a means of raising awareness about international issues. Ask students to examine their own cultures and draw parallels between their society and others. Have the students participate in a mock parliament or court case having students rotate roles as advocates/activists, complainants, defendants, judges, police officers, family members, etc.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITIES FOR THE CLASSROOM

If you are leading a classroom discussion, you can choose to carry it out over a day, a week, or longer. Here are some suggested methods to produce active debate:

Approach One

1. Choose an area of everyday life that is governed by well known laws, for instance, traffic rules, playing music in public or using public transportation.

2. Ask the class to prepare a list of rules and laws related to this area. Read some of the actual laws out in class.

3. Ask the class to identify the local customs, traditions, and practices that are affected by the law.

4. Do people obey the law totally or in part? Do they totally disregard it? Perhaps students could collect statistics or do random interviews to substantiate their opinions.

5. Analyze the results.

Approach Two

1. Pick an area of women's lives about which laws exist.

2. Follow the steps outlined in Approach One.

Approach Three

1. Choose one law and one custom from each segment of the film.

2. Follow the steps outlined in Approach One.

3. Discuss the implications. Who benefits from the law or custom? Who suffers and how?

4. Discuss the general ideas about gender and class that underlie these laws and customs. Encourage your students to discuss how these ideas are actually transmitted through laws and customs.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS FOR GENERAL AUDIENCES

Here are some questions for discussion by general audiences. They are grouped around a common set of issues. The ideas addressed in each group are inter-related and overlap with those in other groups. So, you can either discuss them following the steps outlined in Approach One or lead free-form discussions.

Law as Part of a Strategy for Social Change

1. "Changing the laws of a society is one aspect. But the most important thing is changing the way society looks upon those laws." What does Ndita's statement mean with respect to South Africa?

2. "The law is ancient. But it is not static. It changes with the times. It is up to us to make interventions in favor of women." Discuss Flavia's statement in light of the Indian segment.

3. "I'm trying to make sure that the principles our society was based on apply to everybody." How does Mary's statement relate to her work in the United States?

4. How are the strategies of Ndita, Mary and Flavia different? How are they similar?

5. Choose a law relating to women in your country. Is it helping improve women's lives? Can you apply any of the strategies illustrated in A Woman's Place to your country's situation? How would the strategy need to be adapted to suit your local context?

6. Think of three countries from different regions of the world where the tension between law and custom in relation to women's rights exists. How are these tensions similar to those explored in A Woman's Place? How are they different?

Conditioning and Gender Roles

1. View the animation opening of A Woman's Place. What comment does it make about the conditioning of women through time and across cultures?

2. "One is not born a woman. One becomes one." (Simone de Beauvoir) What did this author mean when she wrote this in her famous book, "The Second Sex"?

3. Can you list some of the proverbs that appear as title cards in the film? How are these proverbs relevant to the content of the film?

4. Can you think of some common proverbs and saying related to women in your culture?

5. In what other ways, besides proverbs, are ideas about gender roles popularized?

Customs Reflected in Laws

1. Can you think of or find out about some laws that reflect common sayings?

2. Can you think of or find out about some laws that contradict or address some common proverbs?

3. "Customs are the laws of yesterday. Laws are the customs of today." Discuss.

4. Can you think of examples in your own society where religious beliefs or customs and law came into conflict? Can you think of examples that impacted women in particular? How were such issues resolved?

5. After seeing the film, and discussing the previous question, what do you think must change first in order for women to achieve equality - law or custom?

What Does Success Mean for Women and Men

1. How would you define women's empowerment?

2. What are some indicators that can be used to measure women's empowerment in a particular society? (Refer to Section IX B).

3. What are some of the events or happening in your family, your country and the world that indicate that women are achieving successes or failures?

4. Does empowering women mean disempowering men?

5. Discuss the difference between power and empowerment?

VIII. CUSTOM, RELIGION AND LAW

THE POTENTIAL IMPASSE BETWEEN CUSTOM, RELIGION AND LAW

Constitutional law is usually the supreme law in most countries. But, it is not the only set of rules people live by. As we see in A Woman's Place, custom and religion also determine how people lead their lives and interact with each other. While the same religion can exist in many countries, custom is tied to local traditions. Tradition affects the local interpretation of religion just as it does the local application of laws.

It is true that many religions and customs sanction the inequitable treatment of women. The use of law to redress this injustice raises many issues such as cultural sensitivity, the imposing of the popular majority viewpoint on the minority community and the misuse of religious faith for political ends. In the ensuing controversies, women's issues are often simplified, sensationalized and, eventually, ignored.

Often, an impasse between custom, religion and law arises when women's problems are attributed to a single cause, (religion or a custom), which can be "fixed" through a single act (law). In fact, real solutions can be found only when women's issues are viewed, not in isolation, but with more complexity, as part of an entire socio-economic system.

SOME APPROACHES TO RESOLVING THE DILEMMA

Is it possible to resolve the contradictions between religious dictates, customary practice and secular law? Is it possible to maintain and respect the traditions and religious identity of people, and ensure respect for the rights of women?

A Woman's Place explores two ways that countries resolve this dilemma:

1. Complete separation of religion and state.
In all matters, people are governed by civil law. People have the right to freedom of religion but religious rights are subordinate when they come in conflict with the basic rights outlined in the constitution. The USA and South Africa adhere to this separation.

Consequences of this Approach for Women: Depending on prevailing social attitudes, some areas of women's lives may go unlegislated altogether. Social customs operate in a tacit way, unlike religious law, which may be directly stated. The idea of a supposedly "impartial" or "neutral" civil law often hides the attitudes that underlie it.

2. Incorporating religious and customary law into the constitution.
The state allows customary and religious law to govern some relations, particularly within the family, in matters relating to inheritance, marriage, divorce, and child custody. On other matters, state law governs. For example, the Indian Constitution permits different acts to govern the personal laws of different religions.

Consequences of this Approach for Women: The nature of customary law is spontaneous and flexible. It is continually modified by customary practice, which is fluid and changes over time. Codification freezes custom, removes it from its context and often does so selectively (See Koyana, pp. 157-158). The resulting law depends a lot on who decides what is custom and what is not. For example, women may be subject to control in custom, but custom may also grant them certain rights or safeguards. Male interests frequently reject customs favorable to women. As a result, codification ends up incorporating the controls and leaving out the rights afforded to women through custom. Similarly, with religious law, women are not commonly permitted to interpret scripture, tradition or dogma. In some localities, fundamentalist interpretations, in the name of preserving cultural rights, have reinforced the subordination of women and led to oppressive practices. (See Schuler, pp. 420-421)

ISLAM, CUSTOM AND THE LAW: A CASE STUDY

Let us examine these issues through another example: the rights of women under Islam.

Outsiders often attribute the problems of gender in Muslim countries solely to Islam. Such an analysis is not only simplistic, but, in the end, serves little purpose in changing women's lives. Women in Muslim countries have been passionately engaged in promoting social change through a debate on whether or not to incorporate Shari'a (Muslim religious law) into civil law.

Some Muslim countries, like Turkey, have opted for a completely secular civil law. Some, like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Afghanistan, base their legal systems completely on religious law. Others, like Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia, employ a mixture of civil and religious law.

A Note on Islamic Law

Islamic law is based on three main sources. (See Khalidi and Tucker, pp. 3-6)

1. The Qur'an: The holy book of Islam is believed by Muslims to have been revealed by God to His Prophet Muhammad. There are a number of verses that comment on women's and men's position in society and their relationships to each other. As in most religious books, the verses are open to minor interpretation and can be used to support arguments for equality for women as well as to restrict women's rights.

2. The Hadith: This is a collection of the words and deeds of the Prophet Mohammed that were orally transmitted through the early Islamic community and formally recorded in writing by male scholars nearly 200 years after the Prophet's death. There are thousands of Hadiths, and many of them comment on the social place of men and women. Today, there remains active debate among Islamic scholars and religious leaders as to the appropriate interpretation of the Hadiths for modern life.

3. The Shari'a: The Shari'a is law in its divine manifestation -- in other words, the body of law as contained in God's revelation. Muslim jurists discover the intent of this law, formulating and organizing it as fiqh -- or the applied law.

While the Qur'an is regarded as divine revelation by Muslims, the Hadith and Shari'a, rendered as fiqh, are "manmade," historical documents subject to the variations of time and history and, therefore, open to interpretation. Indeed, Islamic law varies from country to country and is greatly influenced by local customs and traditions.

Two Points of View

In the debate on whether to include Shari'a in constitutional law, participants lean towards two broad viewpoints or positions. These positions are described below.

1. A progressive reinterpretation of law

Egyptian feminists first raised this issue at the turn of the century. Proponents believe that it is futile to try to reinvent society through law while ignoring religion. Religion is an important reality in people's lives and shapes their values. So, it can be a powerful tool for reform. For example, scripture can be interpreted progressively while preserving its important place in the culture. This ensures that, like civil law, religious law is no longer the preserve of men.

2. Complete separation between religion and law

International human rights standards and social reform should form the basis of civil law. The entangled nature of regional customs and religious belief or law results in political misuse and confusion. Interpretation of scripture is prone to ambiguity. It is better to give women unequivocal rights and then ensure these rights through policy and advocacy. Without it, women do not have enough power in society for their interpretation to count against that of religious leaders.

These opposing viewpoints are illustrated in excerpts from our conversations with two of the lawyers that we interviewed during the research for A Woman's s Place.

Hina Jilani, Lawyer, Pakistan
"I personally feel that religion should have nothing to do with rights, and it should not be a basis for the formulation of rights. I believe in the secular nature of laws. I believe in the secular basis of rights, which should seek their mandate from internationally accepted norms of human rights, and not necessarily a particular religion."

Mona Zulficar, Lawyer, Egypt
"Under Shari'a, you have different interpretations and it depends on which interpretations you use. You can choose the more progressive, or you can choose the more conservative. It's a question of what you think is more suitable or appropriate for the progress and development in your society. These are all manmade rules based on interpretations and ideas so there's a lot of freedom and flexibility. It's not really a question of whether you base your family law in religion or on civil courts. It is a question of what your society thinks family relations should look like."

Hina Jilani
"For 1400 years these laws have been interpreted in a certain way. What validity do women have in saying that their interpretation is better than the interpretation of religious scholars and priests?"

Mona Zulficar
"You have to plan your development within the facts of life. If the women's movement, now in Egypt, suddenly demands a secular civil law like Turkey, we'll get nowhere. The main target is to achieve progress, and not to win theoretical arguments."

IX. APPENDICES

A. CONDITIONING AND PROVERBS

Society uses many different means to propagate beliefs. The traditional way is through proverbs, rules, songs, sayings and rituals. As modern media have proliferated, literature, television, magazine articles, advertisements, and films have joined the vehicles that carry these ideas forward.

Surrounded by such messages we grow up well versed in these beliefs and the expectations that society has of us in terms of our attitudes and behavior. In time, they take on the form of self-evident truths or proven wisdom. This is the process of conditioning.

Here are some of the ways in which proverbs, rules and sayings condition ideas about women's place in society.

By stating that women are inferior

"The male is by nature superior, and the female inferior. One rules and the other is ruled."
-Aristotle, 4th century BC

"To be a woman means to submit."
-Early Han Dynasty (China)

By "proving" women's inferiority and unworthiness to justify controlling them

"To bear a girl is to bear a problem."
-Ethiopian proverb

"Woman has the form of an angel, the heart of a serpent and the mind of an ass."
-German proverb

"A woman, a dog, a hickory tree -- the more you beat them the better they be."
- European proverb

By using these notions of inferiority to define a woman's place

"A woman's place is at her husband's feet."
-Indian proverb

"A woman's place is in the home."
-English proverb

"Women, even though they are of full age should be under guardianship as being scatterbrained."
-Ancient Roman Law, 450 BC

"A woman belongs to her father when she is born, to her husband when she is married and to her son after she is widowed."
-The Laws of Manu, 300 A.D. (India)

By defining the ideal behavior of the ideal woman (and of men to women) to keep her in her place

"Virtuous is the girl who suffers and dies without a sound."
-Indian proverb

"Only a shameful wife takes her husband to court."
-Ugandan proverb

"The man who is not master of his wife is not worthy of being born."
-18th century French saying

"Women should remain at home, sit still, keep house and bear and bring up children."
-Martin Luther, 1524

These societal beliefs are sometimes reflected in laws, illustrating the strong link between belief, custom and law:

"A woman married under custom shall be deemed a minor...and her husband, her guardian."
-Black Administration Act, 1927 (South Africa)

"It is forbidden to beat your wife after 10:00 PM."
-Early American Noise Ordinance (USA)

"The father is the natural guardian of the child."
-Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956 (India)

B. INTERNATIONAL LAWS AND STATISTICS ON THE STATUS OF WOMEN
In 1948, Article 7 of the International Declaration of Human Rights stated: "All are equal before the law and entitled without any discrimination to the equal protection of the law..."

Since 1975, the 4 World Conferences on Women sponsored by the United Nations have focused international attention on women's issues. A total of 185 national delegations and 7,000 government delegates attended the most recent conference in Beijing in 1995.

In 1979, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. By 1981, it entered into force as an international treaty after the 20th country ratified it; today, 174 countries have ratified the treaty. As signatories, these nations are legally bound to enact legislation, policies and programs to ensure equality for women in economic opportunity, social freedom and physical welfare.

How have these international laws affected the status of women around the world? Here are some current laws and statistics suggesting that there has been progress, but that there remains significant room for improvement.

Since the 1995 Beijing Conference, 58 countries have adopted national legislation or policies to address women's rights.
BUT
The United States is among those countries that do not constitutionally guarantee equal rights for women.

Since 1995, 26 countries have passed laws to curb domestic violence.
BUT
Domestic violence is the leading cause of death for women ages 14-44 around the world.

Women's economic activity has increased worldwide, with their labor force participation rate increasing from 35.6% in 1970 to 39.5% in 1990.
BUT
Today, women's earnings equal only 75% of men's earnings for equal work. More than 70% of the 1.3 billion people in the world that live in poverty are women.

Global rates for female literacy have increased by more than two thirds in the past two decades. In developing countries, the gaps between women and men in adult literacy and school enrollment were halved between 1970 and 1990.
BUT
More than two-thirds of the world's 960 million illiterate adults are women. Nearly 40% of the female population in developing countries is still illiterate. While 96% of boys receive at least some level of primary schooling, only 76% of girls do.

Only 9 out of 173 parliaments worldwide do not have women members.
BUT
The percentage of women in parliament around the globe has declined from almost 15% in 1988 to less than 12% in 1997.

There has been a sharp reduction in global fertility rates over the past two decades.
BUT
More than half a million women die each year for want of adequate reproductive health care.

SOURCES: United Nations Human Development Report (1995 and 1998); The State of World Population 1998 (UNFPA); Survey by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (Geneva), 1997; International Labor Organization Press Release, 1995.

X. REFERENCES
Following is a short list of publications and organizations cited in the film and/or the educational guide. Please contact A Woman's Place if you would like a more comprehensive list of publications on the themes the project presents.

PUBLICATIONS

Flavia Agnes, "Redefining the Agenda of the Women's Movement within the Secular Framework".

Mary E. Asmus, Tineke Ritmeester and Ellen Pence. "Prosecuting Domestic Abuse Cases in Duluth: Developing Effective Prosecution Strategies from Understanding the Dynamics of Abusive Relationships". Hamline Law Review. Vol. 15. 1991.

Lawrence M. Friedman, "Legal Culture and Social Development," Law and Society Review, No.4, 1973

Ratna Kapur and Brenda Crossman. Subversive Sites: Feminist Engagements with Law in India. Sage Publications. 1996.

Ramla Khalidi and Judith Tucker. Women's Rights in the Arab World. Special Publication of the Middle East Research and Information Project. Washington, DC. 1991.

Digby Squhelo Koyana. Customary Law in a Changing Society. Juta and Co. 1980.

Margaret Schuler. Empowerment and the Law: Strategies of Third World Women. Institute for Women, Law and Development. Washington, DC. 1986.

CONTACTS

DOMESTIC ABUSE INTERVENTION PROJECT (DAIP)
Minnesota Program Development, Inc.
202 East Superior Street
Duluth, MN 55802
USA
TEL: 1-218-722-2781

MAJLIS MANCH
Building 4/A-2, Golden Valley CHS
Kalina-Kurla Road, Kalina
Bombay 400 098
INDIA
TEL: 91-22-618-0394
EMAIL: flavia@majlis.ilbom.ernet.in

XI. CREDITS AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
WRITERS/EDITORS
Writer: Paromita Vohra
Editors: Maria Nicolo & Talat Shah
Questionnaire: Nasreen Contractor
Design/Format: Karpe-Diem
Sub-editor: Rehana Mishra

CONSULTANTS
Mahnaz Afkhami, Executive Director, Sisterhood is Global
Flavia Agnes, Founder, Majlis Legal Center for Women
Joanne Fedler, Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Center to End Violence Against Women
Anne Firth Murray, Founding President, The Global Fund for Women
Janet Sternberg, Author, The Writer on Her Work
Martha Thompson, Professor, Northeastern Illinois University

SPECIAL THANKS
Shebana Coelho
T. Jayashree
Pooja Malhotra
Samina Mishra
Anitha Nair
Nayak
Catherine Stewart
Pat Van Heerden
Tuhina Vohra

A Woman's Place is a national production of Maryland Public Television.

TO RECEIVE COPIES OF THE FILM OR EDUCATIONAL GUIDE AND TO RETURN QUESTIONNAIRE, PLEASE CONTACT:

In South Africa
CATHERINE STEWART & PAT VAN HEERDEN
7 9th Street
Melville, 2092
SOUTH AFRICA
TEL: 27-11-482-3124
EMAIL: caterina@mweb.co.za

In the USA
MARIA NICOLO
201 West 85th Street, #8C
New York, NY 10024
USA
TEL: 01-212-877-3253 (or 1-800-697-5770 until December 20, 1998)
EMAIL: maria_nicolo@msn.com

In India
PAROMITA VOHRA
28/17-A, PMGP
Off Mahakali Caves Road
Andheri (E)
Bombay 400 093
INDIA
TEL: 91-22-837-7960
EMAIL: parodevi@bom5.vsnl.net.in

 

 

"One is not born a woman. One becomes one."
Simone de Beauvoir, 1942. Copyright, "A Woman's Place", 1998.


Home
International Documentary Series
Comprehensive Distribution and Outreach Plan: Experiences with the Pilot Episode
Media Education Demonstration Project
Advisory Board
Educational Guide
Who We Are