Film about ‘aftermath’ of rape shows sexual violence follows Indian women to Canada

LARISSA CAHUTE
VANCOUVER DESI 

Actresses Agam Darshi and Patricia Isaac photographed in 2011. Isaac doesn’t want the recently publicized sexual violence against women in India to be an ‘over-there’ issue. Submitted photo

Vancouver-based actress Patricia Isaac doesn’t want the recently publicized sexual violence against women in India to be an “over-there” issue.

“There’s a disconnect when we think there’s a problem ‘over there,’” Isaac told Vancouver Desi.

So the star of CBC’s Republic Of Doyle decided to take action and take on her first-ever producer role in the short film Shamed — The Girl Who Wouldn’t Stay Quiet, which is set to film in April.

Her call to action was inspired by December’s fatal gang rape in New Delhi that outraged the whole nation, and also years of research at rape relief shelters across Canada.

“The infuriating part was when I went to a [Canadian] rape relief shelter and they said one of the No. 1 ethnicities that they experience coming in was South Asians, because they were known to be the quietest,” she said.

According to Hilla Kerner of the Vancouver Rape Relief Shelter, this is true for all women from “conservative communities.”

“[Those] women are more discouraged to come forward,” said Kerner. “Most women will decide not to go to the police … because of the stigma that is attached to that.”

Not only are they embarrassed, but they feel it brings dishonour to their family.

Isaac’s film is about “one girl’s journey and her turning point as to why she can’t stay quiet.”

By showing the girl’s journey — played by Rekha Sharma — Issac hopes to “open up a dialogue” around the shaming of women within South Asian cultures.

“This isn’t a film about rape — it’s a film about the aftermath,” said Isaac. “I’ve worked with and also spoke with over the years many, many young girls, and also older women in their 50s and up, that have just never come forward.

“That breaks my heart.”

In her film, Isaac illustrates that shaming happens here in Canada as families immigrate outside of India and continue to raise their girls as they would in their home country — “shaming them for their sex, for their development, creating a place where they’re fearful to even come forward.”

“It’s just so frustrating,” she added.

So when her film is released, she hopes girls walk away feeling empowered.

The film is directed by Vancouver Film School graduate DJ Parmar.

“It’s important to have both male and female [involved],” said Isaac. “It’s not intended to be some kind of either culture blaming or male blaming … but to have a conversation about it.

“The point is for the film to be a voice that hopefully instils hope and empowerment and more than that just really highlights the effects of shaming.

“It’s hard to keep witnessing just the fact that there’s not a safe place they [feel they] can stand up and go and get justice.”

About $7,000 is still needed before the movie starts filming by April, so a fundraiser will be held on Friday at Charqui Grill, 1955 Cornwall Ave., in Kitsilano.

The event starts at 6 p.m. with drinks, food, performers and a date auction. Tickets for the event can be purchased at http://filmfair.brownpapertickets.com

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