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"Healing Cultural Wounds" by The New York Times

Updated: Apr 30, 2018

Mary Olive Smith and Amy Bucher’s documentary “A Walk to Beautiful,”about the mistreatment of mothers suffering from childbirth injuries in Ethiopia, starts out quietly furious, detailing how its female subjects were ostracized by their villages, husbands, siblings, even parents.

The women have obstetric fistulas, holes between the vagina and the bladder or rectum. The holes are caused by prolonged labor and difficult birth, traumas that often deliver a dead infant and cause the mother to leak blood, urine or feces. Ethiopian women afflicted with these injuries can find themselves living in a shack behind their family home, cut off from normal social interaction and marginalized like incontinent pets.

The film follows a group of such women to a clinic in Addis Ababa, where they wait to have their injuries repaired by surgery and form the sorts of peer groups that their condition denied them back home.

While the narrative of “Beautiful” seems straightforward — women suffer and then get better — the film is a complex and quietly devastating indictment of chauvinist societies that see women as lovers, mothers and servants, and treat anyone who can’t fulfill those roles as a nonperson.

Read the full article here.


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