"No Woman No Cry" screening is eye opening
Published: Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 17, 2012 23:10
Those who claim that “women have it easy” should watch “No Woman No Cry,” which was shown Wednesday as the latest installment in UConn’s Human Rights Film Series.
The documentary followed three women from various countries facing different struggles in childbirth. The film was directed and produced by Christy Turlington Burns, a former model who became fascinated by maternal mortality after the birth of her son led to hemorrhaging and nearly her own death.
“It’s an example of how a woman’s whole life can be changed,” said Dr. Amy Kenefick of the film. Kenefick, a nursing professor at UConn, answered questions from the audience about gestation following the film.
The film started in the arid deserts of Tanzania. The sparse vegetation and burning sun were almost an omen of infertility. There, Turlington followed a woman named Janet who, though over nine months pregnant, could not go to the hospital because of a lack of money and transport.
As a result, she was restricted to a nearby clinic, which was a five-mile walk and did not carry the medical equipment needed to help Janet in case of complications.
“I don’t see anyone here who can help me,” Janet said.
The documentary crew eventually ponied up the cash to get Janet to the hospital where she underwent induced labor due to dehydration and other issues. She survived, but the desperation was clear.
The next destination was Bangladesh where, according to the film, an estimated 91 percent of births are performed inside the home. Religious and cultural norms severely stigmatize hospital births, and that women are often blamed for being unable to conceive, the film said.
Monica, a Bangladeshi woman, initially refused to go to the hospital to give birth. She attempted a home birth with an untrained midwife and began to hemorrhage, before finally relenting and allowing a rickshaw to drive her to the hospital.
Fortunately, Monica survived (as did her child), although Turlington wondered if she “will ever tell” her husband, who had been away on business, of the circumstances of the birth.
Lastly, the documentary took viewers to Guatemala, where abortion is illegal. The woman followed here, Dr. Linda Valencia, was slightly better off than the previous two women, yet was still deeply embroiled in controversy.
She traveled around Guatemala, attempting to teach contraceptive methods to women who had been mislead by rumors regarding birth control.
“I don’t know one woman who won’t listen when you talk to her about her health,” Valencia said.
It was estimated that roughly 65,000 deaths occur due to illegal abortions each year in Guatemala. Another statistic given by the film hits closer to home: 1,000 women die from childbirth complications each day, two of these from within the United States where one in five women can’t afford health insurance.
The film ends with a casual interview between Turlington and her husband, actor/filmmaker Edward Burns. When Turlington was asked what people can do to help mothers such as the ones shown in the film, she said, “The easiest thing we can do is tell stories.”