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Women, War and Peace Review, Movie Review Example

Pages: 5

Words: 1299

Movie Review

PBS’ Women, War & Peace is a five-part documentary series produced by Abigail Disney, Pamela Hogan and Gini Reticker and narrated by Geena Davis. This documentary challenges the usual perception that war and peace are men’s domain. The part series include: I Came to Testify, Pray the Devil Back to Hell, Peace Unveiled, The War We Are Living and War Redefined. It focuses on stories of women in regions affected by conflict; from Colombia to Liberia, Bosnia to Afghanistan. This series places women at the core of very important and urgent dialogue in relation to conflict and security in the society. The last part of the series, War Redefined contains insightful interviews with survivors of war, leading thinkers, Secretaries of State and seasoned peace-making personalities. Through the discussions, there are revelations on how the proliferation of small arms has altered the war scene, with women becoming the main targets and have to put up with unprecedented losses. At the same time, they illustrate how women are coming up as essential partners in negotiating lasting peace.

For the review, I focused on two titles of the series namely: I Came to Testify and Pray the Devil Back to Hell, to illustrate the concepts of peace, power, justice and interdependence. Peace can be defined as a state of well-being characterized by compassion, justice and trust. It provides us a chance to look at ourselves and others as part of the human family, part of one world. Peace can be categorized into two positive peace and negative peace. Positive peace is basically cooperation and integration amid human groups and entails the exploration for positive state of affairs which can be used to resolve basic foundation of conflict that result to violence (Perkins& Sandy, 2004). On the other hand, negative peace is defined as a state requiring a set of social structures that provide security and protection from acts of direct physical violence committed by individuals, groups or nations (Perkins & Sandy, 2004).

Interdependence occurs when the outcomes of individuals are influenced by each other’s actions. Hence this can result to either positive or negative interdependence. On the other hand, justice can be described simply as the moral rightness based on religion, law, ethics or equity. It is divided into four: distributive also known as social justice, it focuses mainly on allocation of resources, contributive which focuses on what people are expected and are able to contribute to society, criminal often called corrective justice deals with rectification, retribution of an initial position disturbed by harmful behavior and punishment of the offenders, and procedural justice encompasses all aspects of the above and ensures that the procedure of attaining justice is fair (Spagnoli, 2010).

Max Weber described power as, the chance of a person or a number of persons to realize their own will in communal action even against the resistance of others who are participating in the action (Preserve articles, 2012). It can be divided into two: coercive power or authority. Coercive power is regarded as illegitimate by those subject to it and in most cases uses threats or violence to achieve its means while Authority is the form of power accepted as legitimate i.e, it is right and just and therefore obeyed on that basis (Preserve articles, 2012). Under authority, we have:

  • Traditional authority which is based on the fact that, it has always been present and is binding upon all the members who live within it.
  • Charismatic occurs from the fact that this authority has traits held by super human and has personal magnetism, which set him/her apart from others,
  • Rational- legal Authority is based on the validity of a consistent set of abstract impersonal principles and rules.

I Came to Testify highlights the testimonies of 16 Bosnian women at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. They give an insight of the horrific events in the town of Foca, Bosnia, a site of one of the rape camps. In the film, the women openly discussed and gave personal accounts of the use of rape as a device of torture and a common weapon during the war. In the film, the concept of power, specifically coercive power comes out clearly. During this period of torture, the women could not disagree with any orders they were issued with since they had no power over the authorities.  Moreover, the authorities used threats and even physical violence which included raping them to get what they wanted.

When the war came to an end, the survivors were able to seek justice by referring their cases to the international criminal court in The Hague. A tribunal was set up to specifically address the issues pertaining to war in the former Yugoslavia. This brought about changes in the examining and prosecution of sexual crimes. In the long run, the survivors attained justice and are moving forward towards positive peace in the country due to the presence of relevant structures and tools such as the justice and reconciliation tribunal to ensure lasting peace.

Pray the Devil Back to Hell documentary focuses on the Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace movement, which was lead by Lleymah Gbowee. The series gives an account of the extraordinary story of the Liberian women who came together to stop a civil war and bring lasting peace to their torn country. They courageously took on the cruel and violent warlords as well as the corrupt Charles Taylor regime. As the rebels hold on Monrovia increasingly became strong and the numerous peace talks collapsed, these women formed an unshakable barrier between the conflicting forces, and demanded an end to the war.

In one of the scenes, the women barricaded the location of the peace talks in Ghana, and made it clear that they would not move until the parties came to an agreement. Their persistence worked regardless of the various threats they were issued with. Their protest led to the exile of Charles Taylor and the subsequent election of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. In the film, the aspect of coercive power is also brought out clearly. Just as in the Bosnian case, the women in Liberia were also subjected to constant threats and physical violence. Some were even charged in court for hindering “justice” as a way of stopping them from challenging and changing the situation. Furthermore, there were numerous cases of women being raped, beaten or even killed during the war.

There is also the aspect of negative social interdependence, whereby those supporting the conflict were lead by greed, need for money and acquiring absolute power. This placed the lives of the local citizens in jeopardy. In the end, the citizens of Liberia got justice through the intervention of the international criminal court. The court issued warrants of arrests to the former warlords and the former country’s president, Charles Taylor. Moreover, institutions were set up to promote and facilitate reconciliation among the citizens in order to ensure there is lasting positive peace in the once shattered country.

From the two series, it is clear that women play both roles in war; they can be the victims and can also play a significant role in the forging of lasting peace in the society. In both cases, there is the use of corrective justice or criminal justice. The survivors are able to obtain justice through the international criminal court and truth commissions. Moreover, it is clear that the concepts of peace either negative or positive, power, justice and interdependence greatly influence and shape interaction between people in a society.

References:

Perkins, .R. & Sandy, .L.R. (2004). The nature of peace and its implications for
peace education. Retrieved on 18/10/2012 from http://jupiter.plymouth.edu/~lsandy/peacedef.html

Preserve articles. (2012). Sociologists make distinction between two types of power: Power and      authority. Retrieved on 17/10/2012 from      http://www.preservearticles.com/2012031226878/sociologists-make-distinction-between-two-types-of-power.html

Spagnoli, .F. (2010). The Ethics of Human Rights (33): Different types of justice and the link to equality. Retrieved on 19/10/2012 from http://filipspagnoli.wordpress.com/2010/06/28/different-types-of-justice-and-the-link-to-equality/

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