Freedom of speech and freedom of the press is something that we hear often here in the United States. They’re rights that we have and can expect to be upheld in court if something goes wrong. But often we forget those rights don’t apply everywhere and the right to basic civil liberties don’t as well.
A new documentary, Writing with Fire, not only shines the light on the inequities within the caste system in India but on women who are trying to make a change. The movie follows a group of women who are trying to make a change in their community and country despite the world telling them they’re not allowed to. The movie follows the women of Khabar Lahariya—all from the Dalit (“untouchables” caste), a group of women who are not given an education, often married off in childhood, and who are only allowed to care for the family. But instead, together they have created Khabar Lahariya, a women-owned and maintained newspaper that isn’t going to follow the rules and do what they’re told.
While Writing with Fire shows the struggles the women of Khabar Lahariya go through just to keep working, it also shows their day to to day struggles. From the opposition to them working to their receiving any form of education other than housekeeping and even what it takes for them to learn how to switch to a more digital format – when many don’t have electricity in their homes to charge the devices. Things that we take advantage of daily are an extreme luxury to the women who are striving to make a difference in their country and cover groups of people who have even less than them.
Writing with Fire is eye-opening. It shows you the disparities in the world outside of our borders as well as within other countries. It shows how a system can be made to hold down a segment of the population, and what even one voice can do to change it. The movie highlights a lot of human rights issues that are being ignored by the Indian government, and how the women of Khabar Lahariya are trying to make a difference for everyone in their country.
Writing with Fire is a must-see documentary, and important to highlight the struggles of press members in different countries. While the movie shows a lot of bad that happen to the women in Khabar Lahariya, it also highlights the achievements of these women despite all of the odds being stacked against them.
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About Writing with Fire:
Reporting from a social environment built to divide based on caste and gender, a fearless group of journalists maintain India’s only women-led news outlet. The women of Khabar Lahariya—all from the Dalit (“untouchables” caste)—prepare to transition the newspaper from print to digital even though many of their reporters don’t have access to electricity at home. Armed with smartphones, Chief Reporter Meera and her team of journalists confront some of India’s biggest issues—investigating cases of caste and gender violence, police corruption, environmental injustices, and more. WRITING WITH FIRE chronicles the astonishing determination of these local reporters as they empower each other and hold those responsible for injustice to account. Reaching new audiences through their growing platform, the women of Khabar Lahariya redefine what it means to be powerful.