Sein Lyan Tun, the winner of the People’s Choice Award at the Forever White Ribbon Film Festival 2018, has called on men to be become involved in the movement to prevent violence against women.
“All the people, not just the women, have to fight for justice,” Sein Lyan Tun said after receiving the award, “I want to fight for all.”
The award was given at a ceremony, organised by the Gender Equality Network, marking the end of the film festival and the 16 Days of Activism to raise awareness of violence against women. The film festival screened a series of documentaries and short films across Myanmar, with audiences voting for the entry they considered the People’s Choice.
Sein Lyan Tun’s entry for the Forever White Ribbon Film Festival 2018 was the documentary “Unsilent Potato”. In addition to the People’s Choice Award, Sein Lyan Tun also won the award for the best documentary film.
The documentary focuses on the story of Ar Loo Ma, known as “Potato” to her family, a deaf and mute girl who experienced sexual violence and became pregnant from the incident. Her family narrates her story and their struggle for justice in their community.
Jurists praised the documentary for its focus on gender and being a “justice-orientated film”. Sein Lyan Tun was also commended for the trust he built with Ar Loo Ma’s family as they worked together to tell her story.
Dr Johann Hesse, the Head of Cooperation for the EU Delegation in Myanmar, also spoke about the need for men to take responsibility for preventing violence against women.
“Since the primary perpetrators of violence against women are men, men and boys should serve as role models […] and condemn the use of violence at home and in the community,” Dr Hesse said.
Both Dr Hesse and Sein Lyan Tun expressed support for the proposed Protection and Prevention of Violence against Women Bill. The bill has been delayed since 2013, with the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement planning to see it made law in 2019.
“I really want to fight for justice, the law has to be changed,” Sein Lyan Tun said at the end ceremony, but adding he was glad that more people were becoming aware of the struggles women like Ar Loo Ma faced.
Even if the bill becomes law, Dr Hesse said he believes that attitudes to women in society will also need to change.
“Laws alone, ladies and gentlemen, are probably not ‘just enough’. In the end, we are talking about what both men and women think is acceptable and normal in society.”