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Salma

Like many other women in rural South Asia, Salma, a young Muslim girl in India, was forced into seclusion once she reached puberty. She was forbidden by her family to study and pushed into marriage. Words were Salma's salvation. Once married, Salma began covertly composing poems on scraps of paper and, through an intricate smuggling system, was able to sneak them out of the house,... » and into the hands of a publisher. Salma won numerous accolades and was written about in the media. Against the odds, Salma became a famous poet: the first step to discovering her own freedom and challenging the traditions and code of conduct in her village. Her extraordinary story is one of courage and resilience. Salma has hopes for a different life for the next generation of girls, but as she sees, familial ties run deep and change is slow. Official Selection Sundance Film Festival 2013

Criminal law reform to address sexual violence has been the subject of national debate in India since the gang rape and death of a 23-year-old woman in New Delhi in December 2012. The Indian government set up a three-member committee to consider reforms to strengthen laws against sexual violence. A new ordinance signed in February 2013 unfortunately ignores the committee's key recommendations, especially on police accountability and framing sexual violence as a violation of women's rights to bodily integrity. Human Rights Watch called on legislators in India to substantially amend or replace the new criminal law on violence against women such that it reflects international human rights law and standards.