Born Into Brothels Movie Discussion Guide (1/12)
The following set of questions are designed to engage learners in a discussion of the topics and themes of the film Born Into Brothels, following a screening of the documentary to your class. A list of all the clips in this film can be found as an additional attachment. Prior to showing the film, educators should prepare learners by discussing key topics addressed in the film. For example, educators could review with students the history of West Bengal or review a list of the ‘red light districts’ around the world. For a good history review as well as statistical data regarding the red light district featured in this film, Sonagachi, visit: http://www.positivenation.co.uk/issue85_6/features/feature6/feature6_1.htm
This is part 1 of 12 from the Born Into Brothels Curriculum Companion. To view the entire curriculum, please visit: Born Into Brothels: Companion Curriculum.
Time Required: apx. 1 hour/one class
• To introduce discussion and analysis of the social issues in the red light district of Calcutta as depicted in the film born into brothels
• To demonstrate how students can use art to empower themselves and how to redistribute that power to others
• To examine discrimination and the right to education
• To engage students in discussion of social responsibility and activism curriculum
1. What human rights issues are illustrated in the film? What international laws are in place to stop or prevent those abuses?
2. In the beginning credits of the film, we see images of the children’s eyes looking down on images of the red light district. What themes do these images reflect? What does it tell the viewer about the children? (Clip 1)
3. What is the role of photography in this film? Of music? (Clips 19, 31, 33, 54)
4. What are the changes in the children’s outlook and personalities when they are taken out of the brothel to the beach and zoo? (Clips 20-21, 31-33)
5. If these children were taken out of the brothel environment permanently, do you think that they could fully recover from the injustices and trauma that they have previously faced? Why? Why not?
6. If life in the brothels is all the children have ever known, then how do they know that it is not how they want to live? If it has become the norm, then how do they know that it is not normal for a child to grow up in that environment? Are we born with an internal human rights’ radar? Is awareness of human rights a part of human nature? (Clips 17, 26, 40-41)
7. What can we do for kids that have not been presented with an opportunity to leave the brothels or who have not been helped by someone like Zana? What kind of programs can we implement to create sustainable change for all children of sex-workers? Is it enough to help the children? Why or why not? What can be done for the mothers and the rest of the community?
8. Why did Zana become so involved with these children? What lessons did Zana learn throughout her journey? There were times when Zana seemed to get very frustrated with the bureaucracy in India. What do you think kept her going? (Clips 3, 36-39, 50)
9. Think about the scene in which Zana is talking to a school principal about the possibility of enrolling the children into school. The principal says “no one will take them.” (Clip 25)
• What does it mean to have the right to education?
• What challenges do these children face in claiming their right to education?
• Should the possibility of being HIV positive affect your right to an education?
• Should your economic or social status affect your right to an education?
• Should being the child of a sex-worker take away that right?
Explain your answers.
10. Zana is not just documenting these children, but she is enabling them to document what they see around them. What opportunity does this provide for them?
11. Reflect on the scene at the zoo where Gour was so affected by the fate of the animals. What do his words tell you about the children featured in this film? (Clip 20)
12. Documentary film often only includes the perceptions and ideas of the filmmakers. What are the pros and cons associated with this? In your opinion, was there anything that was left out of this film?
A copy of the documentary film Born Into Brothels, as well as the attached document Film Clips, for specific segments throughout the film that correspond to the discussion questions.
Web Pages Used
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