Time flies when you think about it. Pheew! I can’t believe it’s already May. I hope you’ve all been enjoying your days and are making the best of it.
In this issue, we’re revisiting Mumbai’s sex trade with Sean Mooney. Worker population in the industry has grown beyond 200,000 with some as young as 15 years old. It’s a disappointing account that nobody should have to experience. We also have a review on Trishna. It’s a new film staring the lovely Freida Pinto and Riz Ahmed. Shot in India, Trishna depicts one woman’s dilemma in regards to making the right choice. On a lighter note, Melbourne artist Geoffrey O’Conner has a debut album and it’s looking good. It’s taken him a fair amount of time in getting this album up so let’s cross our fingers and hope for his success. Last but not least, we’ve decided to show you two blogs with very different topics. Pikaland is a funky arts blog while Because I Am A Girl focuses on social issues.
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melissa ethridge asha india opossom trishna movie review
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Revisiting Mumbai’s Sex Trade Human trafficking is as prevalent in India as anywhere else in the world. As a result, Mumbai’s sex worker population has grown beyond 200,000, with some as young as 15 years old.In what has become a generational cycle, millions are born into a desperate life that offers little hope of escape. However, there are many NGOs providing what they can to bring a life that is, or at least is close to, bearable for these women. Asha India is one such organisation, set up by 26 year old Emily Hanscamp. Its sole focus is assisting the most vulnerable people in Mumbai’s perilous sex industry. I spoke to Emily six months ago and since then, as expected, her workload has grown exponentially. Although unable to permanently live in Mumbai, Asha India has given her a platform to work closely with people who do. Mumbai’s red light district, Kamathipura, is the largest in Asia. Fourteen laneways cover around 150,000m2, split into an array of precincts depending on the language and ethnic background of the women who work there. It is a densely populated area with so many brothels there is hardly space to sit down, so the workers spend their days roaming the streets soliciting customers.
Asha India opened their first centre in 1998 and have recently managed to open a much needed second to increase support for the sex-workers and, perhaps more crucially, their daughters.
“Now, with two centres on either side of the red light area these amazing services and resources are accessible to all of the women and their children, with the aim of breaking this cycle.”
Recent estimates put the number of child prostitutes in India at 1.2 million, with thirty-five per cent of the 3 million sex workers in India entering the trade before they turn 18, some as young as 12.
The centre focuses around outreach, providing support and education to thousands of women, but the organisation’s increased capacity to assist society at a deeper level is just as important to Emily.
“It’s extremely hard to break the intergenerational cycle of prostitution within this context,” says Emily, “because the environment is saturated with hopelessness, and an internalised belief that this is all there is for the daughter of a prostitute.”
She feels strongly about giving hope to residents of Kamathipura who share her passion to assist victims of the sex trade in any way they can.
“We’ve launched our monthly sponsorship program,” she explains, “where Asha India, through its monthly sponsor, can support the full wages of Ptratishtha Kale who has been the Chief Co-ordinator of AAWC since May 2011. We hope in 2012 to sponsor more local women for AAWC’s new centre in the red light area, to reaching further out to the women of the brothels.” Emily’s work is essentially about offering alternatives to women who see no escape from the miserable life they lead. From education, to accommodation, to risk-free employment, Asha India provides women with a way out of an existence they never thought they could leave.“There is a wide array of options given to the women and children. Some are rescued and placed in a boarding home out of the red light area, other have been given internships at top restaurants, others simply start to work within AAWC as outreach workers or kindergarten teachers. The fate of these girls is often bleak. Recruited at five from rural areas or from neighbouring countries, then fed alcohol and drugs to render them passive and compliant, they are initially sold for a high price, such is the demand for virgins. As Emily explains, from there these young girls face a life nothing short of slavery. “They are given to as many as 20 men per night for at least the first six months, for what is known as the ‘breaking in’ period. The disorientation, combined with drugs, alcohol and the horrific number of customers are aimed at breaking the fighting spirit of any victim, creating a virtual slave. There might not be physical chains seen in the red light area, but this torturous treatment is enough to break any hope, leaving passive acceptance and no belief in another life elsewhere.”
One of the dreams of AAWC toward this end is to open a shelter home for the daughters of the women, so they no longer need to go home each night from AAWC to sleep under the beds of their mothers as they work through the night within the brothel.
Fundraisers and donations support the work Asha India does and, without stating the obvious, extra assistance is always appreciated. Every dollar received goes towards changing the course of the desperate lives these women endure every day.
At the end of 2011 ‘Creatos by Candlelight’ was held in Norhtcote. This amazing night of music, spoken word, dance, market stalls and art also went a long way toward raising awareness and resources. We reached and extended our fundraising aim of $2500!”
“In June we collaborated with Sisters for Sisters,” says Emily, “a group of female artists in Melbourne passionate about sharing their art to support women exploited through trafficking around the world, and raised $3,500 for a shelter home.
Monthly sponsorship is something that anyone can be part of for as little as $5 per month, every bit goes a long way toward the work in Mumbai. Just $500 per month sponsors Prathishtha Kale and $200 will support the full wages of an additional outreach worker for AAWC. To donate and to find out more, visit www.ashaindia.org.
by Sean Mooney
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rishna is the latest film by acclaimed British director Michael Winterbottom (Killler Inside Me, A Mighty Heart). Starring Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire), Trishna is a modern-day adaption of Thomas Hardy’s classic novel, Tess of the d’Ubervilles. Set in modern day India, Trishna is an epic tale of love and tragedy set against the desert landscape of rural Rajasthan and bustling metropolis of Mumbai. Quiet, demure Trishna (Freida Pinto) lives a poor, secluded life with her family on the outskirts of the rural town of Rajasthan. After an accident injures her father she is left as the sole provider for her family. Whilst waitressing she meets the young and wealthy Jay (Riz Ahmed), who takes an immediate shine to the beautiful Trishna and has returned to India to oversee one of his father’s hotels. Hearing of her family’s struggles, Jay offers Trishna a job in his hotel and so Trishna leaves her family to work for Jay in Jaipur. Gradually they fall in love, but despite their strong feelings for each other are forced to keep their relationship a secret. After a dramatic event separates the couple, they are reunited and move to Mumbai to live a more liberated life. Yet as Jay’s true character begins to emerge and their relationship is put to the test again, Trishna finds herself questioning the reality of her relationship, her duty to her family and herself.
The cinematography and landscapes of the film are spectacular. Desert Rajasthan is displayed in all its searing heat with rugged hills, barren plains and dusty roads. We see India and its people for all their splendor, unglamorous and authentic. Pinto is as lovely as ever as Trishna, however is a little too restrained in her leading role and lacks depth. Trishna’s internal struggle to reconcile her duty to her family, the man she loved and herself remained mostly a mystery- even right to the end of the film. The plot is fairly straightforward and well played out, however several sub-plots were left hanging and unanswered at the conclusion of the film. The drama of the film also intensified as the film progressed, yet became more akin to melodrama by its conclusion. Having not read Thomas Hardy’s original novel perhaps the film will have a different impression on those who have. Trishna is an epic tale of a love and tragedy and a young woman’s fight for freedom. Although the film is visually stunning and certainly deserves its place at the numerous film festivals it has featured at, viewers may leave the cinema feeling a little bit
by Katie Moore
by Tori Alexander
OPOSSOM Interview with
Comprising members of the Mint Chicks and Kiwi pop sensation, Bic Runga, Nielson says the development of Opossom was a natural progression: “I had known Michael (Logie) for ages, and wanted to play again with him.
Their visit in August will be Opossom’s first major tour of Australia together, having only played two shows here previously. [Fact check. Did the band play two smaller shows before this major tour? Contradictory to say ‘first major tour’ then ‘two shows here previously’] They were received rather well on those visits, with Nielson surprised at the crowd that showed up. When asked about the name of the tour, The Blind Date Tour, I get a laugh out of him. “I don’t know, I think they [the fans?] think we have never met before!”
We had both worked on Bic’s record.” Nielson says reactions to the album has been positive, although he stresses that he wrote it for his own peace of mind and is content that people are listening to it.
Blue Hawaii will also [meaning it is released in CD AND vinyl? If so, which version is sold on the tour?] be released on vinyl and sold on the tour. Over the next few months, Nielson is hoping to get to
He wrote Blue Hawaii alone as he did not want to “bother” anyone with it, but affirms he is open to future collaborations when writing for Opossom.
[Did you mean holiday travel, or performance?] the United Kingdom, the United States, and possibly a little more of Europe before beginning work on new songs. Blue Hawaii, along with Opossom’s first two EPs, can be found on iTunes and in stores. Opossom will be playing at the Astor Theatre on the 8th of August this year.
After releasing their debut album, Blue Hawaii, in July, Opossom are about to embark on an Australian tour with Jinja Safari and USA band White Arrows. I caught up with founding member, Kody Nielson, to find out how the album was received and what fans can look forward to on the tour.
Grammy-award winning, inspirational, all round awesome rock chick, Melissa Etheridge, was worth the fifteen-year wait. The crowd was set for a fast and furious night as Melissa kicked off the Perth leg of her Fearless Love tour right on the dot.
MEL IETHRI SSA DGE Starting off the concert was the title track from her latest album, Fearless Love, with a long and dramatic introduction. That induced the audience to whip themselves into a frenzy before welcoming her onto the stage with a tsunami of screams and cheers. Sporting her signature long locks draped over her guitar, she arrived in leather pants and boots to kick some serious butt. Her instantly recognisable low and gritty vocals bounced off the walls as she moved through the set list with ease. Between songs, Melissa interacted with the audience, made jokes, talked about shopping in Perth, and watching the Flight of the Conchords gig. She talked to the audience like good old friends, creating a fun and relaxed atmosphere – a trait distinct of an amazingly seasoned performer.
As she gave us insights into her personal life, the music gradually built up in volume and intensity before breaking into a climax as she proclaimed to the audience that “health equals happiness and happiness equals health,”. In essence, life was about joy. The encore was a brilliant fifteen-minute long delivery of “The Way I Do”, one of Melissa’s absolute best songs, where she even surprised audiences with her wicked drumming skills.
As one of the world’s most loved, talented and catalystic [Word check. Not sure what the writer is trying to say] performers, Melissa Etheridge did not disappoint. The bona fide entertainer did every one of her songs justice and left fans in Perth on a high note after having waited so long to see her again. Here’s hoping her next tour will be just as good! Can’t wait!
The rock star lapsed into a mini jam session with her band before receiving a welldeserved standing ovation from an audience that would have sat glued to their seats for hours just to get their ‘Etheridge’ fix.
A large portion of her mostly female audience abandoned their seats and inched through the mosh pit. At stage front, they danced and rocked out to Melissa’s best known songs including “Bring Me Some Water,” “I Want to Come Over” and “Come to my Window”. After a rendition of “Fever”, Melissa Etheridge shared an intimate moment with the audience when she introduced “I Run For Life” as an inspirational song about her battle against breast cancer.
by C Eden
by C Eden
Because I Am A Girl, (http://becauseiamagirl.ca/) is a blog full of information about what it is like to grow up in a less fortunate country. They describe the organisation as “a social movement to unleash the power of girls and women to claim a brighter future for girls in the developing world”, and go on to say that “When a girl is educated, nourished and protected, she shares her knowledge and skills with her family and community, and can forever change the future of a nation. It’s that powerful.”
The blog relates the facts about ‘Child Marriage’ and lists percentages of girls who are forcibly married through previous arrangements. The numbers are highest in girls that are less educated, and those from rural and poorer regions. Marriage at a very young age often causes depression, and sees the girls be responsible for marital and domestic duties they are not ready for. It is one of the situations the group seeks to change. The four main statements Because I am A Girl stands by are girls have the right to be educated, girls have the right to eat, girls have the right to be safe and girls’ rights are human rights. The projects focus on nutrition, water and sanitation, education, finance and leadership skills.
The blog is eye-catching, pink and black, and full of user-friendly tabs that are clear and easy to find, with videos and pictures of the team doing work around the globe to enrich the lives of previously uneducated or skilled girls. There are donation tabs, as well as tips on how to fundraise or start a “Because I am a Girl” group to change the lives of girls around the world. There are also options to “sponsor” children, sign up for newsletters and Facebook pages, Youtube and Twitter accounts to follow in order to keep up to date with what the organisation is doing. Because I am a Girl recently approached the UN for help with their cause, giving a speech containing the line, “All women were once girls, but not all girls will live to become women,” which is pretty much what they are about and the main message behind their work. They want to improve the lives of girls so they can become better women, who are educated, skilled and healthy.
Poor does not mean having no money. It can mean not having enough to eat or a roof over your head, being in poor health, and having little or no education. It can mean feeling powerless to change your life, and not being able to control what happens to you.
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â€œIt turned out that people liked what I [posted] and, as they say, the rest is history!â€?
18 March 2012. Blog Review: Amy Ngâ€™s - Pikaland.com
Born from a love of all things artistic, Pikaland.com is Amy Ng’s compilation of some magnificent illustrations. Amy stays busy with her own artwork, but the website originally began with what she found on the internet. It wasn’t long before she had earned a substantial following and soon found that artists were sending work to her in the hope they could benefit from the exposure.
As a result, Pikaland.com became a platform for illustrators across the world. Amy is a former architecture & design editor, and now a freelance illustrator
“The motivation changed to helping these artists gain more publicity,” says Amy,
from Malaysia. She began her art career on IllustrationFriday.com – an online
“as those who were featured were picked up by other publications and blogs by
exhibition for artists of any ability. Although the motivation for the website came
catching the attention of art directors and publishers across the world.”
from her own work, Amy now finds she spends more of her time helping others publicise theirs.
She started the website in February 2008 and since then Rachel Anilyse (Connecticut, USA), Gemma Correll (Norwich, UK), Jamie Shelman (Massachusetts, USA) & Melanie Maddison (Leeds, UK) have joined her Pikateam to help with the ever-increasing workload. Indeed, she must appreciate the assistance as it is clear Amy’s creative side doesn’t end with her art.
Last year Amy started Camp Pikaland, an effort to encourage budding illustrators around the world to get involved. This inspired initiative provides anyone with an internet connection online classes and access to tutors to assist with their artistic education.
“You’ll be able to connect with students and teachers while turning your workspace into a classroom as we spread the idea of art education beyond borders,” says Amy. “Recently we’ve included a curated listing of e-classes and e-books from amazing authors as well.”
What better way for Pikabooks to [help those in need] than to give books to children who need it most?” she asks. “A portion of sales from our limited edition
Amy also has a real passion for publishing and although she acknowledges that
series will go towards First Book – an organization that provides books to children
Pikaland is her central outlet, she recently began selling printing hard-copy books
in developing countries in an effort to eradicate illiteracy.
through another arm of her website. “Pikabooks came to me one day out of the blue,” says Amy, “I love publishing,
“There are more projects to come in the next few months and I’m excited about
and although I am an online publisher (blogging), I missed the days of producing
that too.” The future looks as dynamic as the last four years have been for
books that I could actually touch and keep.”
Pikaland with more plans on the horizon, but Amy’s not giving away anything just
This program it itself is an illustration of Amy’s philanthropic qualities, raising
yet.So watch this space and with daily updates, http://pikaland.com well worth a
money for a particularly fitting cause.
look in the meantime.
What better way for Pikabooks to [help those in need] than to give books to children who need it most?â€? she asks.
by Sean Mooney
Published on Aug 28, 2012