Asahi Shimbun: Film to become the ray of hope

Asahi Shimbun 10/31/2018

Kibo no hikari ni naru eiga. Korekara mo.  Film to become the ray of hope.

Dome no Tabibito – Traveler to the Dome

Edited by Tetsuaki Otaki

I came to Hiroshima for the screening of my first documentary feature film, Sands of Silence at the Hiroshima City University.  I have been researching sexual exploitation and human trafficking in Asia and America for over 15 years.  This film shows light on that topic and also reveals the sexual abuse I and some members of my family suffered.

I became a journalist in Japan.  I came to Japan in 1990 as a scholarship student of European Economic Community, and became a Tokyo correspondent for El Mundo, Spanish daily newspaper. In October 1994, I covered the demonstration of the first Korean Comfort Women in front of the Japanese Diet in Tokyo. Their story impacted me and inspired me to keep writing on sexual violence and social justice. In 2008, I started to film this documentary film.

I visited the Peace Memorial Park on October 11th. Standing along the Motoyasu river and looking at the A-Bomb Dome, I remembered my father-in-law.  He was a physicist who had been involved in the Manhattan Project.  He was always reluctant to talk about it.  He was suffering.  As I am here in Hiroshima, I do feel we shall never repeat such tragedy.

In a world where nuclear weapons exist, there are two important things in order to pursue peace.  First, we have to realize that peace lies within our heart.  We need to realize the meaning of life and the purpose of life. Second, all the countries should unite and strongly demand denuclearization.

War is caused by those who have lost touch with their heart.  So are perpetrators of sexual violence and human trafficking. About 300 students came to see the film in Hiroshima.  One of them said, “Your film gives me a ray of hope.” I would like to continue to make such films from now on.

Heart-wrenching trip to EL PASO, TX and CIUDAD JUAREZ, MX

A new app and the infatigable work of advocates like Verónica Corchado in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico,  is providing a safety network to the young girls at risk of being raped, kidnapped, trafficked and disappeared everyday while commuting for work or study through what’s been called the **most dangerous corridor in the world.**

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When Liz Chávez of WISE LATINA INTERNATIONAL invited us to present Sands of Silence in El Paso, TX. I tried to obtain permission to visit the detention camps as journalist to no avail. Instead, we were able to take the temperature of a growing anti-immigrant wave that has become a tsunami as of this writing. We were able to visit a sex-trafficking shelter outside of El Paso and were denied entry at an immigrant shelter for fear we too may want to cause harm to the many families seeking asylum.

Sands of Silence Executive Producer Deirdre Roney and I were part of the panel that followed the screening, moderated by Lucía Dura, University of Texas at El Paso professor, included Laura Moreno of **Department of Homeland Security,** who was challenged to answer members of the public questions on the widespread sexual abuse that separated children in custody are experiencing.

We did travel to Ciudad Juarez, Mexico where we met the amazing advocate Verónica Corchado. Veronica has been an organizer and social activist for human rights in Ciudad Juárez, for more than 25 years. In the course of her work, she has been victim to five assaults. Committed to social change in her community, she has developed several platforms and strategies for the elimination of violence against women, including femicides. Among them an app to provide safety to young girls living in Juarez and crossing the border everyday to go to school or work in El Paso.

Veronica is currently **Director of the Municipal Institute of Women in Ciudad Juarez** and founder of the non-profit organization Colectiva Arte Comunidad, an umbrella organization for various projects empowering women through arts and culture. She is co-founder of the Cultural Community La Promesa.

Deirdre and I traveled to a hamlet in rural Michoacán state where we visited the maximum-security shelter for women and children SIN VIOLENCIA.

We are very happy that our visit allowed the shelter to receive a grant from DOLLIES MAKING A DIFFERENCE, a non-profit based in California, after hearing heart-wrenching stories of violence and abuse.

READ HERE Deirdre Roney’s recount of our visit to the maximum-security shelter.

 

On top of the safety app, there are 11 spread out through the most dangerous part of Ciudad Juarez, that are cell phone charging stations with 24 Hrs PANICK BUTTONS to alert police and the Municipal Institute for Women.

In the pictures, Chelo, Verónica Corchado and Deirdre Roney. And in the outskirts of Ciudad Juarez also with Elena Garza of Wise Latina International.

SACRAMENTO — Jan. 18 Screening hosted by WEAVE, Inc & IRC Sacramento

In Observance of Human Trafficking Awareness Month

Thursday, January 18th, 7:30 pm

WEAVE, Inc. the only Rape Crisis Center in Sacramento,

in collaboration with International Rescue Sacramento,

are hosting a Screening of SANDS OF SILENCE and

a Q&A with director Chelo Alvarez-Stehle.Sands of Silence WEAVE Film Screening Flyer