Elevate Difference

Three Sisters

Three Sisters is part of the Life Series collection which is funded by BBC World and TVE International. The episodes are meant for classroom use from grades seven to twelve, or even college age. This particular episode focuses on the women of Eritrea, a small country near Ethiopia, Sudan, and Somalia. After fighting alongside men in a fifty-year war for their country's independence from Ethiopia, Eritrean women also won their personal independence. The Life Series follows Belainesh, a member of the Women's Union who is doing community outreach and eduction in the rural parts of Eritrea. She meets three women who are sisters, each battling against a different tradition. 

The first sister we are introduced to is Leyla, who is trying to decide whether to circumcise her youngest daughter, even though she knows the methods used are not entirely safe. Female circumcision is performed because it is believed that if a girl is not circumcised, she will not become a true woman. There are many risks to being circumcised because it is done at a young age (under one year old) and is often performed by an elder of the tribe, who may not have full seeing abilities. The wrong area being cut could lead to infection, or even death.

Another woman, Amena, is thirty-five years old and has given birth to all six of her children at her home with no problems. Amena is pregnant again, but now has the option of giving birth at a midwife's clinic, something that was not previously available to her.

The last woman, Howa, is twenty-nine and has four children. She has an opportunity to receive land from the government, but is debating whether she should plow the land herself, given that women are not traditionally allowed to plow.

Belainesh interacts with each of these women in this episode, and informs them of the risks they face if they follow their Eritrean traditions. Belainesh believes Leyla will most likely not circumsize her daughter and Howa will eventually plow her own land, but Amena is still unsure if she is willing to break tradition and give birth outside of her home. The women know that they will eventually take steps toward different life choices, but breaking ties with tradition is a slow and complicated process.

Written by: Chrissie Thornburg, May 12th 2009

Thanks Brooke! We try our best to listen and incorporate criticism. :)

FR - Thanks for caring enough :) It will be the thing to set you apart and keep 'em coming back. ~Brooke

Aaminah- I will change the review to clarify that independence was gained from Ethiopia.

Anon - The initial review had a false statistic in it about Muslims, so the statement was removed.

Why was this removed and reedited? What was the problem before and who complained?

I'm glad to see that the review was edited to remove the outright falsehood it was previously perpetuating.

However, where it still lacks is in referencing Eritrea as a country near Somalia and then immediately after stating that they have recently won their independence. This sets up a false assumption that Eritrea won their independence from Somalia and therefore has a relationship to the Somalis. In fact, their independence is from Ethiopia.

This review has been removed and re-edited from an earlier version.