Wednesday, January 5, 2011

ichannel Documentary Highlights: Missing Girls in India, Shari'ah Law in Nigeria

** ichannel Premiere **
INDIA'S MISSING GIRLS - Thursday Jan. 20 at 9 pm ET/PT - In July 2007, authorities in a small town in eastern India found the remains of dozens of aborted female fetuses dumped on property owned by a private clinic – a grim discovery that shed light upon one of Indian society’s darkest secrets: every week, thousands of baby girls are aborted, killed or abandoned, simply because of their gender.

The Indian culture has long prized sons over daughters. While boys carry on the family name and provide for their parents in old age, girls are seen as an expensive burden: by tradition, when a daughter marries, her parents are obliged to pay a dowry to the groom’s family – a custom that leaves many poor families mired hopelessly in debt.

In recent years, advances in medical technology have further fueled this obsession with sons. Despite government efforts to curb the practice, private ultrasound clinics throughout India do a brisk business in sex-determination tests, which in turn has led to a surge in abortions of unborn girls, and helped contribute to a growing imbalance in the country’s female-to-male ratio. According to some estimates, by 2020 India will be losing as many as a million girls every year.

This BBC documentary investigates the tragedy of India’s missing girls, as seen through the eyes of Sandhya Reddy, whose orphanage in the southern part of the country struggles to help some of the victims of this crisis: unwanted girls, some just days old, who have been abandoned or sold by their own families.

INSIDE A SHARI'AH COURT - Friday Jan. 21 at 9 pm ET/PT - A growing number of Muslims here in Canada and throughout the Western world want to see the system of Islamic law known as Shari’ah introduced in the countries where they reside. This prospect alarms many non-Muslims.

Proponents say Shari’ah would simply function alongside a country’s existing legal system, dealing mainly with mundane civil matters such as marriage, property, custody and family disputes. Critics of Shari’ah, however, describe it as a harsh and oppressive system that metes out brutal punishments – such as stoning for adultery – and promotes the mistreatment of women. Its fiercest opponents portray it as a vehicle for Muslim domination of the West.

In this BBC documentary, award-winning filmmaker Ruhi Hamid seeks out the truth about Shari’ah by traveling to Nigeria to see Islamic justice in action.

Beginning in 2000, a number of states in northern Nigeria made the controversial decision to introduce Shari’ah, triggering riots that left more than 300 dead. Yet despite the initial fears, Shari’ah today is credited with helping to reduce violence, alcoholism and drug abuse in many communities. As Hamid observes the system in practice, in the courtroom of Judge Isah, she discovers that the reality of Shari’ah is far more complex than those on either side of the debate acknowledge.

More highlights: Encore Presentations

With so many options available to young Canadian women, few consider entering the convent anymore. This fascinating documentary ponders the fate of religious orders in an increasingly secularized society, and follows Joanne O’Regan, a thirtysomething Toronto woman who – to the shock of her friends and family – has decided to take the nun’s vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.

Why are we in Afghanistan? This documentary follows independent “citizen journalist” Richard Fitoussi on a journey to Afghanistan’s southern frontier to find out why Canadian soldiers are fighting and dying on a mission that has sparked more controversy than any other military intervention in our history.

PRESCRIPTION: SUICIDE? - Wednesday Jan. 19 at 9 pm ET/PT
Troubling evidence suggests that children who take prescription antidepressants may have a higher risk of suicide. This documentary takes a look at how the lives of six ordinary families were changed irrevocably when their children started taking these so-called “miracle drugs.”

JERRY LOVE - Saturday Jan. 22 at 9 pm ET/PT
A true story of love and loss, set against the backdrop of the German occupation of the British Channel Islands during the Second World War.

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