Forbidden Voices / Yoani Sánchez

She asked only to have the same rights enjoyed by a man in her country. She took the loudspeaker to expose laws that in Iran left her defenseless and at a disadvantage against men. Blogger and feminist, Farnaz Seifi went into exile in Germany after having been arrested and threatened many times in the land of her birth. With her family victimized by growing coercion, she had to write under a pseudonym. The drama she is living is an ancient one, but she knows that the absurdity could end one day, could be over in a moment. This small hope has led her to refuse to give in, and she has joined the Change for Equality movement, created by some twenty activists. She uses her keyboard to stop the scourge, and social networks as a way to denounce the outrages many women don’t dare to speak of.

For her part, Zeng Jinyan holds on to love. That affection that joins her with Hu Jia, the famous defender of human rights in China. Her husband has systematically denounced the mistreatment of people with AIDS and the environmental damage in a country where a single party promotes a single version of reality. Through the Internet, Zeng has related her most difficult moments in recent years, the detention and imprisonment of her husband, the long days of house arrest she and her baby have been subjected to, and the tender embrace of her husband when he was freed. Technology brings curious paradoxes; it prevented her from leaving home, and yet cyberspace shortened the distance between her and her readers.

I have been placed alongside these two wonderful women in a documentary that examines the use of new communications media as a weapon against censorship. Under the title “Forbidden Voices,” the Swiss director Barbara Miller has collected images, interviews and domestic scenes that show the human being behind a Twitter account, the person whose virtual presence is much freer than her real one. So this is an accurate story of four women, three of them eager to find respect and space in their respective societies, and a fourth, the author of the film, making use of her lens and great patience to express visually her own rebellion.

14 June 2012