2 decades of Malena and what has changed for women?

Malena’ an Italian film released in the year 2000 is still relevant in today’s times. Those who have watched the movie already know what I’m talking about. But let’s have a quick replay for the others.

Living in the town of Sicily, Malena is a beautiful and sensual woman whose husband never returns from the war. Set during WW2 times, the plot of the film revolves around a teenage boy who is attracted to Malena.

A glance at the movie would tell you that it narrates the story of the boy. But it’s Malena whose tale is being narrated through him. In fact, it’s a SAD story of most women who fall prey to the evils of society, gender discrimination, and prejudices.

The news of her husband’s death from war surfaces and she is left on her own.

Remember, WW2 had a long-lasting impact on the world, and Italy was no different. People were struggling for jobs, the economy was down, and men had to leave their homes to fight in the war. Basically, things were gruesome and people were suffering both financially and personally.

Malena, having no financial or emotional support tries to fetch minor jobs. Sadly, no business was ready to take her in. Why? Because their wives considered Malena a ‘characterless woman’ who was trying to steal their husbands through her beauty and crazy looks.

With no job, she confides in people who had only one motive: to take advantage of her. One thing leads to the other and she finds herself offering sexual favors in return for food and money. Nobody knows how this woman was initially raped and tortured; except for the teenage boy who used to stalk her. He knew everything.

Women of the city become furious and they eventually beat her up, tear up her clothes, and chop off her hair. In a bloodied state, Malena is asked to leave the city, and all the ‘men’ who always followed Malena like swamps of bees act as mute spectators!

Then comes the twist, her husband returns!!! Turns out he was suffering from cholera all this while. Everybody is shocked and when he asks about his wife, Malena, he is told that she was a prostitute and they threw her out of the town. At this point, the same teenage boy, who is apparently married now writes the husband a letter and tells him everything he knew. He informs him about the train Malena had boarded and advises him to search for her there.

Now let’s see how things have changed in the present. It’s been 2 decades since the film came out and nearly 8 decades since WW2 ended; what has changed for women since then?

Surely, some tremendous transformations have occurred, you can find more women in workspaces, the literacy rate in many countries has gone up, and women have become more aware of their rights. They are seen raising their voices against injustices. In fact, women are running businesses and are holding higher positions in top companies. That is incredible!

And how much has society changed?

  • Ukraine has been under attack by Russia for 5 months now. There have been reports of soldiers raping and harassing Ukrainian women. Yet another disturbing example of how women have to bear the consequences of anything and everything that happens in the world.
  • The latest controversial abortion laws in the US clearly hint at how women are deprived of even the most basic rights concerning their bodies.
  • As per the data provided by UNICEF, an estimate of 200 million girls alive today have undergone Female Genital Mutilation. It’s shocking how some cultures in various countries still follow this gruesome practice that is straightaway brutal and leads to child abuse.
  • In June 2020, Indian actor Sushant Singh was found dead in his Mumbai residence. All his fans, family, and politicians found his girlfriend a soft target. She was slut shamed, harassed, abused, and whatnot. It’s sad how people found it difficult that a man would suffer from mental health issues. Yet again, showing how society thinks that ‘behind the failure of a man is a woman.’
  • Taliban in Afghanistan has already snatched the basic rights of education from women. They are neither allowed to study in schools nor can they work.

Talking of these few examples is just the tip of the iceberg. Many other incidents apparently prove how society has been unfair to women. We may be living in a modern era where many improvements have been made, but we still notice heinous crimes being committed against women.

Malena was given the so-called respect when she had a husband, so does that mean every woman now needs a husband or other male figures in her life to feel protected and attain the dignity that she deserves?


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