Friday, 30 November 2012

Punishment Island needs you!

We are half way. Only one more month for our crowdfunding campaign. The risk is that the story will never be told and that the last survivors will pass away without ever being listened, or having a place in history. The whole island will disappear and no trace of women death and sufferance will be left. We, ourselves, we are really doing all we can to make sure it won't happen. The story itself really wants to be told, we feel it and we are driven by it. We need your help, every small contribution matters to us. To support us and/or to find out more about the story, watch the video above and/or check us out at

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Thanking our supporters!

This week (we are a bit late, sorry) our thanks go to:

Philine von Düszeln 
Maria Pesli
Marco Mencato
Chris Cohelo
Pina Scarnecchia
Andrea Farolfi
Roberto Musto
Annie Carletti
Velia Bianchini
Jacopo Prete
Enrica Giovannardi

Thanks for your support and solidarity.

To support us or find out more, check:

Friday, 23 November 2012

Meeting you in Florence!

 But On Thursday 29th of November at 7pm we are presenting the documentary and the crowdfunding campaign in Florence, screening trailers of the film. Lucilla Saccà, Contemporary Art Historian, will present us. The location is Circolo Vie Nuove, a well known cultural, political and social club in Florence. But don't forget that before this, we will be meeting you shortly in Rome on Sunday 25th!

"Punishment Island" needs your support. Info, trailer, pictures:

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

What is crowdfunding?

Cristina and Fauzia have made a creative video about what it is all about...

To support Punishment Island:

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Meeting you in Rome!

On Sunday 25th of November at 6pm we are presenting the documentary and the crowdfunding campaign in Rome, screening trailers of the film. The location is Libreria Griot in Trastevere, bookshop specializing in African culture. If you are in Rome, we are hoping to meet you!

Libreria Griot
Via di Santa Cecilia 1/A Roma
How to get there:

To support us:

Thanks to our supporters!!!

At the end of the week we stop a moment to think about our crowdfunding campaign. 43 days left, at the moment we have reached 18 %! A great result but there is still a lot to do. Meanwhile we thank all the people who support us! In particular this week our thanks go to:

Daniela Fellinger
Andrea Cini
Imogen Kusch
Martino Lega
Michela Marino
Cristina Zannoner

... and our constant supporter Nadia Angilella!!!

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Puberty, pregnancy and PLE

Thank goodness the PLE is over! The Primary Leaving Examination, taken in Primary 7, is the door to the future for Ugandan pupils. Sadly, all too often that door slams shut.

If a child reaches P7, he or she has done well. Such pupils are the lucky survivors. They represent the 30% of pupils who complete primary education. They have shown that they can learn abstract and theoretical concepts and have demonstrated their resilience and determination. They may have:
  • carried jerry cans of water to and from the borehole before and after lessons
  • walked several kilometres, often barefoot, to get to school
  • survived beatings from the teacher for being late
  • studied in classes of 100 or more pupils
  • managed to go all day without food
  • done their homework by candlelight or paraffin lamp, often lying on the floor of the hut.
For girls, the obstacles can be even greater. They have more domestic tasks and their education is less valued. Most significant of all, the final two years at school coincide with girls reaching puberty. It is at P5, when girls are aged 10-12, that most of them drop out of school, usually for practical reasons. Often, their families cannot afford sanitary pads so girls find it almost impossible to go to school. Some schools show girls how to make their own pads using papyrus, rags and waste paper, some provide special washrooms and spare clothes. Most, however, do little to help.

However, even if girls have access to sanitary pads, reaching puberty means they are at risk. For many, sadly, puberty means the end of education. Why? Because their parents often plan to marry them off. Marriage before age 18 is illegal, but that makes no difference. Only 20% of births are registered, and so there is usually no proof that a girl is underage. The key incentive for parents is the bride price paid by the man.

'We cannot get many cows and goats from educated girls,' said one mother in West Nile, 'so we give them when they are still young...'

One of my Ugandan friends, Pamela, told me a very sad story. She had gone up north to check on the progress of a very able P7 girl who was due to sit PLE in a couple of weeks. The sponsor paying the girl's fees was concerned because she had not received a school report for some time. When Pamela arrived at the school, the girl was nowhere to be seen. On making enquiries at the village, it turned out that she had been 'married off' to an older man in another village by her alcoholic father. And the price of this young girl? A bottle of waragi (Ugandan gin) and Shs20,000 (£5).

 Last week, the Ugandan newspapers carried various stories about PLE candidates, many of them concerning girls. For example, in Ngora District, 34 girls did not sit the exams because they were either pregnant or married off by their parents. In Kasese, 40 girls sat PLE while pregnant and 20 missed it for the same reason. Multiply these figures across the 120 districts which make up Uganda and you can see the scale of the problem. Some determined girls actually took the exam while in labour.  Babies were born before, after and even during the exams. One 14-year-old spent three days in labour, two of these in the exam room. She eventually delivered by caesarian section. 

Now, a few years ago, no girl would have been allowed to attend school while pregnant, let alone when delivery was imminent. However, districts and schools are more enlightened these days and many pride themselves on the support they give to girls in this situation.

However, let’s just stop and think for a minute. How can primary-aged girls have become pregnant in the first place? Any girl in this situation has been raped, for sexual relations with girls of that age are illegal.

Not one newspaper story mentioned the men responsible for impregnating these girls. Why did we not hear that 34 men from Ngora and 60 men from Kasese were in jail pending trial for rape? 

Easy to answer, that one. Because they weren't. Getting pregnant is considered the girl's 'fault'. How likely is it that girls aged 10-15, particularly those keen to take their PLE and progress to further study, should deliberately go out and seduce older men? One striking statistic is that in Uganda 50% of girls under 15 have been 'sexually abused', a euphemism for rape. Many become HIV positive as a result.

In the Kabale area, pregnant girls used to be thrown off waterfalls or stranded on Punishment Island. Nowadays they are married off at a reduced price as damaged goods. Both then and now, such girls and their unborn babies are regarded as objects, things to be disposed of.

However, I think they are among the bravest people I know.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Thanks to our supporters

We are ending our first week of campaign having reached 13% of our goal!!!
We thank our second round of supporters:

Adelheid Kanat
Elisabeth Ritchie
Carlo Boschi
Nadia Angilella
Barbara Tucci e Danilo Pecchioli
Julia Fellinger
Filiz & Norbert Fellinger
Daniele Antichi
Massimo Donnamaria
Massimiliano Naldini
Carlotta Givo Galeano
Antonella Rondinone
Silvia Cappelli
Pamela Pierini
Luigi Marzano
Pino Fidanza
Marta Zanzotto
Giada Araca
Michele Lanza

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Follow us on Ulule

Our crowdfunding campaign had a terrific start! We still have a long way to go. If you don't reach the target, all supporters will be refunded. Come and have a look at our profile on, where you can read about the story, about us and you can watch a video. You can even register on the site - it's simple, quick and free - to follow the project and support us later, if you wish. Remember that even the smallest contribution is important for us to reach our goal: tell the story of these women before it becomes a legend of no use to anybody. For any query write to us to:  
Thank you!

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Our first supporters!

A special thank to our first supporters! We are just at the beginning of this adventure and we have reached 5% in 48 hours ... we want to thank you for your help!

Sabrina Masoli
Francesca Moretti
Elena Orsini
Chris Cohelo
Nadia Angilella e Alessandro
Renzo Nelli
Felice Codacci
Claudia Manfredi

Punishment Island needs you!

Our campaign on Ulule has started. We have less than two months to raise at least 10.000 Euros, the minimum amount needed to get a small crew to Uganda as soon as possible and complete shooting with the survivors of Akampene. If we don't meet this goal by deadline, all supporters will be refunded. Crowdfunding proved to be the only possible alternative, since it is so difficult nowadays to raise funds for cultural projects in more traditional ways. Even with a small contribution you can help us tell this unique story about the heavy difficulties that women face in remote corners of the world.

Find out how to support us and how you will be rewarded on:

Saturday, 3 November 2012

A salute to the women and girls of Uganda

Today I went shopping. No big deal, you may say, and you would be right. I was walking up the road in our pleasant suburb of Kampala, on the way to the supermarket. Then on my right I saw two little girls, five or six years old, crouching down by the side of the lane. They looked up as I approached. One had a half-full basket of bananas, the other, rather younger, had a nearly full basket of avocados. The bigger girl was helping the little one to rearrange her produce so that the basket would balance properly on her head.

'Please buy from us,' they said.

I always have a difficulty in situations like this. These little girls could barely raise the heavy baskets onto their heads. They were immensely vulnerable to traffic hazards and physical or sexual attack. If I bought, I would be condoning child labour. If I didn't, however, I might be indirectly responsible for any beatings they received at home for their failure to sell.

I bought.

Will life be any different for these little girls when they grow up?

I suspect not. About ninety percent of Uganda's farmers are women. Even in middle class households like those around us, wives are responsible for growing much of the family's food. Women will be the ones to sell the surplus to raise money for school fees, for it is largely women who provide practical support for education  And if they fall short in their duties, they could well be beaten by their partners for Uganda has one of the highest rates of domestic abuse in the world.

In 2011, UNICEF's report The State of the World's ChildrenAdolescence: an Age of Opportunity (2011) noted that 70% of Ugandan teenagers aged 15 to 19 believed that husbands had a right to beat their wives if they burnt the food, argued with them, went out without telling them, neglected their children or refused sexual relations.

Most girls have hard lives ahead of them. However, judging by the hard work, devotion to duty and stoicism demonstrated by my two little acquaintances, they will succeed beyond expectation.

Crowdfunding campaign started

Our crowdfunding campaign has finally started. Check our page at.

You can select English or Italian to watch the video, read our texts and read Ulule rules for supporter. You can choose to donate any amount you like, at certain amount you can receive rewards, and you can choose any reward of the previous pledges. More info and explanations to come. In the meanwhile we thank our first four Early bird supporters, who were all very generous indeed. Thank you!