5 Films That Highlight the Reality of Gender-Based Violence

Learn about how to spot and stop gender-based violence through the power of film.

About one in three women globally have experienced gender-based violence at some point in their lives, resulting from centuries of inequality that have reinforced harmful power structures. As The World We Want advocates for Sustainable Development Goal 5, we recognise that the world will never achieve gender equality unless we reckon with the effects of gender-based violence.

But what exactly is gender-based violence?

While the term refers to any act of harm directed at a person because of their gender, gender-based violence predominantly affects women. Physical, sexual, and mental abuse, female genital mutilation (FMG), sex trafficking, and child marriage are just a few examples of gender-based violence, but there are unfortunately so many more.

Furthermore, inequality tends to spur inequality, which is why gender-based violence disproportionately affects women in low- and lower-middle-income countries and regions. Over the past two years, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the problem.

If we want a chance to correct the past, end inequality, and build a more just and inclusive world, we have to stop all forms of gender-based violence and uplift women.

Gender-based violence refers to any act of harm directed at someone because of their gender and predominantly affects women.

March is widely-regarded as Gender Equality Month, with the celebration of International Women’s Day on 8 March every year. One way people everywhere can show their support for gender equality is to educate themselves on the issues.

The World We Want has put together a list of five films that highlight the reality of gender-based violence for women around the world. If education is the first step to realising change, then we’re grateful for the filmmakers who are paving the way to a more inclusive future with honest storytelling.

1. “Dry” (2014)

Directed by Stephanie Linus, “Dry” warns of the horrors of child marriage. The film takes place in Nigeria and follows the story of 13-year-old Halima who is married to a 60-year-old man by her parents. Halima is subjected to abuse and abandonment until she meets Zara, a doctor who tries to help her recover.

Inspired by the problem of child marriage in Nigeria, “Dry” sheds light on an important topic that must be addressed in regions around the world.

2. “A Girl From Mogadishu” (2019)

Somali-Irish activist Ifrah Ahmed inspired the plot of “A Girl From Mogadishu” through her own experience of female genital mutiliation (FGM), which affects almost 200 million girls and women alive today. After being trafficked from Somalia to Ireland as a teenager, Ifrah is forced to relive the trauma of undergoing FGM and decides to speak out against the practice to protect future generations of girls.

3. “The Invisible Man” (2020)

The trend of popular movie genres tackling gender-based violence continues with the supernatural film “The Invisible Man,” which conveys the horror of intimate partner abuse.

“Handmaid’s Tale” actress Elisabeth Moss takes on the role of Cecilia, a young woman whose abusive ex-boyfriend is thought to have committed suicide. After several strange incidents occur that highlight the fear, paranoia, and gaslighting that survivors of abuse endure, Cecilia begins to believe her late partner faked his death and came up with a way to torment her without being seen.

4. “Bulbbul” (2020)

“Bulbbul” is an Indian thriller film from the iconic production company Clean Slate Filmz, whose founder Karnesh Ssharma recently announced a female-focused OTT platform launching in 2023. As Ssharma describes himself as a male feminist, it should be no surprise that “Bulbbul” tackles a subject that will affect 150 million girls by 2030: Child marriage.

The film follows Bulbbul, who is married off to an older man when she is just five years old. After undergoing abuse, harassment, and manipulation at home, Bulbbul decides to fight back by targeting the men in her village who harm women.

5. “The Chosen Ones” (2015)

A Mexican drama from filmmaker David Pablos, “The Chosen Ones” is a heartbreaking tale of human trafficking. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 71% of human trafficking victims are women and girls.

The film shows how the character Sofia is led into sexual slavery when her boyfriend is revealed to be grooming her for his family’s human trafficking ring. While it may be difficult to watch, “The Chosen Ones” exposes an aspect of gender-based violence that takes place beneath the surface of everyday life.


Gender-based violence will continue to result in inequality as long as the world remains ignorant. Taking the time to seek out informative and entertaining films to learn about how women are disproportionately affected by this violence can change the course of history.

We all have work to do to build The World We Want—start here, and then spread the word to achieve gender equality.