Canadian director Sarah Polley’s new Oscar-nominated film Women Talking is set in an isolated religious community where a group of women and girls must decide how to respond to sexual assault in their community. Over two days, they debate: should they do nothing, should they fight, or should they flee?
Polley has been clear that her story is fiction. It is based on a novel by Miriam Toews, a Canadian author who grew up in a Mennonite family.
But before the book and the film, there was a real community where women woke up with foggy memories and physical pain. That community is the Manitoba Mennonite Colony in Bolivia. Journalist Jean Friedman-Rudovsky traveled there over a decade ago to speak to women about what had happened to them. She says what they told her still haunts her to this day.
*A warning: today’s episode contains graphic details involving sexual assault.*