A Conversation with Phil Borges

Phil Borges, Conversations in Humanities: "Telling Stories That Inspire"

Black Box Theatre, Thursday, February 11, 7:30 pm

By Valerie K. Read

I chose this speaker because he is an activist for women rights in third world countries. His life is interesting from becoming a photographer after a thriving Dentist practice in San Francisco, California. Phil came to Seattle because he didn’t want the distraction of the Dentistry Field to pull him back. So, after three years of commercial photography he received his first job taking pictures of a series based on the people in Tibet from National Geographic Magazine. His pictures illustrated issues in the culture and country where human rights groups and corporations impacted the indigenous people.

Phil used the art of new media through video and camera. He was aided in his travels from the Amnesty Organization for food, travel, and equipment. His work in film and photography are being put on a website that will be up on National Human Right’s Day which is March 7 and the website is at www.philborges.com. He had problems with the presentation at first, but is in the process of getting it back after the glitch. His photos of how many camera stands, plugs, batteries, lighting, video and camera he brings on the trips show the details of the work that goes into these photos.

The subject matter of Phil’s work is issues of women in third world countries who are without education, resources, or individual rights. Numerous accounts of women who are sold into the sex trade through human trafficking, rape, and violence. Amnesty is an organization that has created the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with the help of Eleanor Roosevelt after World War II and it has fifty-eight members from the United States and other foreign countries.

Important Elements discussed by Phil were that 90% of women die after post-partum hemorrhaging during birth, young women under the ages of 14 are giving birth that causes the infant to get stuck and tears the wall of the bladder which causes a link of urine. This forces these young women to be outcasts in their own villages because of the stench. Also women have no voices or rights in their villages. They are the ones who do all the work in taking care of the children, tending and farming the fields, and building the villages. We learned that 15% of the world women are in legislative and 17% of women in the US legislative. In the country of Rwanda 56% of women are in their legislative.

We learned in Phil’s subject matter that one in three women have been beaten or raped by a man she knows. There are a number of acid attacks on women in a heat of anger in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Vietnam. In China there are accounts of Female Infanticide where there are 118 males per 100 females and the cause is that girls have been aborted or killed after birth. India has outlawed Ultra Sounds because it was used to see if the child was a girl or a boy and if a girl it was murdered after birth. South Africa is reporting on the number of girls under the age of 15 being raped and murdered.

The one thing I listened to that got my attention was the account of heroism from women in the world. In Ecuador a 90 year old woman named Transisto started a rebellion 25 years ago to give rights to indigenous people, a 38 year old women named Fahima in Kabul, Afghanistan taught young girls secretly during the Taliban and continues to teach in the future, and 28 year old Abay of Ethiopia was educated with the help of her uncle. She later came back as a volunteer to rebuild the ditch for water and helped get rid of the ceremony of brutalizing the female genitals. After videoing this ceremony and showing it to the elders in the counsel, the men voted to end it and now allow women to vote in issues that affect their village.

My experience was that my eyes were opened to how lucky I was to be a woman in the United States and have laws to protect my rights. I liked this public speaker because, he gave us details of his travels and wanted the audience to be aware of what is happening to young women in third world countries. I think that Conversations in Humanities bring students and people in the community together to learn from each other, to educate us in what is happening outside our country and how we can come together to help.

This experience has encouraged me to continue in my determination to be a screenwriter for film or movies and maybe documentaries. I have been enlightened and given something to look forward to in my career.


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