Now Streaming: ‘Because We Are Girls’ Is a Cathartic #MeToo Tale

Salakshana Pooni in Because We Are Girls

By Pat Mullen

What is it like to grow up in a culture that doesn’t value its daughters? Because We Are Girls, directed by Baljit Sangra, confronts this question with the story of sexual abuse in an Indo-Canadian family. Sisters Jeeti, Salakshana, and Kira Pooni revisit a painful chapter from their past in which a family member abused them. Through their personal and shared traumas, the film offers a cathartic lesson about granting a voice and agency to all members of one’s family—and society overall. It’s not an easy watch, but a necessary one.

Because We Are Girls, released today to stream freely from the NFB, gives audiences a perspective from the silence breakers in the wave of stories of sexual abuse that emerged with the #MeToo movement. However, the film sets itself apart with its sensitivity. “[Sangra] ensures that the survivors have space to express their lives outside of trauma, while equally exploring how trauma can impact the innocuously quotidian,” wrote Chelsea Phillips-Carr while reviewing Because We Are Girls at Hot Docs. “Seeking the support of their family, who are not always capable of giving it, the sisters articulate the nature of their traumas, the stigmas that surround them, and their individual needs to cope and heal.” The doc was one of the most acclaimed Canadian non-fiction films on the festival circuit for 2018/2019 with a run that included the opening night slot at Vancouver’s DOXA Festival, as well as wins for Best Canadian Feature and Best Director at the Vancouver Asian Film Festival and the Audience Award at Toronto’s ReelWorld Film Festival.

Synopsis: A conservative Indo-Canadian family in small-town British Columbia must come to terms with a devastating secret: three sisters were sexually abused by an older relative beginning in their childhood years. After remaining silent for nearly two and a half decades, the sisters finally decide to come forward—not only to protect other young relatives, but to set an example for their daughters as well.

Watch Because We Are Girls from the NFB:

Because We Are Girls, Baljit Sangra, provided by the National Film Board of Canada