DCC Professor Uses Decades of Experience, Research to Spotlight Women’s Rights Abuses

Dec. 3, 2021--Renee L. K. Eastabrooks has spent decades giving voice and support to survivors of domestic and sexual violence around the world. She hopes her latest endeavors – a novel, a magazine, and serving on a jury for an international women’s film festival – can amplify her ability to draw attention to the many ways women of Southeast Asia are smashing stereotypes and finding freedom.   

Eastabrooks’ debut novel, “Inauspicious,” is the saga of a teenage bride who escapes widow-burning in India and finds freedom in New York City. News of the novel’s publication this year led to an invitation for her to serve on the editorial board of the online magazine, “Filmbuff,” a popular film publication in Southeast Asia helmed by Rwita Dutta. And through her connection with Dutta, Eastabrooks received the highly coveted invitation to serve as a jury member for the 2021 Colombo International Women’s Film Festival (IWFF).  

“I feel truly honored to be serving on this international panel,” said Eastabrooks. “As the only American, I feel it allows me to shed light and expand the conversation about women’s rights more globally, and in particular, to highlight the plight of those facing trauma.”  

Showcasing feature films, documentaries and short films, the Sri Lankan film festival draws together women filmmakers, feminist critics and women’s rights activists from around the world to celebrate and empower women in cinema. 

Eastabrooks has spent the latter half of November reviewing the international and national short film finalists. Her verdict?  

“They're all outstanding,” she said. “I was floored by the talent of these stunning artists. The stories, the cinematography excellence, and the way they were able to show beauty in impossible situations gives me so much hope for the next generation of film artists.” 

Later this week, Eastabrooks will confer with her fellow jurors to decide on the top film entries. Awards will be presented at the completion of the festival, which due to the pandemic, is being held primarily online this year. 

“It’s opportunities like this that inspire me to continue supporting survivors of domestic abuse and fighting cultural ‘norms’ that destroy lives,” said Eastabrooks. “And you can be sure, these experiences help me to inspire others to get involved and find ways – no matter how small – to support survivors of trauma.” 

Eastabrooks, who teaches philosophy, ethics, world religions and college composition, is committed to ensuring that her students benefit from her experiences and years of research. 

“I try to use as many first-person accounts as I can in my teaching,” she said. “With thirty years of encountering so many lives splintered by violence and trauma – many of whom were the same age as my students – I feel it’s vital that I bring those experiences into relatable context for them.” 

To follow this year’s Colombo IWFF film festival, see the festival’s Facebook page. 

For a review of Eastabrooks’ book, “Inauspicious,” see Kirkus Reviews.