Made by a bold young film maker, Bernadette Tuza-Ritter, “A Woman Captured” is documentary showing real life footage of Edith’s life as a domestic slave in Hungary. A lady called Eta was Edith’s captor and she agreed to Bernadette filming Edith in exchange for money. So arrogant and sure of her actions was she that she thought nothing of having the life of her slave filmed. She failed to see that Edith’s life was worth anything to anyone. Thankfully this arrogance was her downfall.
Instead of calling Edith by her real name, Eta insisted on calling her Marish. At the end of the film Edith asks to be called by her real name once more yet so far the media still refers to her as Marish. For 11 years Edith’s identity and dignity were taken from her so let us not continue that crime here. This is Edith’s story.
Edith arrived at Eta’s home after an operation, believing it was somewhere she would be safe. She was loaned money to “help” her out and so began her 11 years of slavery. Her identity papers were taken from her and she was ruled with fear and violence to keep her quiet. Not only did she perform all house hold tasks and chores for the entire family but she also worked a 12 hour shift each day at a factory. All of her wages went straight to Eta. Edith never saw any of that money. She only ever had 4 hours sleep a night on the couch, she was only ever fed the left overs of the families meals and she was “allowed” to drink as much coffee as she liked, as if this was a perk of the “job”.
During the film we see Edith being laughed at and psychologically bullied. She also has a broken wrist as a result of the abuse inflicted on her. She has also lost her daughter who too was once a slave to Eta. However, she couldn’t take it anymore and ran away to the safety of a childrens protective agency. They speak sometimes on the phone but barely ever see each other. Edith quite literally lost everything the day she walked in Eta’s house: her identity, her dignity, her worth, her free will and her child. It just vanished and for 11 years not a single person knew. There are more than 40 million Edith’s in our world. They each have a name, a family, a story and a life.
At the beginning of the film Edith doesn’t seem to believe it’s possible that she could ever escape and have a different kind of life. The fear of what might happen to her if she ran away, conjoined with the fear of having no one to help her, were too great. Yet as we watch her friendship with Bernadette grow and she starts being treated like a human being, an equal and a loved one, her confidence grows and she begins to see that she could do it. During the film you can visibly see the chance of freedom coming to life for her. Bernadette and her friendship very much helped to facilitate this new found hope.
Edith tells Bernadette, “I just need someone to stand by me”. I found those words the most powerful of the whole documentary. All she needed was to know that one person was with her, just one person. She needed to know that she was not completely alone and by no longer being alone she began to see her self worth. I couldn’t help thinking that this is something everyone needs. To know that we are not completely alone in this world, that someone is with us. With that can come freedom and liberation and a whole life transformed. We all have the power to do what Bernadette did. Maybe not in the exact same way but with boldness, with love and a sense of someone else’s humanity, I believe we can change lives all over the world. We just need to be present.
Another thing that really struck me during the film was that in one of the scenes a member of Eta’s family (it sounded like a young girl) can’t understand why Edith has to sleep on the couch. She wants Edith to sleep upstairs in a bed as she does and she worries about Edith not having enough sleep each night. Eta’s treatment of Edith is not only not right but it’s not natural. Most children believe that the environment that they grow up in is normal, even if they don’t think it’s right or good, they assume this is what life looks like. Yet here is a young child growing up with a slave in her home and she does not look at it and think it’s normal. In fact it appears to make no sense to her whatsoever and she is be troubled by it. The fact is, we should all be troubled by it.
What is so frightening about modern slavery and Edith’s story, is that is is in plain sight every day. Edith went to and from her factory job each day. She spoke to her colleagues, she walked along the street, she went on the train, yet no one knew. Modern slavery is bold, it is fearless and most terrifyingly, it blends in.
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