A film by Ladi Ladebo

16mm/70mins./colour; in English, French, Hausa Languages. © 1994


Femi Fatoba
Abu Lo
Ariyike Oshunkoya

OBSTETRIC FISTULA, also known as Vesico Vaginal Fistulae VVF is claimed by medical experts to be “one social calamity too many” in the developing countries in Africa, where maternity services are sparse and/or mistrusted. The victims are generally poor, uneducated young girls who are forced to begin childbearing before they are fully developed physically. Because the growth of the pelvis is still incomplete, they suffer distressing complications of obstructed labour which often leads to bladder injuries.

VVF means a hole is established between the birth canal and the urinary bladder which results in urine leaking continually through the vagina. The sufferer is constantly wet and consequently begins to smell of Urine. This resultant urinary incontinence has been described as a “most frightful affliction of the humankind”. It is sometimes confused with veneral disease and the affected family feels a deep sense of shame. The poor child becomes a pariah and often ends up destitute.

THE PARIAH a dramatized documentary film in English; French; and Hausa; is the story of a young VVF sufferer who after the trauma of destitution is rescued and cured. She resumes her education and becomes a trained nurse.

THE OBJECTIVE is to dispel all myths about VVF affliction. It encourages families to allow their daughters to complete their education before being married off. The film highlights the benefits of family planning, clinics and other associated services. PARIAH provides hope for the present generation silent sufferers of this distressing but preventable obstetric affliction.


The PARIAH docu-soap features a VVF victim as the narrator; and

  •  brings into focus the biological, social and environmental factors which contribute to the high prevalence of VVF in Africa;
  •  encourages the education of girls, thereby reducing teenage marriages;
  • conveys the emotions and the trauma of a young VVF victim in a manner that will evoke a sympathetic response;
  •  aims at promoting behavioral change especially among- parents and adolescent children, opinion makers  and general public.

The project was originally funded by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).