UC Berkeley Library

Grandma's Tattoos

Reveals the fate of thousands of forgotten women, mostly teenagers and young girls, who survived the 1915 Armenian Genocide but were forced into prostitution by their captors. Many of these women were tattooed as a permanent mark of their status. Filmmaker Suzanne Khardalian begins the film by remembering her grandmother: "Grandma Khanoum was not like everyone else. She had blue tattoos on her face and hands. She despised physical contact. She never hugged anyone, never gave kisses. And she always wore gloves, which hid her hands and her tattoos, and her secret." Haunted by these memories, Khardalian embarks on a personal journey into her family history to investigate the truth behind her late grandmother. Eventually small truths are revealed and pieces of the puzzle begin to come together. In 1919, just at the end of WWI, the Allied forces rescued nearly 100,000 Armenian girls and children who, during the war years, were forced to become prostitutes to survive, or had given birth to children after forced or arranged marriages or rape. These women were forcibly marked, tattooed, as property, the same way you mark cattle. Following the war, many of these women were viewed as impure and tainted, and often shunned by society. A film by Suzanne Khardalian. Dist.: The Cinema Guild.

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