No Past to Speak Of explores the horrific reality of infant rape in South Africa and investigates the story of a five-month-old baby girl who was brutally raped in a Johannesburg slum. Ten days after the incident little Vyanna was brought into the home of Claudia Ford, an African-American academic who immigrated to South Africa in 1994 and who eventually adopted Vyanna. Claudia is faced with the immense task of undoing Vyanna's past and introducing love and stability to a life that has had neither.
Claudia is very much aware that society has labeled her daughter a "victim of rape," an unwanted mark that has come to identify her. Claudia is determined to remove this stigma so that people see her as the beautiful child she is and not simply as the survivor of an atrocious attack. The documentary follows Claudia as she embarks upon her campaign to end the culture of shame and silence, which pervades all aspects of South African society.
No Past to Speak Of is also one of the rare films to investigate and explain the reasons why infant rape occurs in South Africa more than anywhere else in the world. Through interviews with leading South African academics, researchers, activists and social commentators, the documentary critically examines the myth that sex with a virgin can cure a man of HIV/AIDS and the role the media has played in disseminating it. The film also looks at South Africa's violent history, pervasive gender inequality, and extreme disparity between the rich and the poor as possible underlying explanations for these unimaginable crimes.
Spotlight is a Link TV weekly presentation of investigative reports from around the world. Commentary is provided by prominent authors and journalists. This episode is hosted by Lakshmi Chaudhry, who has been a reporter and editor for independent publications, including Mother Jones and AlterNet, for over six years. She is currently a senior editor at In These Times.