In Olivia Wilde's new documentary Fear Us Women, Canadian citizen Hanna Bohman doesn't even blink when she says ISIS fighters are afraid of dying at the hands of women since it means they won't go to heaven. "It's an insult to them," she says, "to be killed by a woman."
Bohman, 48, is a former model who made headlines in recent years because she's one of the few Canadians who have joined the fight against ISIS. She's been on the front lines of the war in Syria on and off since 2015, and Fear Us Women, executive-produced by Wilde, follows Bohman and the women of the YPJ, the all-female division of the Kurdish People's Protection Units, as they fight against the terror group.
In the documentary, directed by David Darg and produced by RYOT, Bohman says she couldn't just stand by and see the horrors of the war without doing something, and that she wanted to "help with the women's revolution." The sentiment of springing into action and supporting other women in order to create change couldn't be more timely.
"I strongly believe in women standing up for each other and taking this fight to the global stage. Hanna's story in Fear Us Women is one of countless stories of the women in the YPJ and their fight for liberation in Syria," Wilde tells Refinery29. "The courage and sacrifice it takes for that cause is so incredibly inspiring, and I hope it motivates women around the world to continue standing up for their rights."
Darg, the director, tells Refinery29 the film shows the "collective power" of a women-led resistance and how a new generation that cares about equality in the region is fighting to see it happen.
"Whether it be ISIS or a culture of misogyny in the film industry, we are seeing how a strong female-led resistance can defeat even the most daunting opponent. ISIS is losing ground and the female fighters of the YPJ are a big reason why – and Fear Us Women stands as a testimony to their sacrifice and victory," he says, before adding, "This story offers a glimpse of hope for a region so often written off as hopeless. The female fighters of the YPJ are fighting for women’s rights and true democracy in the Middle East. This film shows there are young people so passionate about reform and equality that they are willing to lay down their life to see it happen."