New ideas…

This is my first blog post in a ridiculously long time, so I feel quite sheepish in writing it. I’ve been thinking long and hard about how exactly to carry out the pledge I made last summer: to do my bit in the fight against sexual abuse against women, both in Egypt and around the world. Noble intentions, yes – but some serious planning and refinement of those ambitions is needed to really make that happen.

I hugely enjoyed helping Unreported World with the production of their 20-minute documentary, ‘Egypt: Sex, Mobs, and Revolution’ broadcast in November on Channel 4. As for my own documentary, I’m in regular contact with the producer who I’ll be working with, and progress is indeed being made. As I outlined some months ago, getting it funded, commissioned, and fitting it all in around the producer’s incredibly busy schedule will take time. But it will happen!

Anyway, whilst working on new TV projects has given me invaluable experience, I’m itching to do more for womankind. Particularly after being inspired by coverage of a new documentary, “Brave Miss World” – please DO look it up.

I, along with billions of people worldwide, was deeply shaken and disturbed by the horrific Delhi gang-rape case (and the more recent devastating rape and murder of 3 Indian sisters). My instinct was to blog about it. But then I thought…what can I say? What can I possibly write in a blog post that billions of people around the world aren’t already saying? I started to focus more on what I could do.

I’ve been thinking long and hard about what exactly to do. Sexual violence against women is such a truly global phenomenon that it’s difficult to highlight its occurrence in one part of the world without appearing to neglect all those women suffering in the Congo, in Syria, in Pakistan, in America, in France, in the UK…and in every country on Earth.

So, do I make a documentary on every country in the world? Do I gradually work my way through a list of misogynistic global hotspots? And, standing next to the plethora of existing NGOs and charitable organisations designed to fight the sexual abuse of women, what can I bring to the table?

I’ll stop with the (possibly irritating) rhetorical questions now and cut to the chase. As a British young woman, I’ve decided to hit home with this global problem. I want to develop my own documentary that will resonate with young men and women growing up in the UK. I want a UK audience to see that sexual violence and discrimination against women is as relevant at home as it is abroad – just in different ways.

So, my aim is to highlight to a UK audience that sexual abuse is not confined to far-flung countries like India, Syria, or Egypt; nor is it confined to the Jimmy Savile era, the horrors of which are, disgracefully, only now being brought to light; nor is it confined to abuses carried out by priests in the Catholic Church. Sexual abuse plagues the younger generation of Brits in a far quieter, subtler, yet equally deplorable way.

Needless to say, we all know that rape occurs in the UK – it affects nearly 70,000 women every year. But I really don’t think we’re open enough about it. To a degree, I don’t think young men necessarily realise that rape jokes might not count as “banter”, and I don’t think young women necessarily realise that they have a right not to laugh at them without being branded that most unfashionable of things: a “feminist”. I could go on to talk about the widely-discussed controversy over telling women “don’t get raped” rather than telling men not to rape, and the pervasive “blame the victim” culture, but I feel these points have been very widely discussed already on the internet (and I may end up ranting for hours).

I must, though, express my admiration for the Home Office’s anti-rape ad campaign. But what concerns me are the general attitudes of young men and women – towards rape and who is to be held responsible – that necessitate such an ad campaign.

Telling women how they should dress and behave to avoid rape – note Tory MP Richard Graham and Joanna Lumley’s blunderous comments – only serve to further inflame this debate.

To round up, I don’t want to give too much away, and it’s very early days for this project. I’m putting out feelers to see how this documentary could work, so please do get in touch with any feedback or further ideas.

Thanks for reading this delayed and horrendously long post!

14 thoughts on “New ideas…

  1. Hello, Natasha. I’ve been following your posts since your Egypt experience (absolutely appalling), and continue to be interested in you and your work. I agree with Jeremy’s post – focus on men’s attitudes towards rape/sexual assaults. Rape is the ultimate degradation towards women, but even sexual assaults (copping a feel in a crowded bus-happened to me in Greece) is degrading and violating. These men don’t respect women; they think women are beneath them and are something to use or be of use to them. What makes them different from other men who aren’t of that mindset, and would never consider abusing women? It has to be in their upbringing and their experiences, I think. Obviously, we want to see attitudes like Jorn’s (above post), so that tells me his upbringing and experiences are positive towards women. Not only do men need good role models in fathers/uncles while growing up, they also need good role models is mothers/aunts (women who stand up for themselves/others). Good luck with planning your documentary…looking forward to viewing it.

  2. Hi Tash, your post sets the cogs whirring, and similarly I could go off on one for hours, but…
    I think in the most general way it would be useful to focus solely on men’s attitudes towards rape, and steer completely away from the obvious areas of blaming victims and advice on reducing risk for females, and from the controversy that such views attract. Don’t inflame debate. There is no real debate. Rape is wrong. I agree the Home Office ad campaign does this direct approach well. Thinking maybe you could interview some convicted rapists. Not all of them are psychotic, and many I’m sure know they did something really stupid and have deep remorse. Just a thought.

    • Hi Jeremy, great to hear your thoughts. You make some very important observations – particularly about the need to avoid becoming embroiled in the “blame the victim” stand-off. Very daring but potentially fascinating idea about interviewing a convicted rapist. Obviously there would be a LOT of legal and compliance issues to contend with in making that happen. But it could potentially bring a whole different level of insight to the doc – a way of tackling the subject head on and asking some very challenging questions. I’d love to chat more to you about this actually, given your legal and human rights expertise. Let me know if you’re interested 🙂

  3. Man here from OC, Ca, USA. Agree 1000%! It is very easy…convince men that every women is a human being…equal to all others, that she is a beloved daughter, a sister that was always there for you, a wife of the luckiest man in the world, a mother who raised her children with loving care & instructional forethought, a daddys little girl no matter how old she is, an aunt who mentored you, a cousin who always stuck up for you, the woman who created the Red Cross, the woman who invented bullet proof vests, the Dr. who saved your loved ones life, or the woman you are in love with & makes you not just want to be a better man but actually inspires you to do so…..she could be any of those things or some other great part of your life! Respect all women as they were one of the women I described & you will find happiness, & joy, & 1 day a woman will cross paths with your lifelife & make you the husband & father you always wanted to be….Respect, Respect, Respect. This man knows God is a man…because he blessed this earth with its most beautiful & caring creature—Women, in all shapes, colors, forms, & mindsets…We men are blessed for having the opportunity to have women (platonic or romantic) in our lives! Think of these things before you act towards women. The world would be a better place! 😀 Jorn S. Henderson

    • What a beautiful world view. Thank you for showing your appreciation for womankind! It’s refreshing to see a man celebrate the qualities that characterise women – particularly in a world where masculine characteristics (assertiveness, logistical thinking) are still generally perceived to be more useful and desirable than feminine qualities (empathy, insight, communication). This is broadly speaking – I appreciate that both genders exhibit all of the above qualities to varying degrees. True gender equality is going to take a very long time to achieve – who knows how long. But I love to think that one day, men and women won’t compete; they’ll just accept that each gender has an equally important role to play in maintaining life and civilisation on Earth, and a lot to learn from each other.

      • Some are already there ( thankfully!). It will take generations howerver ( unfortunately ) to achieve such simple enlightenment. I have been in wars on many continents. This issue is present everwhere! Even the “goodguys” practice deplorable behavior. Some were simply shot, some gots medals. It is a war unto itself. Love , Hate, & fear are the greatest motivates in life. Hate & Fear being the greatest (trust me). Play to having the world hate such perpetrators & then they will fear their own actions. It is a horrible option I know….but the fastest & swiftness counts in a war. Hopefully the battle will be waged sooner than later. We r talking about 52% of the global population…it must & will happen…how u fight is up to you! I choose speed and suprise. Goodluck. All evil needs to triumph is for good men to do nothing….I urge u all to do something!

  4. Hello, I was wondering at what stage you were with you projects and here comes this post to answer my questions. This is a documentary I would be very interested in watching. Good luck with the organisation and keep writing about further developments!

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