Thursday, 14 January 2010

Sexual violence, trafficking and rape

I have just watched some of Stag Weekends: the Dirty Secrets and if you didn't catch it I recommend watching it on BBC iPlayer. I thought Simon Boazman, the journalist investigating did a really good job - he remained calm, compassionate and clear, as well as fantastically human - as he interviewed a range of people including a woman who had been trafficked and forced into the sex trade, and a pimp. Uncomfortable viewing, but not something any of us can afford to stick our heads in the sand about.

The challenge for many of us is recognising this goes on, and not thinking about exploitation and trafficking as something that happens to others. Sexual exploitation is real in the UK. Each year far too many girls and boys are sexually exploited and forced into prostitution. Today Brook ran a training course for professionals called TEASE - telling everyone about sexual exploitation - based on the brilliant work done by Brook in Blackburn to address sexual exploitation.

Several years ago, Barnardos produced a pack for working with young people about sexual exploitation called 'things we don't talk about'. Today on the tube I noticed a new campaign from the NHS The Havens about rape. The advert pictures a young woman wearing a t-shirt saying wake up to rape and then the text - Michelle tells her friends everything, but explaining to them that she was raped isn't something she feels comfortable about.

For far too long, we have stuck our collective head in the sand about sexual violence. Thankfully programmes like this, done well, start the conversations.


Artworks: Sculptor said...

I just finished watching this programme and agree with your view of the reporter Simon Boazman.

He did a great job.

However, I am sickened by the stags in this documentary that knowingly continued to go to brothels after admitting that there was a good chance that some of the girls were forced. They condoned their actions with the excitement of "getting away with what they couldn't do at home" and "it happens and there was nothing they could do about it" as in that's life!

I wonder if they would have said the same if one of the girls was their sister, mother, daughter or wife.

What new levels of depravity these men have sank to for a quick shag! or a bit of something more outrageous than their girlfriends/wife would allow.

I feel sickened, extremely angry at the attitude of these men - shame on them!

I would've loved Simon to ask them how they would've felt if one of the girls was someone they cared about would they still think it was okay.

Simon Blake said...

I agree it would be interesting to know how they would have responded if it was someone they cared about.

Of course, it would also have been interesting to interview the same men when they were on their own, had not had a drink, back at home in England. The public attitudes so often conflict with the private feelings and thoughts, and that is particularly true if they are in a group.

That is of course not to condone, or excuse. There is no justification for force or coercion. It must not be just a fact of life. But we must understand the root causes, the motivations and how these attitudes are developed or displayed in order to make a change.

And that is why in some countries including Sweden they decided to put gender onto the school curriculum - violence in relationships was a real concern and they took steps to address that in public policy.

Coercion, force, exploitation and rape, are all too often brushed under the carpet. As I said in my original post and you reinforce this, the programme was not easy viewing, but it is essential to bring this into the public arena if we are going to see any change.

Anonymous said...

great ...........................................................