For a stretch of time in 2015, pretty much all of the talk surrounding HBO’s Game Of Thrones was the show’s continued reliance on using rape scenes to shock or horrify the audience. Most of the discussion stemmed from one scene in particular, which involved Sophie Turner’s Sansa Stark being raped by Iwan Rheon’s Ramsay Bolton after being forced to marry him. At the time, Turner actually said she “kinda loved” the scene because it was “all so messed up,” and she knew it was an important turning point for her character’s eventual transition into a cool badass.
Interestingly, though, it seems like the decidedly negative response to that scene did open Turner’s eyes to the way fictional TV rape is treated in modern society. As reported by Uproxx, Turner has now joined a nonprofit organization called Women For Women International that is dedicated to “financial, educational, and interpersonal support” for women who are “survivors of war, poverty, and injustice.” She has also written an essay for the Thomson Reuters Foundation in which she explains that she got involved with the organization because there was such a “taboo” surrounding the depiction of rape in fiction:
At first I was angry. I was angry that there is such a taboo surrounding rape and that depicting it on screen was seen as vulgar. Sexual violence happens every day all around the world and yet for that to be represented on television, when other forms of violence are so often represented and more importantly, accepted and even welcomed in some cases, was considered disgusting instead of important. It made me think: why such a taboo?
She then turned her anger into excitement, recognizing that this was a jumping-off point to engage with people about how rape happens in the real world all the time, and if people are so eager to denounce it on television, they should be equally ready to denounce it in real life. So, she joined up with Women For Women and traveled to Rwanda to learn about how the country is still recovering from its 1994 genocide, and she shares a few stories from the women she met on that trip in her essay.
Turner says these women have shown her that “no matter how bad a person’s situation can be,” it is possible to get their life “back on track” through “perseverance and the power of teaching and friendship.”
You can find more information about Women For Women International at this link.