The reaction to Game of Thrones' controversial rape scene of Sansa Stark fundamentally changed the actress who plays her, Sophie Turner, according to the actress herself. In an essay for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, Turner revealed that initially viewer outrage shocked and angered her. "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?"
Then Turner realized that te fact that an important dialogue was created because of Game of Thrones' scene was actually very exciting. It lit a fire within her to continue it. "Unless we continually keep broadcasting people's stories of sexual violence, then how else are people going to respond?" she wrote. "This is what made me want to get involved, and that's when I came across Women for Women International, and how I ended up visiting their programme in Rwanda where women are still dealing with the aftermath of the 1994 genocide when over 1 million people were killed and the UN estimates that up to 500,000 women were systemically raped during the 100 days of violence."
"What made me want to work with Women for Women International was the plan that they have in place for women survivors of sexual violence and war. They not only set out to raise money to help women support themselves financially, but they provide a year-long training programme to teach women business and life skills that will help them to rebuild their lives, helping them not just to survive, but to thrive."
Turner's visit to Rwanda was "eye-opening," she added. "In a time where it seems a lot of focus is being placed upon domestic issues and concerns, it's important that we draw some attention to the people who aren't able to publicise the horrors that are occurring or have occurred in their own countries. It made me look outside myself."
She ended her essay with what she plans to do next, as patron: "I'm going help raise awareness of the work of Women for Women International, share the stories of the women they serve, and the issues women and girls face globally. Ultimately, I hope to help them build their network and raise much needed funds to help more women survivors of war."
Turner shared more of her trip on YouTube:
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