'Game of Thrones' rape scene prompts star to shed light on sexual violence

by Lin Taylor | @linnytayls | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Wednesday, 8 March 2017 09:00 GMT

Actress Sophie Turner attends the premiere for the sixth season of HBO's "Game of Thrones" in Los Angeles April 10, 2016. REUTERS/Phil McCarten

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Game of Thrones actress Sophie Turner says backlash over rape scene spurred her to campaign against gender violence.

By Lin Taylor

LONDON, March 8 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - When "Game of Thrones" fans blasted a scene involving the brutal rape of Sansa Stark by her sadistic husband on their wedding night, Sophie Turner, who plays the TV show's popular character, was shocked.

In an exclusive blog for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the 21-year-old British actress, who has starred in the Emmy award-winning medieval fantasy series since it premiered in 2011, said outraged viewers had missed the point.

"I was angry that there is such a taboo surrounding rape and that depicting it on screen was seen as vulgar," she wrote.

"Sexual violence happens every day all around the world and yet for that to be represented on television ... was considered disgusting instead of important."

Turner said the response to the episode which aired in 2015 made her determined to highlight gender violence, which affects one in three women worldwide, according to the United Nations.

As the new patron of charity Women for Women International, Turner travelled to Rwanda to meet female survivors of the 1994 genocide, in which tens of thousands of women were raped and 800,000 people killed.

Turner said meeting the women in the central African country, and learning how they were rebuilding their lives through business training and support groups, was an "eye-opening experience".

"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," she wrote.

"The women I met in Rwanda have inspired me in so many ways. They've shown me that no matter how bad a person's situation can be, whether financially, emotionally, sometimes even physically, it is possible to heal."

(Reporting by Lin Taylor @linnytayls, Editing by Katie Nguyen; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters that covers humanitarian issues, conflicts, global land and property rights, modern slavery and human trafficking, women's rights, climate change and resilience. Visit http://news.trust.org to see more stories)