Sunday 17 November 2019

'Handmaid's Tale' cast hits reality with real stories of sexual violence

Ann Dowd and Elizabeth Moss as Aunt Lydia and Offred in The Handmaid's Tale
Ann Dowd and Elizabeth Moss as Aunt Lydia and Offred in The Handmaid's Tale

Ellen Wulfhorst

The cast of "The Handmaid's Tale" joined forces with a women's rights group on Wednesday to tell real-life stories that eerily resemble the top-rating television series to promote equality for women and girls.

In a two-minute film launched by Equality Now, the show's cast and others share the words of women and girls describing scenarios of sexual violence, sex trafficking and female genital mutilation.

"This is not fiction. This is not 'The Handmaid's Tale,'" the film says.

"The Handmaid's Tale," based on a 1985 novel by Canadian author Margaret Atwood, imagines a totalitarian future when fertile women are forced into sexual servitude to repopulate a world facing environmental disaster.

Equality Now, with bases in New York, London and Nairobi,is a non-government organisation that says it wants to use the law to protect women's rights and end such practices as trafficking, sexual violence and child marriage.

"It was a natural partnership," Yasmeen Hassan, global executive director of Equality Now, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

"This is Margaret Atwood's so-called fiction but it's really not. It's a fiction that closer to reality than most people think ... We have cases on all the issues that are shown in 'The Handmaid's Tale' in real time."

Stories in the Equality Now film came from women in Sierra Leone, Britain, Tanzania, Jordan, Bolivia and the United States, the group said.

"After female genital mutilation, they give you a new dress. The color cloth you wear goes from purple to red," said one account in the film.

In the TV series and novel, the fertile handmaids in servitude wear red, and the infertile wives wear blue

"The men knew I was a child, but they didn't care. They bought me anyway," said another account.

The short film was being promoted on social media, including Facebook, and brought in more than 700 new members on its first day, Equality Now said.

The Emmy Award-winning TV series appears on the Hulu streaming service. Actors on the show who appear in the Equality Now film include Joseph Fiennes, Samira Wiley and Ann Dowd.


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