Port Vila, Vanuatu. Mat Mo Pig (literally mat and pig), the new film production of Wan Smolbag Theatre - a Spotlight Grantee - is giving voice to the story of a survivor of rape, and her experience in enduring the traumatizing legal process and trials while facing the court and her aggressors.

One of the most de-humanizing experience for any woman survivor of rape is having to stand in from of the court and in front of her agressors to prove she was raped. In many countries, the notion “everyone is innocent until proven guilty in court” puts the burden of proof on survivors of rape, adding layers of stress, humiliation, guilt, shame and trauma to survivors of rape who maybe seeking justice in court, while struggling the slow and painful path towards post-traumatic recovery.

“In some countries, the burden of proof is on the accused who has to prove his innocence rather than the other way round. That is a step forward.” Jo Dorras, film writer

Why must a rape survivor prove in court that they were raped and what does it say about a society that  puts the burden of proof on survivors? These are some of the  questions that Spotlight Grantee Wan Smolbag Theatre is posing to policy-makers and society in Vanuatu through their film Mat Mo Pig.

Mat Mo Pig film writer Jo Dorras, revealed that the film was inspired by true events affecting her family. Jo attended court hearings and trials, and witnessed first-hand the effect they had on survivors who re-lived trauma as they came face to face with their aggressors.
Ms Dorras highlighted that in Vanuatu, with the current law, rape survivors were made to prove they were sexually assaulted, rather than the other way around.
“In some countries, the burden of proof is on the accused who has to prove his innocence rather than the other way round. That is a step forward. We hope that through this film we will be able to change how the prosecution is done and to change perceptions towards victims,” she said.

“A single film cannot address the entire complexity of patriarchy or customary laws, but we need to start looking at the way men and boys are raised and constantly excused while women are constantly blamed.” Jo Dorras, film writer

Mat Mo Pig, is the first film by Wan Smolbag to explore the process of bringing a rape case to court and the experience of the survivor who has to face her perpetrators, and has to listen to their stroeis and denial of guilt in court, traumatizing the victim even further.
According to the 2011 Vanuatu National Survey on Women’s Lives and Family Relationships, 60 per cent of women have experienced physical or sexual abuse at some point in their lives, while 58 per cent have experienced both physical and sexual abuse.
Ms Dorras said she hopes the film will trigger conversations about the severity of violence against women and girls, and how legal services who supposedly are there to protect survivors, risk to drive them instead to the edge. 

To watch the trailer: