PORT VILA, Vanuatu - 'Mat Mo Pig' (literally mat and pig), the new film production from Spotlight Initiative grantee Wan Smolbag Theatre, is giving voice to rape survivors by exploring their traumatic experience of the legal process and facing their aggressors in court.
One of the most de-humanizing experiences for any survivor of rape is having to stand in front of a court and prove that they were raped. In many countries, the notion that everyone is "innocent until proven guilty in court” puts the burden of proof on survivors, creating stress, humiliation, guilt and shame for those seeking justice and struggling to recover from trauma.
“We hope that through this film we will be able to change how prosecution is done and change perceptions towards victims” - Jo Dorras, Film Writer
Why must a rape survivor prove in court that they were raped and what does it say about a society when it re-traumatizes survivors through the legal process? These are some of the questions that 'Mat Mo Pig' poses to policy-makers and viewers in Vanuatu.
The film's writer, Jo Dorras revealed that she was inspired by true events affecting her own family. Ms. Dorras attended court hearings and trials, witnessing first-hand the effect they had on survivors who re-lived trauma as they came face to face with their aggressors.
“We hope that through this film we will be able to change how 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.”
"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 a rape survivor facing her attackers.
The film highlights an issue that is far too common.
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 that are there to protect survivors risk victimizing them further.