Question from the Audience
I had a quick question. Stated, I think, in one of the statistics was that 58 percent of the girls had confronted one of the parents. Did you interview any other parents of these victims and, if so, were the responses of the parents different based on their religion or the area that they are from? Whether they were from Sri Lanka, India or other areas?
Five people whom I knew were relatives. They may not have been parents. One was a grandmother, one was a brother and one was an aunt of the survivors. Not necessarily just those you saw in the video. They did not want to appear in the video. That is my personal frustration with the documentary. I felt it would have been more powerful to have family members talk about what they would have done if they had known then. What hindsight they could offer, what do they know now, what they would have done differently. Why did they not intervene? It would have been very powerful to have their voices as well, particularly because I want this video to be used as a way to get people to act and to get those women who are survivors to see themselves as interventionists and not as victims--potential future interventionists. Rather than having the survivors indicate that we need intervention, it would have been powerful for parents to speak--one parent speaking to another person. But they would not speak even though their daughters were in the video. They were concerned. They had put the past behind them. They did not want to dig up the past. Some of them had formed very good relationships with the perpetrator and those related to the perpetrator--meaning, they had a great relationship with the perpetrator's wife. That’s a thing with incestuous sexual abuse, because you are talking about perpetrators who are related to you and you don’t want to implicate everybody, which is also the challenge for the survivor. Sometimes it seems you are punishing the family. Those people who did not do something to you and then some of the children of the perpetrators have grown up with those who were victimized and they see the parent as their sort of surrogate parent. So there are several reasons why they did not want to participate in the video, so that’s frustrating.
Question from the Audience
I work at ECPAT (End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography, and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes), which is an international NGO that works to end the commercial sexual exploitation of children. So I have seen a number of video tapes that were about traffic girls. It's extremely moving. It’s extremely sad. There are excellent films addressing this very bad problem. What I really want to know and what I really want to see from you is how come nobody does videotapes about men, mostly, who do this? I really want to see their faces and have them say why they do this. I think it will be just as empowering for victims to have that side revealed. You never see their faces. I think nobody has done that yet and when do you think you are going to do it?
I don’t want to make that film. You know one of the difficulties of making this film was that we had to really keep in check our anger. I did not want to sleep with my husband for six weeks after working on this project. You start getting angry at all men. You know this greed, this lust. Of course, that is a very simplistic response to it but was very much part of the equation, the emotional equation of working on this and so I had trouble just being in Thailand, spending a lot of time in Thailand, because a couple of months ago I was in Bangkok and this film screened in Bangkok. It was strange to have this audience full of Thais and Thai men and thinking “Am I implicating all these men?” Oddly enough, there was a very strong reaction from the audience, almost as if they were understanding this and seeing this for the first time, which is very strange because this is so much part of peoples' lives. Anyway, I would have a real hard time making that film.
When I first began taking the video around at the beginning of this year, I was asked this question many times and at first I said, vehemently, what Ellen said. I don’t want to make a video about perpetrators because I might hurt them, because of the stupid things they say and I have to be very calm and objective and all of that. But what I have done is that I have had male-only screenings. I try to have male-only screenings because I want to understand some things and I think it is important for men to be in men-only screenings where they talk to each other. What has come out of these male-only screenings with South Asian men are some very interesting observations and questions that they need answers for. When presented to women, the women erupt. For example, how do we tell when the line between abuse and affection is crossed? How do you really know? Now, whenever that is asked in a room full of people, they really erupt. Their response is: “What do you mean? We know.” There are men who don’t know. Unfortunately there are more men than less, I think. Over the last several months, I have found out that there are certain things about male sexuality and about the construction of masculinity that may actually be contributing to fact that, predominantly, it is men that actually abuse children. Predominantly, it is heterosexual men who periodically abuse both boys and girls. So, now I am open to it--oh, God--Open to the idea of actually making a documentary about perpetrators of this kind of an abuse. I did not want perpetrators in this video. I did not want to provide them with a forum. I felt everybody who spoke could, through their story and their analysis, clearly explain and put out the information as to what is to be done. This was a video that, more than anything else, was meant to empower survivors and I did not want perpetrators to have a say in the video.