Stu­dent’s film to tackle rape cul­ture

The Dominion Post - - Capitalday - CHELSEA MCLAUGH­LIN

A Welling­ton High School stu­dent is go­ing above and be­yond to try to erase rape cul­ture in the city.

Year 13 stu­dent Stella Atkin­son has been in­spired by re­cent in­ci­dents sur­round­ing the post­ing of sex­ist com­ments by Welling­ton Col­lege stu­dents on a Face­book page.

Now she’s work­ing on a short doc­u­men­tary about rape cul­ture in Welling­ton to in­form peo­ple of the is­sues around con­sent.

‘‘My in­ten­tion is to ed­u­cate peo­ple on rape cul­ture and con­sent be­cause, af­ter the com­ments that were made, it was very clear that some peo­ple were lacking in ed­u­ca­tion re­gard­ing the topic.’’

Atkin­son is re­quired to make a film for as­sess­ment later in the year as part of her school’s Mov­ing Im­age Cul­ture (Me­dia Stud­ies) class. But this doc­u­men­tary was born out of pas­sion and not school re­quire­ments, she says.

She was in­volved in a rape cul­ture protest at Par­lia­ment ear­lier this month and be­lieves re­cent me­dia at­ten­tion on the is­sue has helped open the eyes of many.

‘‘Since the com­ments were made, I re­alised how many of these com­ments are ac­tu­ally made and pushed un­der the table. By shar­ing in­for­ma­tion on the com­ments, peo­ple just woke up and saw that there were lots of is­sues.’’

Her doc­u­men­tary will in­clude in­ter­views with protest or­gan­is­ers, aca­demics from Victoria Univer­sity’s so­ci­ol­ogy and so­cial poli­cies de­part­ments, Welling­ton High School staff and pos­si­bly sound bites from av­er­age Ki­wis on the street.

Welling­ton Rape Cri­sis (WRC) agency man­ager Kyla Rayner says Atkin­son’s project will ‘‘ab­so­lutely’’ raise aware­ness of rape cul­ture, sex­ual vi­o­lence and abuse.

‘‘It’s im­per­a­tive that we start talk­ing about these is­sues and all con­sider ways that we can be part of the solutions,’’ she says.

‘‘Projects like these are also in­cred­i­bly im­por­tant to sur­vivors. They reaf­firm that this is real, they de­bunk com­mon harm­ful rape myths that blame sur­vivors, and en­cour­age sur­vivors to reach out for sup­port and heal­ing.’’

Rayner says ini­tia­tives such as Atkin­son’s give WRC staff hope, heart­en­ing them to con­tinue with the agency’s day-to-day ser­vices.

‘‘When we see youth en­gag­ing with this in­cred­i­bly hard is­sue and de­mand­ing and feel­ing en­ti­tled to safety and well­be­ing, we know that we are ab­so­lutely mak­ing in­roads in the work we are com­mit­ted to.’’

PHOTO: KEVIN STENT/FAIRFAX NZ

Stella Atkin­son, a Welling­ton High School year 13 stu­dent, has been in­spired to make a doc­u­men­tary about rape cul­ture in Welling­ton.

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