By Ila Ananya
We’ve previously written about the gross stock images the media usually uses to report news about rape. There’s usually a woman cowering in the corner, the men looming larger than life over them. We know these images are extremely problematic, but how do we then show sexual abuse in various forms of media, whether in articles, plays, or movies?
Yangoon Film School created three short documentary animations based on the testimonies of women who had survived sexual violence and abuse in Myanmar. These very tender and seemingly cautious animations do show one way of depicting and opening conversations about gender violence.
In each of the three videos that are hardly more than a minute long, we hear the women talking. They tell stories different stories — of online abuse, and how a man they broke up with started posting intimate photos of them online, of how they were raped by a man who followed them home when they were walking back from work, and domestic abuse. Their voices are accompanied by simple animated sketches: they seem to be drawn with close attention to detail, to how the woman narrating her story sat, tapping at the coffee mug she was holding in one, occasionally using ‘real’ images rather than sketches that make the stories even more horrifyingly real.
Here we see the woman talking about domestic abuse. She is petting her cat as she narrates her story. The cat is with her in every frame, even in those showing abuse with a glass being shattered on the wall—in those, the cat jumps over the scattered glass. The woman is almost always moving.
This is the story of a woman who faced online abuse when she broke up with her boyfriend. We hear the all too familiar questions—the police asking her what else she expected when she took pictures like that. “I don’t think it’s got anything to do with love. He just can’t take being dumped by a woman,” she says.
Here the woman talks about being raped by a man who followed her home when she was returning from work. “I crossed my legs,” she says, and people around her begin to whisper—“How come you didn’t call for help?” they ask.