Lately we have been hearing a lot of reports about rape victims coming out and speaking out about what happened to them at various campuses around South Africa and the more woman speak out and share their stories, the more we find that woman who have been living with the trauma of being raped coming out and talking about it. It is not easy for a rape victim to talk about what happened to them, but I find that if they are shown that it’s safe for them to share their stories and if they are made aware that no matter what the circumstances were, rape is never the victims fault!
I had a chat with award-winning film maker and writer Uga Carlini about the story of Alison Botha a remarkable woman who against all odds fought for her life after being raped, her necked slashed more than 17 times, stabbed in the stomach over 37 times, disembowelled and dumped on the outskirts of a nature reserve to die. But Alison survived, despite everything she went through that night.
Uga says that when she first heard Alison speak about what happened to her that night she knew that she had to make a movie about the strength that Alison had not only that night but every day since the attack. By telling this story she hopes to give other victims the courage to speak out and take back their power.
Q: What is the best thing about making movies?
U: Telling stories about heroines. There aren’t really a lot of stories about heroines out there and for me they are truly inspiring. I’ve always done it, kind of by default, and when I realised that I was doing it, I branded it. So my company and I specialise in female driven heroine stories.
Q: Tell us a little about the story of Alison
U: Initially it’s a tough story because of the attack and because you realise what humans can do to each other. They raped, stabbed, disembowelled her and did everything they could to break her. Although all these things were done to her, that’s not what the story is about. It’s about how one woman took what happened to her and turned it into something so much bigger, something that can inspire, something that has given other victims a sense of hope and meaning. It’s incredible! No one is trying to diminish what was done to her, but the point is that she survived it.
“People made a choice that night to help a perfect stranger”
Q: How does the story of Alison differ from other projects you have worked on?
U: Alison is my first feature length project. I’ve done short films in the past. I was an actress before that, travelling the world. So it’s important because it’s my first.
Q: If you had a superhero name what would it be?
U: Uhm… Oh no… What would it be?
Q: Favourite South African movie?
U: Well I’ve got quite a few. I can’t really decide.
Q: Favourite way to start a conversation with a stranger?
U: Where did you get that chocolate?
Q: If you had a brainwashing machine, would you use it?
U: Hell Yes!
Q: What strange thing have you eaten?
U: I don’t eat strange things.
Q: What is the opposite of opposite?
Q: Do you believe in ghosts?
“I care about the women of this country” says Uga. “One out of every three women in South Africa has been raped, every 26 seconds a woman gets raped and most of them don’t have the courage that Alison had to necessarily speak out about it.”
Alison was the first South African woman to publically speak about being raped. It’s a story of overcoming even the worst situations and it gives hope to victims of rape. Too many women are victims of the “rape culture” in our country. It’s important that women know that you don’t have to speak out if you don’t want to, but it’s more important for them to know that we care, in solidarity, we care!