With new documentary, former Miss World from Israel becomes global champion for rape victims

In the photo Tuesday, March 18, 2014, former Miss World Linor Abargil poses with her four-month-old daughter at her home in Netanya, Israel. AP Photo/Aron Heller

ARON HELLER
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

NETANYA, Israel — When 18-year-old Israeli beauty queen Linor Abargil was crowned Miss World in 1998, the tears streaming down her cheeks appeared to be the overwhelming joy of a young woman fulfilling a childhood dream. Few knew the painful truth behind them — that just six weeks earlier she had been raped at knifepoint.

Unlike most victims of sexual assault, Abargil refused to keep quiet. She pressed charges, spoke out publicly and testified at a trial that sent her attacker to prison for 16 years. Her ordeal inspired other Israeli women to break their own silence and in the process, she became a national symbol who helped destigmatize rape in the country.

Today, the 34-year-old mother of three’s crusade against sexual violence is going global, thanks to an international speaking tour and new documentary, “Brave Miss World,” in which she details her ordeal and speaks to dozens of other victims, many of whom shared their tales of terror for the first time.

“If you go through something very bad or very hard, the only pill you can take is to tell, to take it out of your system. Because if you don’t, it is like a tumour — it becomes bigger and bigger until it kills you,” she told The Associated Press this week, shortly after returning from a visit to India. “I feel that I have this privilege to really help other women to open up.”

In “Brave Miss World,” director Cecilia Peck chronicles Abargil’s journey from teenage rape victim to outspoken lawyer and activist and finally to wife and mother who discovered a newfound comfort in her Jewish faith. Interviews with her parents, her husband and even a former boyfriend shed light on how the rape altered her life but also how her strength helped transform her into an unlikely ambassador.

In the documentary, shot over four years, Abargil listens to the stories of rape victims ranging from American college students to young South African girls to Hollywood celebrities like Fran Drescher and Joan Collins — who disclosed for the first time that she married the man who raped her.

“There is something about Linor that gives credibility to rape survivors. They know that they will be believed, it helps relieve that burden of shame,” said Peck, whose previous work includes “Shut Up and Sing,” a documentary about the U.S. country singers the Dixie Chicks.

Peck, daughter of legendary actor Gregory Peck, said the film’s name was a subtle allusion to Aldous Huxley’s famous novel “Brave New World,” in which the government tried to control even citizens’ sex lives.

According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, America’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, one out of six American women has been the victim of rape or an attempted rape, with 60 per cent of them unreported to police. The figures are similar in Israel and other Western nations and far higher in the developing world.

Peck said the film’s website has become a focal point for victims to speak out. More than 300,000 people already have visited the site, with many writing about the abuse they experienced. Hundreds of emails arrive each day, she said.

Abargil said she was drawn to the project since she was not the type of person to just seek “justice for myself and then walk away.” Rather, she felt that as a public figure she had a responsibility to break the taboo around rape and give other women the courage to talk about it.

Pages: 1 2

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,



Readers Comments (0)

Comments are closed.

Featured

Pakistan-U.S.

U.S. teen pilot seeking record for around-the-world flight dies in ocean crash, Pakistan-born father missing

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS INDIANAPOLIS — A U.S. teenager who was attempting to set a record for an around-the-world flight was killed when his plane crashed…
Continue Reading »

Surrey-weight lifter-Commonwealth Games-Glasgow

Surrey weightlifter Parm Phangura bound for Commonwealth Games

MICHAEL BOOTH SURREY NOW FLEETWOOD — 163+205=368. That stark equation scrawled in the top corner of a chalkboard means little to a casual observer, but…
Continue Reading »

British Columbia

Ferocious tyrannosaurs might have roamed in packs, newly discovered B.C. footprints suggest

THE CANADIAN PRESS VANCOUVER — Fossilized footprints uncovered in northeastern British Columbia suggest the ferocious tyrannosaurs that ruled the Earth 70 million years ago just…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

Surrey-weight lifter-Commonwealth Games-Glasgow

Surrey weightlifter Parm Phangura bound for Commonwealth Games

MICHAEL BOOTH SURREY NOW FLEETWOOD — 163+205=368. That stark equation scrawled in the top corner of a chalkboard means little to a casual observer, but…
Continue Reading »

BC man charged in Syria terrorism

Burnaby man accused of joining Islamist fighters in Syria (w/video)

DOUGLAS QUAN AND TIFFANY CRAWFORD POSTMEDIA NEWS A British Columbia man accused of taking up arms in Syria has become the first person to be…
Continue Reading »

Surrey-Gurdwara president-wife

Funeral set for wife of former Surrey Sikh temple president who died after alleged domestic assault

LARISSA CAHUTE VANCOUVER DESI The funeral for Surrey wife and mother Narinder Singh Kalsi, who died in hospital after an alleged domestic-related incident, will take…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

Greece

Tipsy British tourist asked to leave church after mistaking it for a disco

CEN AGENCY A tipsy British tourist had to be asked to leave a church in Crete where he started dancing after local kids told him…
Continue Reading »

BC Sikhs

Frustrated Port of Metro Vancouver truckers want government to push companies to comply with action plan

THE CANADIAN PRESS VANCOUVER — Drivers servicing the country’s largest port urged government on Monday to take swift action against trucking companies, which they say…
Continue Reading »

Rashida Samji

B.C. Securities Commission finds Vancouver woman who ran a Ponzi scheme committed $100 million fraud

ALMAS MEHERALLY VANCOUVER DESI VANCOUVER – A B.C. Securities Commission panel has found that a Vancouver woman and two companies she controlled committed a $100-million fraud….
Continue Reading »

Canada-Edmonton-stolen

Canada balks at returning Indian statue of a woman believed stolen from Khajuraho temple

DOUGLAS QUAN POSTMEDIA NEWS  India is trying to repatriate a “voluptuous” 12th-century statue of a woman with a parrot on her bare shoulder that somehow…
Continue Reading »

delays-problems-transit

TransLink says human error caused SkyTrain meltdown Monday

The SkyTrain power outage that stranded thousands of commuters Monday afternoon was caused by human error, according to TransLink. An experienced electrician was installing a…
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

Slam! The Tour  poster Horizdesi

Shah Rukh Khan, Deepika Padukone gear up for Bollywood extravaganzas in Vancouver, Toronto and the U.S.

IANS New Delhi – Superstar Shah Rukh Khan is ready to shake a leg with his fans in the US after a gap of 10…
Continue Reading »

Actress Alia Bhatt attends the Highway premiere during 64th Berlinale International Film Festival at Zoo Palast on February 13, 2014 in Berlin, Germany.Clemens Bilan/Getty Images

Alia Bhatt feels she’s too young to team up with Bollywood’s Khans

IANS Mumbai – Bollywood’s reigning Khans are in their late 40s and 21-year-old Alia Bhatt feels she needs to look more matured to look convincing…
Continue Reading »

Priyanka Chopra

If Hollywood has Hilary Swank, we have Priyanka Chopra: Bollywood filmmaker

IANS Mumbai – Filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali compares Priyanka Chopra with “Million Dollar Baby” star Hilary Swank insisting that only “Barfi” star could pull of…
Continue Reading »