Remember that brutal Game of Thrones scene, where Sophie Turner's character, Sansa Stark, was raped by Ramsay Bolton? Well, the actress was so moved by it and so determined that some good would come out of it that she actively hunted out a charity to team up with. Women for Women International was that charity and, as part of her work with them, she travelled to Rwanda, where it's estimated that 500,000 women were raped during the 1994 genocide.
"A couple of years ago I was shooting Game of Thrones and there was a rape secene in it, which caused a lot of controversy,' she said. "And, I wanted to get involved with helping women out who have gone through the same thing, to make it a discussion in our lives so there was a constant dialogue about it."
"What I've seen in Rwanda has been really eye-opening, quite harrowing but really inspirational," she added. "I thought it was going to be sad, but in reality I've been completely inspired."
Read on below for Sophie Turner's exclusive report for InStyle about how Women for Women are helping the women of Rwanda thrive:
• My trip to Rwanda with Women for Women International made me realise just how important a sisterhood or brotherhood really is. In a time where it seems a lot of focus is being placed upon domestic issues and concerns, it’s important that we draw some attention to the people who aren’t able to publicise the horrors that are occurring or have occurred in their own countries. It made me look outside myself. It was truly an eye-opening experience.
• In Rwanda women are still dealing with the aftermath of the 1994 genocide when over 1 million people were killed and the UN estimates that up to 500,000 women were systemically raped during the 100 days of violence. What I saw in Rwanda was harrowing, but really inspirational. That’s what’s surprised me the most. I knew it was going to be sad but in reality I’ve found myself completely inspired, by the strength and resilience of these women, who given the right support are not just surviving but thriving.
• The women I met in Rwanda have inspired me in so many ways. They’ve shown me that no matter how bad a person’s situation can be, whether financially, emotionally, sometimes even physically; it is possible to heal and get yourself back on track, through sheer perseverance and the power of teaching and friendship. It’s possible to do and become whatever you want.
• I’m asking men and women to join the global sisterhood, an online community created by Women for Women International which provides regular doses of inspiration and information on how to get involved and support vulnerable women. And those who can afford it, I am encouraging to join me in sponsoring a woman through the Women for Women International year-long programme. It costs £22 per month and will change the woman’s life, and that of her family forever.
• Many of the women I met in Rwanda expressed to me just how important and touching it was for them to receive their letters from their sponsors and how much of a boost it gave them, to know that they’re not alone. For women to know that there is someone out there supporting them is transformative – it does wonders for their confidence and mental health. I’ve seen it in person, which is why I’m very proud to sponsor Felicite in Rwanda.
For International Women’s Day, Sophie Turner, new Patron of Women for Women International – UK, is sharing the film of her recent trip to Rwanda with the charity here and urging men and women to join the global sisterhood to show solidarity for survivors of sexual violence and conflict.
More information womenforwomen.org.uk