Moving SWIFTly along!!

3 Dec

My three passions in life are Women, Africa, and the arts. I trained through POWA (people opposing women abuse) over 17 years ago and ever since I have been using my knowledge, expertise, and experience to create awareness on abuse and help survivors.
In 2015 I gave up acting after an unfortunate incident, which can be read here: https://city-press.news24.com/Voices/rosie-motenes-metoo-statement-20180429

After I resigned, I received an influx of private messages from actresses who had worked with the same particular producer and thanked me, as they had received the same treatment, some were fired and some succumbed to the demands. The unfortunate reality is that women have suffered for centuries by having to prove themselves, the couch audition is very real and often actresses are expected to perform sex acts just to get ahead. I worked extensively with SAGA http://www.saguidlofactors.co.za on the matter and they have really been a pillar of strength and support not only on a personal level but they have been credible in their work ethic and standpoint. In 2018 I met with the new management of the same production house who were horrified at the findings and the matter are resolved effectively and I feel satisfied as I know their sets will be safe for artists and crew to work on.

At the beginning of the year, I was alerted to a disturbing tweet regarding a fellow industry player. My blog on the matter can be found here:
https://rosiemoteneblog.wordpress.com/2018/04/18/rape-crisis-support-those-who-speak-out/

When I wrote that particular article I was concerned but also I felt guilty as many years back the accused called me a cock teaser after I got out of a very comfortable situation that he deliberately put us in. I knew that the time would be right to support the survivors as for a long time I felt that perhaps if I had ousted him then, perhaps I could have saved so many other rapes.
I then made the decision to contact SWIFT, through Sara Blecher. They assured me that they had been waiting for my call despite knowing where I was they never made the initial contact.
SWIFT- Sisters Working in Film & TV started the organization in 2016.

Charl Blignaut from City Press newspaper contacted me for an interview and I was in two minds to share my story as a few days prior I had spoken to a SWIFT representative who suggested that I do not go public. I sat on the decision and then I decided that as an activist I owed it to the other survivors and I participated in the article:
https://city-press.news24.com/News/khalo-matabane-women-speak-out-20180429

After the whole process, I realized that I had not dealt with that period effectively and reading up on the other survivor’s stories, I was triggered as I was still dealing with a separate trauma, I was raped nearly 20 years ago but never did anything about it and I purposely suppressed it. These triggers led to anxiety and elevated my fibromyalgia. A condition that I was diagnosed with after suffering from PTSD. I knew then that I would have to deal with my inner conflict and pain but I needed to gain as much support emotionally and psychologically. So I needed help and felt that SWIFT would be able to supply us with the necessary support as one of their mandates was tackling the sexual harassment in the industry. PTSD and these illnesses and triggers are very common to survivors of sexual harassment, rap, and abuse.

I began working with Aliki, Natalie, and Sara and agreed to be part of a panel at an event which was meant to be a safe space, the invite is below. My assistance to them included interviews, meetings and using my own resources, as an activist I was glad to assist.

swift

The panel included experts from the legal fraternity ad myself.
At the event Carolyn Carew, whom I knew as a revered and professional producer stood up and read out a written testimony, pouring out her heart. I truly felt for her story and after she was done, I even said that she needed to find healing. She had stated that she did know about the allegations against Khalo Matabane and had subsequently fired him from her company and seemed to be more worried about the release of her new movie. He had directed that particular film along with a number of others. Her major concern was that she would lose a lot of money.

A few days after the event, I then met with Sara, Carolyn, and members from SAGA on working out a way forward. The meeting was held at Sara’s home. I had mentioned in the meeting that I had sent an email to the IPO (independent producers organisation) for a response on the matter and that i was waiting to hear back. I also shared some of my strategy forward, regarding our reporting and legal route. At this pont in time, I had no idea that Carolyn was in fact the chair person of the IPO and when I shared my plans she did inform me that she was the one who had received the complaint. A few days later we received a repsone from IPO and stating that Khalo was not a member, I was initially satisfied but I then I discovered that he might not have been a member but his business artner, Carolyn was the chair and had orchestrted the mail.
We managed to obtain proof of this below:

PHOTO-2018-07-17-11-13-32

All the while I had been assisting and supporting survivors who had shared their stories publically as well as many others who did not want to reveal their identity. This is a common factor in these cases as survivors fear intimidation and in my case blacklisted as an actress, as you are seen as being diffiuclt and too opinionated. I still respect their deicon and I still believe them and I will support the to the grave.

A few months later many people questioned me as to why Carolyn had not made a public statement on the matter. It was then that I learned that she in fact was not his employer but a business partner as he was the director of her films and a director in the business and held a percentage in the production company. I was also awakened to the fact that she had orchestrated the IPO response but failed to mention it in the private meeting that was held at Sara house. This was worrying.
One of the survivors contacted Sara and asked these questions and Sara’s response was that the press release had been issued. In a private email to Sara and the survivor, I questioend this. Please read below. Please note I have omitted the last part of the email as it incuded perosnal infomtion on one of the other survivors and I shared with Sara as I believed it to be safe.

Greetings Ladies,

I hope you are well.

I wanted to write to both of you at the same time, as I believe in transparency.

Firstly, I wanted to thank both of you for your support and allowing me the platforms to push my passion and activism, the industry really needs that energy and force.

I do believe that moving forward, we need clarity on certain things so we are all on the same page. We cannot allow ourselves to become divided on this as it will dilute our fight.

With regard to the Khalo issue:

1. A few survivors will be opening cases but we are working on a few logistics and Inge and myself will share that with SWIFT when the time is right.
As per my previous mail, we wanted to know if SWIFT would stand in solidarity with us, yourself and Aliki replied, saying that the decision would be made by the board. I respect that and I will wait for that response.

2. The AGM. I believe the AGM has been moved for logistics reason. The time that it was meant to happen was 11h00 thus excluding many JHB and CT members as they would prefer to have it after hours. There will be an alternative meeting that will take place. As per my previous mail to Sara, please let me know what the agenda is, as I was planning to travel but if it is not that important then I can Skype through.

3. The Carolyn issue. This has come up on many social media streams as well as conversations that I have had with Inge. Carolyn did speak out the issue at the JHB meeting but I have not gone public on her speech as the meeting and space was a sacred one. It was a safe space for us women to unleash, share and find healing. It would be wrong and disrespectful for me to publicly make those announcements. This has then led to a number of filmmakers believing that SWIFT is protecting Carolyn and indirectly Khalo, as they are unaware that she has removed herself from Khalo. I am not sure how you plan to make this public but perhaps ask if you can make her comment public and then notify the other members that you have received that permission. This is to ensure that the other members still feel safe.

There was a response to some of the areas, but there was no mention on my response on the Khalo issue.

After continually​ asking this question I soon felt unsafe as I shared a lot of private information​ via email regarding​ our strategy, legal route etc.
I then decided to distance myself​ from Swift and the email is below, once​ again I have omitted the end part of the mail as it contains confidential information on one of the survivors and her well being.

*******************************************************************************
From: Rosie Motene
Date: Monday, August 6, 2018 at 9:23 AM
To: Aliki Saragas
Cc: Sara Blecher,​ Natalie Haarhoff
Subject: Re: distance from swift

Greetings

I hope you are all well.

I would like to inform you that from a personal standpoint I will be distancing myself from SWIFT.

I regarded this as a safe space as well as our jhb meeting. I understand your loyalty to Carolyn and her company but my concern is for the survivors.
With the IPO statement,​ Carolyn did not disclose that she had orchestrated the response. Her response at the jhb meeting was met with concern and as I told her she needed to heal. I then discovered that response was shared publicly, as a participant of the meeting, I find it concerning as we were not informed. What else was made public? Remember you declared it as a safe space.

*******************************************************************************

A few weeks after my​ email was sent I was invited to an interview on a TV show called Daily Theta. There I​ met with Zoe Ramushu who told me that she had received​d my mail and that she would respond. I was surprised at what she said as in the past few months I had never met with her and all my email and telephonic and personal corresponadne had been with Sara, Natalie and Aliki.

*******************************************************************************
Response from Zoe through the SWIFT board:
On 22 Aug 2018, at 18:48, Chiriseri Studios wrote:

Good day Rosie,

I’m so glad we met and were able to chat. As per our conversation,​ I’d just wanted to reach out formally as SWIFT to just apologize for the ways in which some of the issues around Khalo were handled.

We are so proud of the women who spoke up and started the wave of more women speaking up- we fully support and stand by them. We do believe our actions showed our support- by the statement we put out (albeit a bit slow), the event we set up, with your help, as well as engaging and facilitating connections to help the survivors who reached out to us. However, we do acknowledge that in all these actions there were some mistakes made from which we are taking our learnings from.

Essentially as I mentioned, SWIFT is an organization made up of volunteers, the majority of whose backgrounds are in film & television. If I’m absolutely transparent it varies between 5-7 of the same women depending who’s not on a project or burnt out. None of us in the team have any experience with trauma counseling or legal advising re: sexual crimes. As such we always intended to be a place people could reach out to and be connected with organizations who are trained and qualified to deal in this sensitive area- ie LHR, Lifeline, POWA partnerships.

We must acknowledge that in our haste to protect and help the victims who spoke up, we began engaging directly with them when untrained and this is potentially more damaging- but in all honesty Rosie when there is someone who has been brave enough to step up and contact you it’s difficult to tell them the technicalities such as – LHR hasn’t responded to our emails yet so please wait till they do -for example. Natural instinct is to jump in and help a fellow womxn/human.

That said we are vigorously working to put in place all our partnerships so everyone who comes forward can be helped by trained professionals. Simultaneously we are working on our policy document which will outline exactly what to expect from SWIFT in future situations so that we don’t experience a crisis of expectation, as we discussed.

In terms of a safe space being violated – this is something we are deeply sorrowful about as we have worked tirelessly over the last two years to create a safety net precisely for survivors. On this issue I couldn’t correctly articulate how the safe space was violated to the rest of the board. If you could kindly expand on how we ensure that a safe space that we create remains safe even after the event- so in future this doesn’t happen.

The board has made a decision that SWIFT will focus on the programmes we have developed around policy and strategies that structurally change the industry to make it better for womxn rather than create the expectation that we can help individual womxn through their crisis – we cannot deliver on this. We will be concentrating our efforts on the Pledge Campaign, the Code of Conduct we have developed being as widely adopted, lobbying government around these issues in partnership with CALS and SAGA as well as the Safety Officer Campaign going forward. We believe this is a critical intervention and one we can work on.

In addition to this we wil,​l continue to create partnerships and relationships with other organizations that can assist so that we can act as a referral – in terms of connecting these women to other resources that may be able to help them.

Finally,​ I really do appreciate you saying that we must clarify what exactly SWIFT offers so that all the good work we have done over the last two years does not get sidelined. We unequivocally support and stand with the victims and will continue to do so via statements and any other measures we can but we do respect your need to step back in this particular case. I’m so glad that we can work together going forward after this case is finalized and that the relationship is not lost as we value your knowledge and input and you as a person so much.

This battle has just begun and we will need each other to truly put an end to all the violence. We are so happy to have you in our corner.

Zoe Ramushu (On Behalf of the SWIFT Board)

Chiriseri Studios
********************************************************************************

My response:
On Thu, 23 Aug 2018 at 09:18, Rosie Motene wrote:

Greetings,

Thank you for the email.

I believe in transparency so I will be honest from the start. It was lovely seeing you the other day on the ​set of Daily Theta​, but I have to say I was rather surprised when you apologised for not responding to my mail. I was surprised as I had never addressed you as I was not aware that you are the spokes person. I had sent all of my emails to Aliki, Natalie, ​and Sara. I thank you for this mail and apology.

As per our conversation, my areas of concern were as follows:

1. Swift approach to the Khalo Matabane case, thank you have addressed it. I will not discuss this​ further as it is now a legal matter and I will only confide in my counsellor and lawyer.

2. Swift transparency with Carolyn Carew- I see you have not addressed this at all. At the meeting that SWIFT called, which was supposed to be a safe space for women. Carolyn opened up about her anxiety around the issue. I really felt her pain but was taken aback ​at the testimony. In our meeting at the Daily Thetaha studio, you even agreed that you were surprised by it and was not aware that she was going to speak. With that said, there was a lot of crucial information that had not been shared in her testimony. I say testimony as we were in a sacred space, created by SWIFT. She did not share that Khalo I was not an employee but actually a 33% shareholder​ in her company, she did not mention that her testimony was,​ in fact,​a statement and that it would be made public. These are also areas which were not shared with those present.
A few weeks back Ingeborg Lichtenberg included me in an email sent to Sara, addressing these iss​ues and I also responded stating that yes Carolyn spoke up about distancing her self but since it was in a safe space, it was not my permission or right to share the information. I have attached a scene grab of the email. I did not get a response on most of those facts and areas of concern. Since it was one of my major issues in our personal conversation and you have evaded it in this mail, sends major warning signs to me.

3. Regarding your set up as an organization​, as I said in original chat, perhaps you should position yourself as an organisation that can help and promote women in film, since you do not have the capacity to help women on other areas. Granted you have the contact with Lifeline and the lawyers but on request about the lawyers, I was told that you were working on the issue and waiting to get a collective group of survivors so we could have a united front. I said that I would try with a another lawyer. Since I did not get feedback from you, I have aligned with another lawyer, whom I will keep confidential, until the case goes to court. The reason for this is that one of my sources confided in me that she was aware of my plans, which means somebody on that email shared the information.

A few weeks back and as per the email sent to the other ladies, I shared that myself and Inge were going to open a case and we wanted support from SWIFT, the response was that the decision would have to come from the board. I respected that but did not receive any more feedback.

With the volunteers and people using their own time for the organisorganization​ally understand that. My activism does not bring in cash and is packaged with a lot of long hours, anxiety and trauma. It is something that not everyone can do and so do not feel bad if you cannot but my suggestion is do not pretend to do so. The activism space is a very scared and respected space. I gave off my time freely to SWIFT as I believed there was transparency, I will continue to do so with organisations that do so. The fact remains that at the second meeting that was held at Saras house, I spoke of the fact that I had called out IPO and I was waiting on a response. Once again, I was naive in believing that I was in a trusted space. Carolyn did not mention at all that she was in fact chairperson and that she would orchestrated the IPO response. I have attached that email proof.

On a personal note, I suggest that if any of your members have covered up on any sexual harassment allegations that occurred on their sets, they should come forward and acknowledge their wrongdoing​ and make an apology. I say this as there is a survivor who has claimed this and has proof, should this information go public, it could have negative implications for your brand. As I have been personally counseling​ survivors, at this point they are focusing on their healing, which I strongly advised the,. Let it be know there are many damaged souls out there, some who have tried to take their lives.

3. In response to how to engage with survivors, I respect your reply and once again as per our conversation, perhaps change your policy and let women know that you do not actually have the capacity, knowledge, ​and logistics to help women in those situations.
From POWA point of view. We had our quarterly meeting last Saturday and I presented my facts to the board and they stand with me and unfortunately we will not align ourselves with you, due to the lack of transparency and breach in safe​ space.
In response to your comment regarding safe spaces:
On this issue​,​​ I couldn’t correctly articulate how the safe space was violated to the rest of the board. If you could kindly expand on how we ensure that a safe space that we create remains safe even after the event- so in future this doesn’t happen.
As we discussed, I said that Carolyn’s testimony was never told to us that it would be shared as a press statement. This violates the aim of the safe meeting, which you had put on the invite. At the bottom of the invite it was written, NO press or recordings. That means that the information shared there would remain confidential.

In conclusion, I stand with my intention to distance myself from the organization​​n and as I stated, POWA will not be aligned either. I know that in our conversation I said that possibly in the future we could work together, unfortunately since you have managed to sideline my main concerns I can honestly say you do NOT have me in your corner. I will continue to do work with SAGA and I am sure our paths will cross but please let it be known​ that you can no longer use my name image or brand in any of your discussions, marketing etc.

In solidarity,​ I stand!!!
********************************************************************************
​​​​​
I still waited for the information​ to be shared but it was not. I then saw that SWIFT posted an additional post on Sexual HHarassment​but had not included any information on support from an NGO.

So what are my issues?

1. As Sara and Zoe have continuously stated that they are a ​bunch​ of filmmakers who are volunteering their time, they are not activists. This is despite the fact that Zoe accepted the title of an activist​t at the Joburg film festival panel discussion. I respect them as filmmakers and salute them for their accoldaes but they need to acknowledg that the sensitivity and sanctity of working with surviors are​ important and they need to take a stance on that. After all,​ when I originally​ came on board I volunteered​ my resources, shared our strategy​, used my own account to travel​ back and forth between meetings and interviews for them. As an activist,​ these are normal actions that we do plus we have to endure the intimidation​ and security aspects attached to the work that we do. It is not a glamorous​ job and often shows no immediate rewards but requires passion, commitment, ​and loyalty. I gave my ideas of raining finnace to host workshops, as that seemed to be the major concern.

2. In an interview​ on radio​ 702 with Joanne Joseph on Friday 30 November, Zoe said that she had engaged POWA through me, that is a lie as I had contacted​ Sara initially​​. They said that they have a connection​ with Lifeline, this is for one counselling session. Survisovrs of rape need​ more that​ one telephonic conversation.
The interview can be heard here:
http://www.702.co.za/articles/329219/actress-accuses-women-s-org-of-protecting-alleged-sexual-predators

3. I was told that I would have access to legal​ help and on two occasions, Sara informed me that they were​ getting a team together, that never transpired. The only time we s survivors received advice was when their rep said we should not talk publicly​ about our trauma. Due to the urgency of the matter, which is an important​ factor within the activism space, I then made use of my personal​ legal team. For the record the same person​ contacted​ one of the other survivors and advised not to report the case, there was no strategy​ attached to her comments. The survivor contacted me as she did not feel comfortable with the call.

4. I believe that SWIFT has​ excelled in the​ skills development and workshop aspect and we salute them for that. In terms of the activism​ space, they need assistance​ yet their argument is that they​​ are just filmmakers​. So as filmmakers​ do what you know​ best and do not try and undermine our questions and pain. This was mentioned a number of times at the acting indaba, which was held on 28 November in Johannesburg. In my talk at the same event, I pointed out to Sara that they had failed us as survivors​ ​and​ they needed to do what​ was right. The next day on the radio interview​, Zoe claimed​ that it was resolved. How was it resolved? At the same Indaba they bragged how they had traveled​ around the world sharing the​ work that they have done, this is fantastic​ as it has given them visibility but I​​ also see it as window dressing and​ dangerous as they have not begun to handle the sensitive​ and pressing issues that they claim to​ care about.

A way forward:
Continue to succeed in addressing the practical​ issues of the industry. Share their strategy​​ of how to deal with members​ who are involved and implicated​ ​in sexual​ harassment​ or rape cases. Please,​ could you stop claiming​ to be activists​ when it suits​ you then when called out call yourselves filmmakers who are volunteering​​g services?​ Choose your roles​ and battles effectively.

As I​ stated we all respect​ your accolades​ as filmmakers​ and perhaps stick to that and leave the activism to organizations​​s​​ that can effectively handle cases of rape, sexual harassment​, ​and abuse.
At the Joburg film festival panel, Gail Smith asked pertinent​​ questions about the particular​ case and addressed the concern around calling yourselves, ​activists. She also made an offer to assist​ you. I strongly​ suggest you take up that support as you cannot continue to fail survivors.

For assistance​ with abuse, shelter or counseling​ contact POWA
http://www.powa.co.za

Aluta Continua!!!

​​ ​​​​​​

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