Amina – MWRC and Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre Launch ‘Hopscotch’ this 16 Days of Action
This 16 Days of Action to end Gender-based Violence, Amina – Muslim Women’s Resource Centre and Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre are proud to launch the film ‘Hopscotch’ at a series of events across the nation. Hopscotch explores racist, sexist and Islamophobic street harassment, and was based on a poem by Nadine Aisha Jassat (Nadine Aisha) and made by award-winning filmmaker Roxana Vilk.
Read on for more information about the film and why we made it, as well as browsing our calendar of events during Hopscotch’s launch this 16 Days, or watch the trailer on YouTube.
What happens when you walk down the street? Hopscotch, a film by Roxana Vilk based on the poem by Nadine Aisha Jassat, executive produced by Amina – MWRC with the support of the Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre, explores just that. Based on the true account of the harassment and violence experienced by women, with a focus on ethnic minority women and Muslim women, in public spaces (Nadine Aisha’s Hopscotch), this film aims to highlight the lived reality for many women across Scotland, the UK and beyond.
The film shows us what many women, and what practitioners at Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre and Amina – MWRC, already know: that the harassment women experience on the street forms part of their experience of racism, of Islamophobia, and of men’s violence against women. The poet of the piece, Nadine Aisha Jassat, tells us that Hopscotch came directly from her own lived experience of this: ‘the poem is made up of statements, phrases, and comments which men have said to me in public places throughout my life’, Nadine says.
For the filmmaker Roxana Vilk, it was key to try and translate this experience onto camera; ‘it was important to make the film in such a way that the viewer really gets a sense of what it feels like to be walking down a street as an ethnic minority woman experiencing this constant harassment. The sound design (created by Peter Vilk) plays a crucial part in this, as we recorded multiple men voicing the documented harassment.’ ‘Roxana notes how she and Nadine joined Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre’s prevention project to spend time with Young Saheliya, a group of young ethnic minority women as they worked with Amina: the Muslim Women’s Resource Centre to share their feelings and ideas on the issues most relevant to them. She ensured their voices were represented, quite literally, in the project: ‘we recorded the young women’s voices speaking the poem as a chorus, so that the film also carries an underlying feel of the collective women’s outcry at this continued harassment that still exists today’.
So called ‘street harassment’ is one of ‘the most pervasive forms of gender-based violence, and yet least legislated against’. Research published by anti-Islamophobia charity Tell Mama UK discovered that of the approximately 300% increase in Islamophobic hate crimes in 2015, the majority of incidents were targeted at Muslim women, by white men, in public places.
As well as Islamophobic and gender-based abuse, for many ethnic minority women harassment in the street and public places also forms part of their experience of racism. Locally, a 2013 study by anti-street harassment group Hollaback! Edinburgh found that more than 80% of young people aged 12 – 25 had experienced street harassment in Edinburgh – the majority of respondents being young women and LGBT young people. In 2017 the same campaign group released a second survey, this time asking respondents – the majority of whom identified as women – if they felt the attacker was targeting aspects of their identity. Of the 86% who said yes, Hollaback! Edinburgh found that 51% (the majority) felt that their attacker was targeting their gender. The second biggest majority which followed this was those who felt their harassers were attacking their race.
As a society, we often hear attitudes which dismiss the harassment women receive on the street; women are told to ‘take it as a compliment’, to ‘ignore it’ or to change their behaviour to avoid it. We know that women’s experiences of this abuse is multi-layered with other aspects of their identity including age, gender-identity, sexuality, ethnicity, disability and religion.Via Hopscotch, Amina – MWRC and Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre aim to challenge the notion that street harassment is benign or indeed complimentary – and instead highlight the violence present in the sexist, racist and Islamophobic abuse featured in the film, and begin to open up a conversation about this lived reality for many women in the UK today. We aim to place the blame solely where it belongs, on the perpetrator, and hope that the film will contribute towards challenging – and changing- prevalent cultural norms in which gender-based violence is normalised, excused or tolerated.
For the poet, Nadine, Hopscotch’s purpose ultimately comes back to reclaiming the narrative: ‘Street harassment,’ she argues, ‘can be a voiceless experience. By writing Hopscotch, and presenting the words which had been said to me and throwing them back through poetry, I hoped to reclaim both voice and power.’
If you’d like to attend a screening of Hopscotch, check out our calendar of events during the 16 Days of Action to End Gender-Based Violence below. If you’d like to arrange a screening or find out more about the film, contact Nadine Jassat or Safa Yousaf at: firstname.lastname@example.org // email@example.com
Calendar of Events
Saturday 25th November – LONDON – 11am, Women of the Lens Film Festival. Book Tickets.
Monday 27th November – FORTH VALLEY: ALLOA – 5 – 6.30pm The Speirs Centre, Space For Action: Hopscotch Film Screening with Panel Discussion and Workshops , in association with Forth Valley Rape Crisis Centre, Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre, and Amina – MWRC. More information available online here.
Wednesday 29th November – GLASGOW – NUS Scotland, University of Strathclyde. Book Tickets.
Wednesday 6th December – ABERDEEN – NUS Scotland, University of Aberdeen. Book Tickets.
Saturday 9th December – EDINBURGH – 15.40 – 18.30, 16 Days Edinburgh Programme, The Film House. Screened alongside the film ‘Pink Saris’ and followed by a panel discussion. Book Tickets.
 Hollaback Edinburgh, https://edinburgh.ihollaback.org/about-us/
 Tell Mama UK 2016 The Geography of Anti-Muslim Hatred https://tellmamauk.org/geography-anti-muslim-hatred-2015-tell-mama-annual-report/