Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Telenovelas: A Platform for Social Reform

Telenovelas are popular because they are really more than melodramas. While the plot may be twisted and convoluted, the writers often address much more important problems. They present political and social issues in an extremely entertaining and theatrical way. The complexity of the storylines mixed with everyday issues makes telenovelas the most addicting shows on TV. Similarly, the Turkish telenovela Fatmagulu Sucu Ne addresses social issues in an extremely captivating way. Unlike other telenovelas, Fatmagul moves at an exceptionally slow pace and does not end in a cliffhanger. While this show is not the stereotypical telenovela, it is still both addicting and powerful. It addresses the issues of rape and victim shaming while having a complex Romeo and Juliet love story.
In the first episode a beautiful young woman named Fatmagul is gang raped by three men. She is subsequently shamed and ostracized by everyone she knows. Her “loving” fiancĂ©, Mustafa, leaves her and burns down their future home. Then she is forced to tell the police she lied about the rape and is pressured to marry one of her rapists.

From the first episodes, the writers obviously want to draw attention to the Middle Eastern culture’s reaction to rape. After Fatmagul was assaulted, she is treated as if she were to blame. No one seems to care about catching the culprits or getting justice for her. While Fatmagul is wrongly scrutinized and shamed for being raped, her ex-fiancĂ© Mustafa, receives nothing but comfort and support. From this, the writers are hinting that Middle Eastern women are often treated unfairly in this situation. While western women usually receive support after an assault, Middle Eastern women may not have the same comforts. This show suggests that sexually assaulted women are treated like outcasts and their lives and reputations will never be the same. The extreme drama and blatant cruelty in Fatmagul Sucu Ne demonstrates the severity of this issue and the need for social reform.

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