A Spanish actress has publicly denounced a film she starred in due to the inclusion of a scene she claims makes fun of women being raped.
The decision by Teresa Lozano to repudiate the movie Ligones, currently showing in a handful of cinemas around Spain, has stirred controversy over “rape culture” and lingering sexist attitudes towards women.
Ms Lozano, who says she regrets taking part in the film at short notice without reading the script beforehand, claims that Ligones (which has the English title Flirts) “legitimises” rape.
In a supposedly amusing scene the audience is given to understand that a drunk and unconscious virgin woman is abused. She ends up having a baby as a result.
In a Facebook post, Ms Lozano wrote that she was shocked on seeing the final version of the film and informed the producers and her fellow actors that she had renounced any possible fees arising from the project, for which the cast had worked without pay.
“I feel panic thinking that a group of lads of 16 to 18 [the film is classified 16] can go to see the film and think that raping an unconscious woman is to have sex with her and that they have a right to do it, that it’s no big deal and she might even enjoy it,” the actress from Madrid wrote.
In an interview with the BBC, Ms Lozano said she felt she had no choice but to speak out on what she saw as a moral issue, even though it might earn her a reputation for being a “complicated actress”.
“I am frightened that this will affect me. Although I believe I have done the right thing, directors and producers might think that I have attacked a director after working on a project and that I might do that again.”
Ligones director and scriptwriter José Texeira has hit back at Ms Lozano’s claims, accusing her of launching “false accusations”.
Mr Texeira declined an invitation to comment for this article, but in a statement distributed to the media in Spain, he said “there is no rape scene in Ligones, and nor does it promote violence against women”.
Most of the hundreds of people who have commented on Ms Lozano’s Facebook post congratulate the actress on calling out sexism, and even calling for the film to be banned. But not everyone agrees with her stand, seen by some as opportunistic.
“Almost all Spanish teen comedies are based on this pile of clichés. Drunk people in a mess, emotional blackmail and gender violence of varying degrees are standard fare,” wrote Sergio Plaza.
But Ms Lozano says that behind her personal protest is a real issue affecting Spanish society and the portrayal of women and sexual relations on film. “In a country where a rape occurs every eight hours, it’s shocking to try to make comedy out of that issue. We women are always the bait, always objectified and always the butt of the joke.”
Ms Lozano says that the scene in Ligones has parallels with a notorious real-life case of alleged gang rape currently awaiting trial in which five men are accused of abusing a drunk 18-year-old woman during Pamplona’s famous bull-running San Fermín festival in July 2016.
One of the five men filmed the alleged attack on his mobile phone, which, combined with CCTV footage, allowed prosecutors to see how the men forced the woman into the entrance of a building, surrounding her and penetrating her one by one. The men claim that the sex was consensual. Prosecutors have asked that they be sentenced to 22 years in prison each.
Ms Lozano posted a banner image at the end of her post stating “End rape culture”.
Spain’s political parties united in July to approve 200 measures aimed at helping women who suffer violence at the hands of men.
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