To discuss sexual assault, and its effect on their lives, their writing, and their minds, five amazing female authors agreed to answer five of our questions.
Jai Nitz is a comic book writer best known for creating “El Diablo”, one of the lead characters in Suicide Squad. Nitz took a hit to his career in the Spring of this past year when Hannah Strader posted an in depth description of the assault she faced at the hands of Nitz.
Image Via Graphic Policy
In this post, titled ‘Assault Isn’t Always Obvious, Here’s My Story,’ Strader describes meeting Nitz while he was guest speaking at Kansas University. When Nitz asked her out to drinks over twitter a few days later Strader says she “felt [she] was leaning into a mentorship.”
However, when Nitz began barraging her with sexual questions, she realized the man had different intentions.
Strader states that the evening ended with Nitz forcibly kissing her, after she had clearly expressed her discomfort towards him multiple times. Strader reported the event to her professors, who in return reported it to the school, resulting in Nitz’s presence being banned within the Kansas University School of Journalism.
Image Via University Daily Kansan
KCTV5 News reported that “within 24 hours of posting, Strader said she heard from ten other women who said Nitz had also sexually assaulted them.” Now dozens of women have come forward with similar stories.
Right now Nitz is the subject of multiple police investigations, though he has yet to be charged or arrested. Those who have come forward seek to warn other women about Nitz’s predatory behavior, and the patterns of assault that seem to form in the comic book industry.
Strader has stated that:
[I]f this happened to me by searching for a creative writing mentor, I can’t imagine the kind of influence he would have over young women who are genuinely interested in comics or come to see him at these events. It’s a power structure inequality that he has used to his advantage and I’ve been told that I’m not the only one to experience this behavior from him. I’ll be the one to talk about it.
Featured Image Via Borg
According to The Guardian Turkish prosecutors have begun investigations into numerous writers of fiction, including famed author Elif Shafak. The campaign has been described as a serious violation of free speech rights, all breaking off from recent, rather vicious debates on social media about authors who write about difficult topics, such as child abuse and sexual violence. After a page from a new novel Abdullah Sevki was shared on Twitter, the novel quickly generated deep controversy when the chapter showcased featured a first person account of a child being sexual assaulted from a sexual predator’s POV. The government of Turkey has issued a formal complaint to ban the book and has charged Abdullah Sevki with criminal acts such as potential child abuse.
Elif Shafak has described the campaign as a serious attack on free speech, having received thousands of abusive messages about her work published in the last few years, which deals with similar themes. She said her work is intended to put a spotlight on sexual violence in Turkey, especially against children, as Turkish courts have dragged their feet actually investigating reported incidents. She notes that instead of going after real life rapists, the Turkish courts are attacking writers instead, using them as a scapegoat without having to actually investigate the true problem.
Numerous speech organizations are deeply concerned about this campaign against Turkish novelists and have been quoted as saying:
“Freedom of expression in Turkey is increasingly under serious threat. Too many writers are in prison whilst others have been forced into exile.”
Shafak was previously tried for her novel, The Bastard of Istanbul, where she referred to the massacre of Armenians in World War I as a war crime and genocide. Shafak acknowledged that she deals with difficult subjects, such as sexual violence, but does not condone it and does the exact opposite with her work. She further notes she has always been a campaigner for women, children, and minority rights.
The campaign into investigating Shafak and other authors like her is sparking an international debate, both over free speech rights and content allowed in novels. What are your thoughts on this complicated issue? This could be easily be a slippery slope to go down for Turkey as a whole.
Featured Image by Random House Books