Miss Israel Linor Abargil was abducted, stabbed and raped in Milan, Italy, at age 18. She had to represent her country in the Miss World competition only six weeks later. When to her shock she was crowned the winner, she vowed to do something about rape. The film follows her from the rape, to being crowned Miss World, to her fight to put a serial rapist behind bars, to becoming a public advocate for others. As she travels to speak out and meet with other survivors of rape, her rapist becomes eligible for parole, and she has to hunt down his previous victims in order to help keep him incarcerated. The film is the story of one young woman’s journey from teenage rape victim to Miss World, to empowered lawyer and activist. Linor stepped up to speak out before the #MeToo movement, without a global community there to support her. Her courage in being at the vanguard of the movement, and her belief that no matter how hard it was to speak up, that her story would help give others the courage to not stay silent, is the heart of Brave Miss World. The transformative time for change is now.
“Since my rape was reported in the international media, wherever I go in the world, for work or otherwise, people approach me and confide that they too were raped, and that I was a role model for them. “You gave us the courage to tell someone, to press charges. You helped us recover.”
The encounters with these women, along with a lot of therapy, have helped me understand how after the trial, I went into hiding. I wanted my privacy, and I couldn’t engage publicly with the issue of rape. But at the same time, I knew that there was a reason for what had happened, and I had an increasing sense of not things not being resolved. I have come to believe that the rape and the spotlight as a Miss World are part of my destiny. I feel compelled to share my story and reach out to millions of women around the world in their painful plight. A plight that in so many cases exceeds my own.
Figures indicate that 80% of rapes are unreported. One of the main reasons for this is the lack of support from a rape victim’s family and friends. I know from experience how alienating it can be. The people closest to a rape victim treat them differently when she needs them the most. Studies also attest that most rape cases occur within the family or by a person whom the victim knew prior to the rape. The law in many countries in the world is not on the side of rape victims, and the sentences for rape and sexual assault are terribly inadequate. Even in progressive nations, rape convictions are rare.
The film is based on my personal story, but also on the reality of the rape of women throughout the world. I had the complete support of my family after being raped, but I know I was very lucky to have had that and it is so often not the case. I will try, during the film, to share how I coped with my own trauma, while reaching out to women around the world and encouraging them to rise up and press charges. To speak out. Not to hold your silence.
During this journey, I will investigate the status of rape in different countries, gather data on the state of legislation in the world and travel with the aim of gathering strength from women in order to make a change, both in legislation and in the world’s awareness of the epidemic of rape and sexual assaults around the world.
Because I believe that the title of Miss World holds a responsibility for social action, I would like to give my crown a personal and meaningful context. I hope to reach women in the fields of politics, economics, entertainment and culture throughout the world, in order to increase awareness and promote legislative change. I will also connect with organizations around the world which deal with rape and sexual assault. My goal in the film would be to increase awareness and create significant change in the perception of rape throughout the world.
I am interested in investigating what leads men to rape women and whether there is hope for prevention. Most significantly, throughout the film, I hope to meet other women who have been raped, those who have spoken but also those who have stayed silent to this very day. I will share my experience, and in doing so try to give others the courage to break their silence. Together we can try to understand what happened to our lives after that trauma, how the course of our lives changed, the self accusation and the fears, and how we can rise up, rehabilitate and take care for ourselves.”