31/05/2018 13:38 SAST | Updated 31/05/2018 13:38 SAST

EXCLUSIVE: Rosie Motene 'Hurt' Over Silence In Film Industry About Sexual Misconduct

The actress spoke to HuffPost about being harassed by a prominent director recently.

Actress Rosie Motene is one of the women alleging that a prominent South African director sexually harassed her. Motene first revealed the encounter to City Press in April, leading to much dialogue about the harassment women face in the film industry.

Since she spoke up, the actress says she has received "mixed reactions" from both men and women in the industry.

"With me coming out, the response has been very mixed — I have had support from women, I have had support from men, I have support from the general public," she told HuffPost.

"The most difficult scenarios have been the silence from some of my brothers — and sisters — in the film industry; people I have worked with for almost two decades — and for me it has been very hurtful," she said.

There is always that level of guilt, that level of shame – and that is what patriarchal societies have made us believe.

She was one of the attendees at the launch of the Sisters in Film and Television [SWIFTSA] social media campaign against sexual harassment under the hashtag #That'sNotOk on Wednesday evening .

The heart of the campaign is a video series to educate people about which behaviours are acceptable — and importantly, which aren't — in the workplace.

Motene says she has spoken out about other incidents in the past, but this one "hit home", because it made her realise who she can really rely on.

"I realised in terms of my close-knit family and people who really have your back, the circle is much, much smaller."

She revealed her experience with the director — who called her a c*ckteaser — following allegations from up-and-coming actresses that they were victims of the same man.

Queenin Masuabi

She says being ashamed of speaking about sexual assault is problematic.

"There is always that level of guilt, that level of shame, and that is what patriarchal societies have made us believe: When we get raped, we deserve it. If someone pinched us or touched us in the wrong way, we asked for it," she said.

Motene says women should find their voice in issues pertaining to abuse.

"I think the most powerful way for women to really attain and achieve their power, is to go back to the drawing board and believe that they have their power. We are all powerful, it's just society that has taught us to prove that."

Motene says it is up to adults to teach children about their power from a young age, and that that there should be more solidarity among women.

No defamation lawsuit

Despite the alleged perpetrator denying all allegations of sexual assault, he has not taken any legal action against Motene or the others who have accused him.

"I have not been threatened [with legal action] personally," Motene said. "There was somebody who was on Facebook who did mention certain things. [The alleged perpetrator has] got a white female lawyer who has been sending threatening inbox messages — very condescending messages — but personally I have not been threatened."

When asked whether she would retract her statements if she sued, she responded: "No, I will stand even stronger." She is clearly prepared to take this all the way, if necessary.

This was not the first time

The actress says that sexual harassment has been all too familiar throughout her career. She recalls another incident in which she was made to feel uncomfortable by another producer.

"I was dating a filmmaker, and his business partner kept on making moves on me. As much as I tried to stop it, my partner also did not try to stand up for my honour — and only when I included the fact that I would be taking it to the police, only then did they say: 'this one we can't push over'. But in the months that led up to that, I was doubted."