Treatment for a new TV drama
Synopsis: Short, five-scene telemovie, shot with a minimal cast.
Scene 1: A young female staffer is raped by a colleague at Parliament House. Unlike most workplaces, there is no code of conduct in place for any staff, including parliamentarians. When she seeks assistance, her bosses offer assurances; she doesn’t press charges immediately, fearing reprisals and for her livelihood. In the back of her mind is the knowledge that the number of recorded rapes and sexual assaults both doubled in the 10 years to 2019, but there was no increase in the number of offenders sentenced.
Scene 2: Soon after the staffer goes public, there’s an outcry in the media about women dancing – twerking as it’s known – on board a ship, to which several ministers lend their voices. The outrage underlines an overhanging conservatism in contemporary society. Not one MP comments on the rape accusation, or the need for an investigation, though it happened in their workplace. Note: Great vision in the dancers on board ship.
Scene 3: An allegation of historical rape is made against one of the most senior members of the federal government. The Prime Minister and his fellow MPs stand by him. Because the woman who said she was raped is dead, the case is not investigated, despite several sources corroborating her story. Her friends publicly commit to fighting for justice.
Scene 4: A female MP is groped by a cabinet minister in the Prime Minister’s office; the PM and dozens of other MPs are in the same room. Upon leaving politics, she writes a book describing a culture of misogyny, sexism and bullying. On social media, she is vilified, told to shut up, in what she believes to be a calculated campaign against her by the very party she helped win office.
Scene 5: Australian of the Year is awarded to a young woman who was groomed and sexually abused by a high school teacher. She has become an advocate for others like her and helped change the laws in some parts of the country to protect against what happened to her. She speaks out against a culture of misogyny. The Prime Minister needs to be told by his wife to imagine it was his own child before he “understands” or expresses concern.
Background notes for actors: When the women speak about their experiences, invariably categorised as stories, there’s an immediate scepticism, followed by a branding: she’s lying, power-hungry (a bitch), not coping, stressed (weak) or hormonal (deranged).