I am incredibly proud of what we are doing with this paid media production, part of the educational podcast series called Liefde kent geen dwang, thus Love knows no coercion, in collaboration with the Landelijk Knooppunt Huwelijksdwang en Achterlating and the Municipality of The Hague.
There are even tears when I read an excerpt from my book Exodus uit de vuurtoren, thus Exodus from the Lighthouse. Tears of gratitude for having gotten away with an arranged and forced marriage. I’m talking about how I was on my way to:
- Abandonment in an ultraorthodox Jewish community in New York;
- Not completing my VWO degree, so high school;
- Losing the little stuff that I had gathered and my social foundation in Amsterdam:
- Letting go of my then love Max de Winter (and today my beautiful friend);
- Ending up in a forced marriage, with at least big question marks about self-determination and empowerment, given the prevailing ideology.
All of this, while various forms of coercion played a role. I couldn’t have spoken with more integrity.
I talk about group thinking, filtering, bolstering and distorted inference. In other words, power, selective perception of how things should be, looking for evidence to support a point-of-view and being right and the thought of one’s own actions being more important/better/more moral/superior to that of others who make different choices. That’s how spiritual abuse works. This is based on a so-called sense of security (especially when God comes into the picture), a group culture and a sense of belonging (us against them). I advocate for moral renewal and moral modesty. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented – Elie Wiesel. And indifference, to me, is the epitome of evil.
Together with Sander Denneman for production and Süheyla Yalcin and Diny Flierman for content.
By the way, a disclaimer: in times of so-called ‘branding’, we almost seem to have to emphasize that we do not create these kinds of storytelling and journalistic productions for that kind of purpose, but for actual change and historiography. Documenting is part of the journey. Because humanity still turns out to be incredibly fragile, so the importance of this is for the short and long term. Apart from media productions, I work on consultancy, impact on policymaking and lobbying.
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