Stacey Dooley defends 'exploitative' interview with rape victim in her BBC documentary Face to Face with Isis

Susannah Alexander
Photo credit: BBC - BBC

From Digital Spy

Stacey Dooley has defended the decision to interview a rape victim in her 2018 BBC documentary Face to Face with Isis.

The BBC Three documentary saw the 2018 Strictly Come Dancing winner return to Iraq and meet Shireen, a 23-year-old woman who had been held captive by Isis for over two years, during which time she was abused and raped.

During the programme, Stacey and Shireen visited the house where Shireen was imprisoned, and Stacey also set up a confrontation between Shireen and an Isis fighter in a Kurdish prison.

Photo credit: BBC

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Dooley was criticised for her decision to interview Shireen, with barrister Sareta Ashraph calling the documentary "exploitative".

"[The documentary] abides by none of the protocols of interviewing survivors of sexual violence, & excuses themselves by saying 'well, the survivor wants to talk' as though that erases their own ethical obligations," Sareta added.

It was also noted that Shireen's identity was not obscured by the programme and her sister was still in Isis territory, meaning that she could have been put at risk too.

However, Dooley has now defended the decision to conduct the interview, saying that the filmmakers had considered the risks and that Shireen had made the decision to talk to Dooley herself after months of conversations and psychosocial support.

"My hand to my heart, I genuinely feel like she wanted to tell us everything that she did, and whenever she said she didn't want to, then we just didn't talk about it," Dooley told The Sunday Times.

Photo credit: BBC - BBC

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"She seemed very at peace. I don't think that she regrets being there," Dooley continued.

"I think she took a lot from it. I feel really happy with how that was handled. I mean, it's such difficult territory, and it's impossible not to second guess and think, 'Could we have done this or this?' But I think she was well looked after and her health was prioritised, her mental health."

Dooley's next project is a documentary about coronavirus for BBC Three, which will feature stories about "the unsung heroes" of the pandemic.

"We know everyone's feeling very anxious and there's a lot of uncertainty, but let's try and celebrate the small victories, I suppose," she explained.

Rape Crisis England and Wales works towards the elimination of all forms of sexual violence and sexual misconduct. If you've been affected by the issues raised in this story, you can access more information on their website or by calling the National Rape Crisis Helpline on 0808 802 9999. Rape Crisis Scotland's helpline number is 08088 01 03 02.

Readers in the US are encouraged to contact RAINN, or the National Sexual Assault Hotline on 800-656-4673.

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