Abuse featured in The Handmaid's Tale is also happening to real women and girls

Hit show The Handmaid's Tale and human rights organisation Equality Now launch partnership to highlight women's rights.

International women’s rights organization Equality Now has unveiled a new campaign with Emmy Award-winning Hulu Original Series, The Handmaid’s Tale, which calls on people to use the power of their name and the power of the law to achieve equality for women and girls.

At the heart of the campaign is a two minute film, Hope Lives in Every Name, in which members of the cast and production team share testimonies that may sound as if they are from The Handmaid’s Tale but are in fact the words of real women with personal experiences of issues covered in the hit show, including sexual violence, trafficking and female genital mutilation.

Stories came from women in Sierra Leone, Britain, Tanzania, Jordan, Bolivia and the United States.

The film features series writer Bruce Miller, producer Warren Littlefield and actors Joseph Fiennes, Samira Wiley, Madeline Brewer, Ann Dowd, O-T Fagbenle, Amanda Brugel and Alexis Bledel, sharing a script by playwright Katie Cappiello.

Cast member Joseph Fiennes, who plays Commander Fred Waterford, behind the scenes filming 'Hope Lives in Every Name'

Adapted from the best-selling novel by Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale is a dystopian near-future portrayal of life in the United States after the overthrow of democracy by patriarchal religious extremists.

Under this new fascist system, named the Republic of Gilead, human rights are severely restricted and women have become state property. As part of a fundamentalist ‘return to traditional values' and against a backdrop of environmental catastrophe linked to soaring infertility rates, fertile women are forced into sexual slavery as ‘handmaids’ who are ritually raped to provide babies for the ruling class.

Each handmaid is stripped of her name, and prescribed a new name relating to the man she serves, illustrating she no longer has her own identity.

Despite being violated and controlled, hope stems from how the female protagonists find strength from within, and one other, to challenge Gilead’s absolute authority over them and their bodies.

An essential first step to addressing such injustice is equality under the law. Equality Now’s international network of lawyers, activists and supporters use laws to protect and promote women’s rights globally, and to hold governments to account over ending legal inequality, sex trafficking, sexual violence and harmful practices including female genital mutilation and child marriage.

Cast members Samira Wiley, Madeline Brewer and Amanda Brugel with Yasmeen Hassan from Equality Now

“It was a natural partnership,” Yasmeen Hassan, global executive director of Equality Now, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“This is Margaret Atwood’s so-called fiction but it’s really not. It’s a fiction that closer to reality than most people think ... We have cases on all the issues that are shown in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ in real time.”

Author Margaret Atwood tweeted @MargaretAtwood:

This is not fiction. This is not @HandmaidsOnHulu. These are real stories from real women. Survivors of sexual violence, FGM, forced marriage & sex trafficking. They’ve given their names. Keep hope alive by giving yours. #HopeLivesInEveryName @equalitynow https://p2a.co/XioyGy3

Warren Littlefield, Executive Producer of The Handmaid’s Tale, says: “We are honored to partner with Equality Now, to help raise awareness of the vital work they do for women and girls around the world."

“Their efforts of addressing and helping correct inequality and injustice where it exists for girls and women especially resonates with the message of our show, and we are proud to be part of this campaign.”

Warren Littlefield, Executive Producer of The Handmaid’s Tale, at the launch of Hope Lives in Every Name

“This partnership couldn’t be more timely as we seek to protect hard-won gender rights already enshrined in law and continue making advances towards a more equal world", explains Yasmeen Hassan,

“Each of us can make a difference by taking a stand. Hope lives in every name and we invite everyone to give theirs in support of justice for women and girls.”

Click GIVE YOUR NAME in support of equal rights for women and girls around the world.

For details of Equality Now's current campaigns, please visit www.equalitynow.organd find us on Facebook @equalitynoworg and Twitter @equalitynow

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