by James Bawden
That’s quite a provocative title for a new series–Sex Scandals In Religion –but it certainly is unlike any of the sleazy Reality TV offerings around these days.
In fact the series probably wouldn’t have made it to Vision TV except for a change in management.
This Canadian made series doesn’t even focus on the sex scandals inside the Catholic Church.
Instead, the first episode is a thoughtful and well researched look at how the ongoing Islamic Revolution in Iran has turned against the people to use rape as a way of stifling dissidents.
Robin Benger wrote and directed this report which uses the testimony of two victims, a man and a woman, to recount some pretty horrific tales of the way gangs of fundamentalists are hitting back at dissent.
The editing and camerawork are seamless and this up to the standards of 60 Minutes in its use of witnesses and critics of the regime. Yes, there are some dramatizations which I usually do not like but here are suited to the material and definitely needed.
Giving us the overall perspective is American reporter Scott Petersonof the Christan Science Monitor who has his own archive of incidents as well as photographic records of the escalating sexual violence which at first seems extremely bizarre given the usual prudish sexual standards of the ayatollas who rule Iran.
the episode’s title In The Name Of The Ayatollah says it all.
The late time period may indeed seem odd but the evidence put before viewers is shocking and very adult –it runs at 10:30 but that means not everyone will remember to watch it so late.
Next week’s episode, The Wall Of Silence, looks at cases of sexual misconduct by New York rabbis with trusting school children the targets.
The focus here is largely on Williamsburg in Brooklyn where one young man tries to fight off the phantoms of incidents where he was molested by his rabbi at school. His decision to come forward was viciously attacked by the religious community but in a rare display of courage he continues his fight for justice.
Therapists and religious scholars talk about being attacked when they tried to help and try to explain why a community would feel so besieged by these accusations which almost certainly are true.
This episode is completely different than the first and yet it disturbed me more because it took place in a seemingly free and open society.
Episode 2 runs next Monday, May 16, again at 10:30 p.m.
Sex Scandals In Religion was made by Cogent/Bender Productions for Vision TV. Peter Kavanaugh is the editorial director and Christopher Sumpton and Robin Benger are the producers.
I was left wanting even more information, the effect of a truly well made production.
SEX SCANDALS IN RELIGION PREMIERES ON VISION TV MOND. MAY 9 AT 10:30 P.M.
MY RATING: ****.