Belfast Telegraph

Eilis O'Hanlon: Why I find Game Of Thrones' Sophie Turner's cheap parting shot so galling

Sophie Turner who starred in Game Of Thrones
Sophie Turner who starred in Game Of Thrones
Eilis O'Hanlon

By Eilis O'Hanlon

There are many reasons to change the law on abortion in Northern Ireland, but the fact that some girl who appeared in Game Of Thrones is in high dudgeon about it isn't one of them.

"Luckily, we're moving on." That's how English actress Sophie Turner, whose character in the hit TV show ended up, ironically, as "Queen of the North", responded sniffily when asked about spending the best part of a decade filming in this part of the world where abortion remains illegal.

It's not just Northern Ireland that's earned her displeasure. The 23-year-old has joined a host of other famous Hollywood names in announcing a boycott of states in the USA, including Georgia, which have recently passed strict pro-life laws.

If only her high-minded principles extended to other areas of life. Last month, Sophie Turner went on holiday with her other half, pop star Joe Jonas, taking to social media to post pictures of herself relaxing in the sun by a private pool.

Well, why not? A girl's entitled to enjoy her success.

The only problem is that she chose to take this break in Mexico - a country where women are regularly arrested and prosecuted for procuring abortions, and where studies show that, even where abortion is meant to be legal, as in cases of rape, it's becoming ever harder to access, which is one reason why illegal abortion is still the fourth highest cause of maternal mortality.

The Mexican state where she went on holiday, Baja California, has the second highest rate of criminal investigations against women who've had abortions, according to human rights groups. It's also one of the states which protects life "from the moment of conception", reflecting the enduring strength of the Catholic Church in the country.

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Mexico, meanwhile, continues to be censured by Amnesty for jailing and torturing political dissidents. Enforced disappearances and extra judicial killings are "common", and the perpetrators "enjoy impunity".

The government refuses to publish figures for those killed in clashes with security military forces, and gender-based violence against women and girls remains "widespread".

Yet this is the place, out of the whole world, where Sophie Turner chose to sun herself in luxury resorts, and post snaps to her 13.4 million followers on Instagram, while taking a cheap parting shot at Northern Ireland for not being good enough.

None of this should come as a surprise. Celebrities have turned hypocrisy into an art form in recent years with their endless parade of "do as I say, not as I do" platitudes about everything from Brexit to global warming.

It's particularly galling, though, to hear Turner taking a pop at Northern Ireland, as if it's some benighted, backwards hell hole.

The Irish Republic has only had abortion on the statute books since January 1 this year, but is now treated sycophantically as if it was the most progressive nation on God's earth, a Shangri La of tenderness and tolerance.

Opinion polls show that people in Northern Ireland are every bit as compassionate about abortion as voters elsewhere on these islands, but we're repeatedly talked about as if we're savages who can only be saved from our own worst natures by the benevolent intervention of more enlightened outsiders.

In case the pampered millionaires haven't noticed, there are certain historical difficulties in Northern Ireland which have hampered the evolution of regular politics. Divisive issues such as abortion and same sex marriage will be resolved in time.

Until then, it's still a wild exaggeration to suggest that women here are labouring under dark medieval oppression. Some of us are even allowed to vote these days, you know.

It certainly says a lot about these silly, self-absorbed superstars that there wasn't a peep out of most of them when journalist Lyra McKee was shot dead.

They probably decided that they didn't know enough about the situation to blunder in without thinking.

It's just a pity they don't do the same when it comes to other social problems that they clearly don't understand either.

Belfast Telegraph

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