London - A married woman sits in a prison cell in Sudan with her newborn baby, condemned to death simply for being a Christian.
In India, teenage girls from a poor village are gang raped, then strung up to die on a tree. In Pakistan, a woman is stoned to death in full view of the public by her own family.
We all agree that these are horrific acts against innocent women, but in the world of showbusiness, horror can take on a whole new meaning.
Actress Charlize Theron is no stranger to real violence - as a child, she witnessed her mother kill her alcoholic dad after years of abuse. She has campaigned for the United Nations on behalf of rape victims as a “messenger of peace”.
In London last week, staying at Claridge’s with her boyfriend, actor and director Sean Penn, Charlize was giving interviews promoting her latest film, a comedy Western.
Asked if she ever Googled herself, she replied: “I don’t do that. When you start living in that world, and doing that, you start, I guess, feeling raped.
“When it comes to your son and your private life… some people might relish in all of that stuff… but there are certain things in my life that I think of as very sacred and I’m very protective over them.”
“That doesn’t mean that I always win that war, but as long as I don’t have to see that stuff or read that stuff or hear that stuff, then I can live with my head in a clear space.”
Using the word rape to describe a photo or story in the press you don’t like is plainly ridiculous and yet movie stars - who need us to buy tickets to keep their industry in business - plainly feel they are a special case.
Kristen Stewart, the star of the Twilight movies, once said paparazzi photos taken of her were like “looking at someone being raped” - but she later apologised.
Gwyneth Paltrow is another star who believes she’s fighting a bitter battle against the media. She says negative remarks rain down on her like bullets: “It’s almost like how, in war, you go through this bloody dehumanising thing.”
What does Gwyneth know about real combat?
Cindy McCain, married to Vietnam veteran and former Presidential candidate John McCain, has two sons serving in the US army. She tweeted “what a joke!” and suggested that Paltrow might like to go on patrol with some real soldiers.
It’s become a badge of honour to say you don’t read newspapers or Google yourself.
I believe in a free press, warts and all. If someone slags me off on Twitter, I reply and thank them for their “constructive” comments.
If you are a public figure, expect people to like and loathe you in equal measure. But don’t fall into the trap of Gwyneth and Charlize and think that you’re some kind of victim.
Because the woman nursing her baby in that prison cell in Sudan is a true victim - and it is the power of a free press and unfettered social media that will eventually free her.- Daily Mail