‘EastEnders’ is to explore the subject of consent with a new rape storyline involving returnee Ruby Allen.
The BBC soap has been working with charity Rape Crisis on the plot, which sees the character sexually assaulted after returning to Walford.
While viewers will not see the attack, Ruby will confide in best friend Stacey Fowler about what happened at a party they both attended the night before.
As Stacey stands by Ruby, it soon becomes clear the perpetrator is telling a very different version of events, which raises a debate amongst the locals about consent.
Rape Crisis is keen to raise awareness of the complex issues surrounding sexual violence, with Yvonne Traynor, CEO Rape Crisis South London explaining: “It is so vital to the safety of men, women and children to understand sexual violence and not to make assumptions or believe the myths and stereotypes that are often portrayed.
″‘EastEnders’ have taken this responsibility very seriously and ensured that their portrayal of sexual violence has been thoroughly researched and is based on realism which is, sadly, so prevalent in our country today.”
It is not the first time the soap has tackled the issue of rape, but the show’s boss John Yorke has said he hopes the new plot will help “challenge the myths” around consent.
He said: “From the original story of Kathy and Willmott-Brown, to the abuse of Little Mo by her husband, Trevor, and Linda’s attack by Dean, ‘EastEnders’ has always been at the forefront of dealing with these topical and sensitive issues.
“Whilst this story centres round an unseen rape, its real focus will challenge the stereotyping and myths that can surround sexual violence and consent. As a subject, it’s difficult and incredibly moving but we hope that by ‘EastEnders’ tackling this issue we can raise awareness about an incredibly important issue.”
Actress Louisa Lytton, who plays Ruby, added: “As someone that has been part of ‘EastEnders’ before, and as a viewer of the show, I know the impact a storyline such as this can have and although it is a huge responsibility, I feel honoured to be part of something that, by working alongside Rape Crisis, we all hope can help end the many misconceptions surrounding sexual violence.”
It was announced earlier this year that Ruby would be returning to Albert Square after an absence of 12 years.
Louisa originally played the role of gangster Johnny Allen’s daughter from 2005 to 2006, and will arrive back in Walford later this month.