Your husband beat you up? No worries, now you can cover it up with makeup

Published: December 4, 2016
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Moroccan TV show recently taught women how to cover up bruises they got as a result of domestic violence. After a lot of hue and cry, the video was removed but it still sparked outrage on social media, and Moroccan rights groups were extremely vocal about insisting that the show be cancelled completely.

But let’s take a step back, shall we. Let’s go back to the moment the producer and the team of that show actually decided that this feather-brained idea would be a great seller. Let’s go back to the moment where everyone said,

“Hey, you know what would be fantastic? If all those women who got battered by their husbands actually figured out which shade of foundation would be perfect to hide those tell-tale black and blue marks!”

In this moment, the moment where they approve this segment, you see what’s really wrong with how society and media looks at domestic violence. It’s not just Morocco, every other day, Pakistani dramas or TV shows often condone this type of behaviour where heroines are often seen accepting their fates and are shown ‘compromising’ even though the husband is a complete jerk.

What’s wrong is how domestic violence is almost acceptable in our society, to the point that the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) issued the famous “it is permissible to lightly beat you defying wife” statement. In another bizarre report, 53% of teenage women in Pakistan responded that if a wife refused her husband sex, he is rightfully allowed to physically assault her. 63% people responded, in another poll, that a boy’s education is more important than a girl’s.

Why is this last poll important?

Because it elaborates just how skewed our priorities are about reducing gender bias – it’s skewed to the point of harming our women and girls and how they are framing their opinions. Girls grow up thinking and learning that they are second-grade citizens in the world, they are told that their education is not as important as their brothers’. That they owe their husbands sex even if they do not love or want them. They are told that if they disobey, it’s appropriate if they are thrashed – they were probably asking for it.

Just within the time period of July through September, Punjab Gender Parity report stated that incidents of torture against women were on the rise by 20%. This is despite the fact that the Punjab assembly passed the landmark bill the same year, calling to an end to violence against women. Then what’s going on? Why are the cases of abuse still on the rise? Why hasn’t this bill deterred men from hitting, maiming, raping, killing, stoning, and bludgeoning women?

Because the truth is, like those oblivious producers of that Moroccan TV channel, the average person, even in Pakistan, has little to no idea that domestic violence is not acceptable. They would make jokes about it, make light of it. A few days ago, I came across a picture of some male model tightly gripping a female model’s wrist that in no way looked consensual at a fashion show. In our dramas, films, novels and various entertainment scopes, the girl who bravely faces her husband’s misdemeanour or abuse is shown as a heroine and ‘responsible’. Women who tolerate their husbands’ abuse are considered courageous – very few plots expand on how a man who is abusive and entitled is a reflection of almost every other man in our society. Very rarely does this dynamic get explored – what sells more is the damsel in distress, the valiant heroine who accepts her fate and tries to do the best she can.

The culture of accepting domestic violence and the tradition of silencing the victim is what causes stupid media antics such as these. These are simply a reflection of what the people are really thinking, and the people have internalised misogyny to a very large extent. When a woman speaks out against abuse, she is vilified by the society, her peers and the criminal justice system. And instead of changing or challenging the status quo, the media and the populace just becomes hell bent on justifying and rationalising the failure of our society in protecting its women.

Mahwash.Badar.

Mahwash Badar

The author is a clinical psychologist, a mum to two boys and permanently in a state of flux. She tweets @mahwashajaz_ (twitter.com/mahwashajaz_)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Omer Shoaib Waqar

    what a disgusting choice of title.
    Reporting on garbage news, is not journalism, its promoting negativity.
    trust the Express Tribune to find negative articles from around the world.
    nothing ever to lift your Nation.
    Bravo !!!!Recommend

  • MR.X

    This feminist writers is always trying to find reason to bash men. Feminist promote man-hate.Lightly beating is allowed in islam from hadith in ibn-e-majah as i recall it and verse number 34 from surah Nisa. She should find another religion if she dosent like it.Recommend

  • Fatima Jabeen

    Shame…report the abuse not cover it upRecommend

  • stevenson

    You have to understand why this author celebrates negativity and it will all make sense. There are many genuine social activists who are actively working for women’s rights to prevent the abuses that women endure in Muslim societies – even among expatriate Muslim populations in Western countries. Everyone knows it is wrong and real people are working to stamp it out. The writer of this blog is on record for saying she is against the existence of Pakistan, how her family made a mistake to move there from India and how Jinnah erred. In a free country like Pakistan with a free media, she is allowed to voice her views but we also have the right to point out her real agenda which is to always speak badly against Pakistani society – even when an article like this is from Morocco !This is her real angle so you are right on, she does not want to lift the nation or work constructively to improve things like countless selfless Pakistani men and women who advocate social challenges. We want to put some teeth in the laws that prosecute anyone who harms women and children. The author here is trying to put down Muslim society and Pakistan in particular to advance her anti Pakistan agenda. What she neglects to mention is that the daily rapes and abuse of women is far worse in the India she wishes her family never left. Does she feel the same outrage about the plight of women there? Shouldn’t she also work to stop the much greater abuse of women there in India?Recommend

  • vinsin

    Isnt Pakistan created for this? Isnt Jinnah said “Islam is in Danger” on implementation of women rights?Recommend

  • Dan Shanks

    Feminists have destroyed every society. Western societies are a complete disaster as far as traditional family values are concerned. Thanks to these crazy feminists, now they are allowing gay marriages in the West, where Men marrying Men and Women marrying Women, and even gay divorce is also now on the rise.. ha ha… all thanks to these same wonderful feminist.. No thank you. We like our society the way it is. Recommend

  • Dan Shanks

    You worry about your garbage hole india, where women are raped left and right, every second.Recommend

  • Grace

    The issue of violence against women, especially domestic violence is again in the news in Canada and it crosses all economic groups and ethnic groups. This week a neurosurgeon in Canada whose background is wealthy,Gujrati, Indian, Ismaili killed his white physician wife when she planned to divorce and leave him. Read about the arrest of Dr. Shamji whose wife’s battered and lifeless body was found stuffed in a suitcase and dumped near a bridge. Women all over the world need to stand against domestic violence everywhere and women should be helped to leave abusive relationships without fear.Recommend

  • farhan

    the fun fact is .. Women are completely ignoring this fact. there is dramatic increase in divorce rate etc. They are illogical and emotional thus can be easily brainwashed by the media. They always assume that men are guilty and blame them for nearly everything. Recommend

  • MR.X

    They will somehow find a way to blame men about this.Recommend

  • Zarrar Akhtar

    You’re right stevenson. She is just using this title to abuse Pakistani men and Pakistani nation. Labeling Pakistan as an ignorant society, completely ignoring the upright men and women working together to hold this society together.Recommend

  • Zarrar Akhtar

    you don’t need to spread more hatred against Pakistan. As you can see the author of this article has already tried her best. keep your concerns limited to LOC and women rapes in India.Recommend

  • Zarrar Akhtar

    Another religion, another country, another man, another everything. She is the kind of rebellious woman that is working very hard day and night to brainwash common Pakistani woman.Recommend

  • MR.X

    they live in fairyland where ponies exist. Have unrealistic expectationsRecommend

  • MR.X

    NGOs also funneling money through the westRecommend