Moroccan TV programme on battered women provokes outcry

Sunday 04/12/2016
A 2012 file picture shows Moroccan women protesting against all forms of violence against women during a demonstration in the Moroccan city of Rabat. (AFP)

Casablanca - Moroccan civil society and social media us­ers condemned part of a television broad­cast that showed how to use make-up to hide the bruises of battered women.
The sequence, which was aired by the majority state-owned net­work 2M on a programme dedicated to women, showed how to use the right make-up to camouflage bruis­es.
The channel’s management is­sued a statement two days after the programme aired calling the broad­cast sequence “completely inappro­priate” and offered its “most sincere apologies for this error, given the sensitivity and seriousness of the subject” after the channel faced a barrage of criticism.
“We did not expect 2M to broad­cast such a sequence, especially with the taxpayers’ money. It was unethical and inhuman,” said Saida Idrissi, president of the Democratic Association of Moroccan Women (ADFM).
ADFM sent a letter to the High Au­thority of Audiovisual Communica­tion (HACA) urging it to take strong measures against those responsible for the broadcast of what Idrissi called a “humiliating sequence”.
“I haven’t seen anyone judging the women who have been abused. We’re actually disgusted that these techniques were specifically said to be for covering up bruises from domestic violence. I’m a survivor of domestic violence and I’m dis­gusted by this,” said one person on Facebook.
“It’s not empowering women! It’s telling them they will be beaten for the rest of their lives and they must not humiliate their husband by going out in public with bruises,” stressed another social media user.
More than two-thirds of women in Morocco said that they had been physically abused, according to the annual report of the National Obser­vatory of Violence Against Women released in July.
A total of 13,445 women in cities were victims of physical violence in 2014, with 7,962 married women, 3,444 unmarried women and 2,039 divorced women. Housewives rep­resented 53.8% of all victims com­pared to 54.4% in 2013.
The report was based on statistics from institutions such as the Minis­tries of Health and Justice, the Na­tional Security Directorate (DGSN) and the Royal Gendarmerie.
Sexual violence constitutes 9% of all types of violence suffered by Moroccan women, the report said. More than 60% of the cases of sexual violence were committed against women who were 30 years old or younger, 31% against women aged 31-45 and 7.3% against older women.
The National Observatory of Vio­lence Against Women said that sin­gle women were the most affected by this type of violence with 53.6% of cases of sexual violence commit­ted against them. Another 22.9% was against divorced women and 20.1% against married women.
“Unfortunately, violence against women is on the rise in Morocco. We don’t have strong law that pro­tects women against this phenom­enon,” Idrissi said.
A draft law adopted in July by par­liament failed to integrate amend­ments proposed by civil society. It is awaiting approval of the House of Councillors.
“When we read the content of the draft law 103-13, we find out that it lacks a preamble. It does not specifi­cally define what type of violence it should treat,” Idrissi said, adding that some categories of women, such as women with special needs and single mothers, are not covered by the law.
Idrissi criticised the Islamist-led government for not showing the political will to seriously tackle the issue and enforce the constitutional amendments, including questions of equality and violence.
“A conservative government will never go ahead with the gender equality and promotion of the de­fence of women’s rights,” she said.
The UN Women, a gender equal­ity and empowerment organisation, called on the newly elected House of Representatives to accelerate adoption of legislation, including draft bill 103-13, on violence against women, “to bring it into line with international standards and provide multi-sectoral and effective protec­tion for all women in all situations of violence”.
The Belgian Development Coop­eration provided funding of $1.32 million to a UN project to support Moroccan efforts to combat vio­lence against women.
The Supporting the Fight Against Violence Against Women in Morocco and the Availability and Quality of Service project, which seeks to fo­cus on prevention, awareness-rais­ing and care, is to be implemented under the aegis of the Ministry of Solidarity, Women, Family and So­cial Development and would in­volve national institutions and civil society organisations.
The Maghreb office of UN Women has launched a campaign called Orangez le monde (Orange the world) in association with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
Numerous events were planned for Morocco to raise awareness and end the violence that affects more than 6 million Moroccan women. As part of the campaign, several im­portant buildings in the Moroccan capital will be illuminated in orange — a colour that symbolises “a prom­ising, optimistic and non-violent future”.