By Kimberly Zapata
Late last week, “Sabahiyat” — a Moroccan television show — aired an unlikely segment: a makeup tutorial intended to help women hide bruises and scars. Of course, that may not sound like a bad idea. (If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably got a few wicked wounds from childhood.) But the tutorial wasn’t designed to help women hide any old scars; in fact, according to The Guardian, the intention of the segment was to show women how to cover up bruises from domestic abuse in an effort to help women “carry on with [their] daily li[ves].”
‘After the beating, this part is still sensitive, so don’t press [hard],’ the host said in Arabic, according to the Washington Post. ‘Use foundation with yellow in it. If you use the white one, your red punch marks will always show.’
Deep breaths. I’m going to pause to compose my thoughts and take one long, deep breath.
Because the thing is, I understand the idea behind this and the sentiment. Helping women face the world after an attack — helping them feel somewhat human and put together and, perhaps, a little happier and healthier — isn’t bad. In theory. Unfortunately, to many, this segment appeared to be normalizing said violence, and that is a problem.
A huge problem.
— CaLi (@CurioGorilla) November 26, 2016
You see, domestic violence is a large scale issue in Morocco. According to The Advocates for Human Rights, a 2011 survey on violence against women “found that 55% of reported acts of violence experienced by women were perpetrated by husbands against wives, and that victims reported the violence in only 3% of cases.”
What’s more, currently there is “no provision of the Moroccan civil, penal, or family code [that] specifically prohibits domestic violence against women or provides for protective orders or other measures of support for abused women,” and this makes Channel 2M’s message all the more troublesome because instead of fighting for women and encouraging them to speak out — and get help — Channel 2M seems to be saying, “Shit happens. Husbands beat their wives. Husbands regularly beat their wives, but you can go about your day normally with these extra special makeup tricks.”
The good news — if it can be called that — is that most viewers reacted with outrage and disgust. Thousands have signed a Change.org petition asking Channel 2M to denounce the message and demand “sanctions” be taken against the program and the station.
A few days before the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, a show dedicated to women on the Moroccan public channel 2M aired on the November 23 a segment showing Moroccan women how to cover bruises from domestic violence. As Moroccan women and as feminist activists in Morocco, and in the name of all Moroccan people, we denounce the message of normalization with violence against women. We demand severe sanctions against this show, “Sabahiyat,” and the channel 2M.
Do not cover domestic violence with makeup, condemn the aggressor!
And while 2M has issued an apology and pulled the clip — which can still be found here — many believe the damage has already been done.
That said, you can fight back — we can all fight back — by speaking about domestic violence, by supporting and helping those who may be victims of domestic violence, and by standing up to those who still victim shame, i.e. “Oh, well she must have done something to deserve it. She ‘asked for it.’”
If you — or someone you know — needs help, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).
© 2016 Kimberly Zapata, as first published on Sammiches & Psych Meds