A round-up of what’s happening in the worlds of gender and sexuality.
Moroccan TV show gives tips on hiding bruises of domestic abuse with makeup
Dressed in a black t-shirt and a denim jacket and with long, black hair, a woman leans back on a make-up chair with her eyes firmly shut. Standing behind her is another woman with a wide smile, dressed in pink, and who is talking to the viewers of a daily Moroccan television show in Arabic. This woman – with a small, black mic pinned to her jacket – is presumably a makeup artist all set to provide a tutorial.
The only thing amiss here – which almost instantly grabs a viewer’s attention – is that the face of the woman leaning back on the chair is swollen and covered in dark black and blue bruises around her eyes and cheekbones. The segment being aired is not a run-of-the mill makeup tutorial, but a demonstration on how to hide outward signs of domestic abuse.
The segment that aired in the daily Moroccan programme on November 27 instructed viewers on how to use concealer to “camouflage the traces of violence against women,” The Guardian reported.
“After the beating, this part is still sensitive, so don’t press,” the host Lilia Mouline said in Arabic as she concealed the bruises around the woman’s right eye with makeup. “We hope these beauty tips will help you carry on with your daily life.”
The segment, which aired two days before the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, sparked immediate outrage on social media and according to the Washington Post prompted an apology from the channel.
Viewers took to Twitter to voice their criticism of the video saying that it was an attempt to encourage women to conceal domestic abuse instead of discouraging the individuals responsible for it.
— Dima Sarsour ديمة (@YasminWaQahwa) November 27, 2016
— Tariqa F. Tandon (@tariqaftandon) November 28, 2016
— Jonathan Moremi (@jonamorem) November 27, 2016
— Human Rights Watch (@hrw) November 28, 2016
An online petition titled ‘Don’t cover domestic violence with makeup!’ has gathered support from over 3,000 people and led to a demand for action against the television programme.
“As Moroccan women and as feminist activists in Morocco, and in the name of all Moroccan people, we denounce the message of normalisation with violence against women,” the petition read, according to the Washington Post. “Do not cover domestic violence with makeup, condemn the aggressor.”
The channel removed the video segment from its website and issued online and on-air apologies, the Telegraph reported. In a statement, the channel said the video was “completely inappropriate” and an “editorial error of judgment in view of the sensitivity and the gravity of the subject of violence against women.”
In Saudi Arabia, women are an untapped economic resource
According to the the World Economic Forum’s gender equality ranking, Saudi Arabia ranks 141 out of 144 countries, ahead of only Syria, Pakistan and Yemen.
According to a Reuters report, Saudi Arabia can do as much for its economy – and address the gender gap – by helping more women enter the workforce as it would if it were able to immediately and sustainably boost the price of a barrel of crude oil by a few dollars.
Even though the number of women graduation from universities has risen, several legal barriers – gender segregation and driving restrictions among them – stand in the way of them being able to gain adequate employment opportunities. The standing of women in society is a major contributing factor to them being an untapped economic resource.
There are massive economic benefits of bridging this gender gap, writes Andy Critchlow. According to a report by McKinsey Global Institute, the country could effectively increase its gross domestic product by at least $52 billion by 2025 if it achieved the same gender parity as its highest-ranked regional peer.
According to Critchlow, even though an overnight revolutionary change in the social standing of Saudi women is highly unlikely, there is still cause for hope since women have begun to fight against the subjugation.
Striking photo series addresses oppression against women
Joshi told The Guardian that the women in the photograph have been painted white in order to shift the focus from their physical traits, race or culture to their gender.
The series, titled ‘PRINTiED VIOLATION’, has 26 images and begins with a profile shot of just the face of a woman with her hair tied in a bun, lips tightly pursed and her gaze firmly fixed. The next is a shot of her arms tied behind her back by a black ribbon.
The photographer next moves on to a picture of a young girl with short blonde hair who is gazing straight ahead. What catches one by surprise is not the firm determination in her eyes, but a black print of a hand on her chest.
Another set of images is of a woman with her hands hanging by her side, lips pursed together, and eyes shut by a black ribbon. Another is of a woman staring into space with the black painted hand impression on her neck.
According to Joshi, the black paint and ribbon represent how the very cultures that “hold women hostage to purity standards, completely disregard the pain and suffering our society inflicts upon them.”
Through this evocative series, Joshi hopes to represent the many violations women suffer in their lifetime.
When it comes to bridging the gender gap, India has a long way to go
Marking a victory for the campaign for gender equality in places of worship, a group of women activists this week entered the sanctum sanctorum of Haji Ali Dargah and offered prayers, PTI reported.
Although, with this move, women have taken a step in the direction towards gender equality, the road that lies ahead is rather long.
An opinion column on Live Mint titled ‘Long road to gender equality in India,’ explores how gender budgeting has helped bridge the gender gap in the country, but women still need more economic freedom and better access to public goods.
According to the article, every year since 2005, the Indian budget has included a statement that lists schemes that are meant specifically for women and in the past ten years, 16 states have embraced gender budgeting. The states that have done so have also moved towards greater gender equality when measured in terms of female to male enrollment ratios at different levels of schooling.
Although gender budgeting has, according to empirical evidence gathered by International Monetary Fund, led to positive results, it alone is unlikely to solve gender inequality in the country.
The column points out that even though access to education for women has increased in India, women have increasingly stayed away from employment. The country has the lowest level of female participation in the labour force when compared to its regional counterparts and the percentage has steadily been on the decline.
A Hindustan Times report asserts that between 2004 and 2011 – when the Indian economy grew at a healthy average of about 7% – there was a decline in female participation in the country’s labour force from over 35% to 25%. According to New York Times, this decline has been linked with the age-old gender norms in India’s male-dominated society where women are seldom encouraged to seek jobs outside their homes.
Two other issues where women in the country are lagging behind are in terms of economic freedom and accessibility to public goods.
Although by definition public goods signify a nature of accessibility to the general public, yet, as the Live Mint column argues, the lack of certain core public goods such as safe streets or lack of clean drinking water are more likely to hurt the economic prospects of women more than men.
Addressing gender inequality in India is thus the need of the hour.
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