2M TV runs item to mark International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women
It prompts a furious response from activists, who said it normalizes violence
To help women battling domestic violence, a Moroccan TV channel offered some advice: Cover your bruises with makeup.
The state-owned 2M TV caused controversy with its segment on Wednesday showing a makeup artist covering blue “bruises” on the eyes and cheeks of a model.
“It’s a painful and sorrowful topic, but on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, we will show you the makeup [to cover the signs] of beatings,” said the smiling artist. “It is a topic we lack the courage to discuss.”
The segment, which apparently also used makeup to create the “bruise,” angered activists, who said it normalized domestic violence.
Activists also created a petition on the change.org website calling for punitive measures against the morning show.
“Do not cover domestic violence with makeup, condemn the aggressor,” said the petition, posted by a group calling themselves Concerned Moroccan Citizens.
“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,” they added.
They encouraged signatories to contact the High Authority of Audiovisual Communication, demanding it take action against 2M and “Sabahiyat.”
The channel apologized two days later, saying the segment was inappropriate, an editorial error of judgment and in violation of its policy of 27 years that advocated for women’s rights. It also removed the video clip from its website.
The apology did little to placate the outrage. Social media users continue to condemn the channel and the petition had attracted more than 2,000 signatures by Monday.
“The media attacks the core of all plans to combat violence against women,” Moroccan politician Saadiya Elbahi wrote on Facebook. “It normalizes violence against women, legitimizes it and covers it with makeup.”
Domestic violence is not a crime in Morocco and, according to a government survey conducted in 2009/10, two thirds of women had experienced physical, psychological, sexual or economic violence.
A draft bill criminalizing domestic violence was passed by the first chamber of parliament, the House of Representatives, in Morocco in July.
However, due to a general election last month, it has yet to be reviewed by the second chamber, the House of Councillors.
According to Rothna Begum, Middle East and North Africa women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch, the draft bill does not do enough to ensure victims will get the help they need from authorities.
“It is a step forward. It does provide for some protective measures but only where a victim has started a prosecution, and women often tend to drop prosecutions because of pressure from their families,” she said.
CNN contacted 2M TV and the High Authority of Audiovisual Communication. They did not immediately respond to a request for comment.