Don’t cover violence, report it!
With Covering Up, LAU student wins the Online Video Competition organized for the international campaign 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence.
Two bruised hands hold a broken frame, put it aside and then calmly start what seems to be an everyday makeup routine, stained with blood. “Hiding won’t help,” the message appears, “Report Violence!”
The 30-second video directed by Kourken Papazian, a first year student in TV/Film at LAU, is the winner of an online video competition organized by LAU’s Institute for Women’s Studies in the Arab World (IWSAW) in collaboration with ESCWA Centre for Women, the UN Women regional office for the Arab States and ABAAD-Resource Centre for Gender Equality and within the framework of the “16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign”.
Papazian’s message is simple and straight forward: “By covering their bruises, women are keeping the issue taboo. They are hiding it, while reporting violence is the only way to stop it.”
For Pedro Muñoz Alonso, associate social affairs officer at ESCWA Centre for Women, the strength of the video lies in the fact that it conveys a compelling message without being explicitly violent. “The video does not show a single act of violence and yet is very powerful, which reflects its creativity. It is also very relevant to the situation in the region,” he adds.
In countries where many forms of gender-based violence are not considered crimes, reporting cases of violence remains taboo. “One of the main challenges we have to face is that few women report such acts of violence,” Alonso explains. “In fact, this video could not be more timely.”
At the end of November, a state-owned Moroccan channel raised controversy among activists in the country and then worldwide after hosting a “bruises makeup artist” who showed women how to cover the “signs of beatings” to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
According to Papazian, survivors should be able to share their experience and receive appropriate care and support. He continues: “We have to encourage them to speak. They should not be afraid of the stigma, as this is the only way for them to liberate themselves. This is the only way to put an end to this unacceptable violence.”
While the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women in 1993, one in three women still experience physical and/or sexual violence worldwide, UN Women reports. The figure goes up to 70 per cent in some national studies. The agency also estimates that of all the women who were the victims of homicide globally in 2012, almost half were killed by intimate partners or family members.
“[Papazian‘s] video seeks to create a call to action, promoting survivors’ rights to speak out, seek help, receive support and combat stigma,” says Lina Abirafeh, director of IWSAW which has been organizing many activities in conjunction with student clubs, and local and international organizations, within the framework of the 16 Days of Activism and all year long.
“November is a critical month for all of us―academics and activists, policymakers and practitioners―because every year we conduct this worldwide campaign which aims to raise awareness of the negative impact of violence against women, and serves to remind us all that, every day, we should commit to individual and collective action to end this abuse!”
The four partners are hosting a closed panel discussion on “Estimating the cost of violence against women in the Arab region” moderated by Lina Abirafeh on Friday, December 9 at ESCWA.
The 16 Days of Activism campaign begins on the International Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women, 25 November, and ends on International Human Rights Day, 10 December,. This year’s theme is Make Education Safe for All.