Violence against women and girls is one of the most widespread and devastating human rights violations in the world today. MENA society and the state religion look the other way when a man harasses a girl on the street or a husband abuses his wife and children, or—as in Ma’ab’s case—a father imposes the ultimate punishment for a crime of “honor” when, in fact, the child had committed no crime at all. Despite evidence of Ma’ab’s innocence, her father tortured her, shot her, and threw her over a cliff.
Ma’ab’s father and other perpetrators know that their actions are accepted—even condoned—by the culture. Because women are considered to be of lower status and worth than men, these husbands are not likely to be punished for keeping control over their families.
A United Nations report covering 87 countries over a period of 11 years found that 19 percent of women between 15 and 49 years of age claim to have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner in the 12 months prior to the survey. In another study covering 45 countries, only about half of women between the ages of 15 and 49 years of age who are married or in a relationship make their own decisions about consensual sexual relations. The brutal and harmful practice of female genital mutilation/cutting has declined somewhat over the last decade but survey data from 2015 indicate that more than one in three girls between the ages of 15 and 19 have undergone this violent procedure.
In 1999, the United Nations designated November 25 to be International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Here are a few reasons why:
- Violence against women is a human rights violation.
- Violence against women is a consequence of discrimination against women, in law and also in practice, and of persisting inequalities between men and women.
- Violence against women impacts on, and impedes, progress in many areas, including poverty eradication and combating HIV/AIDS.
- Violence against women and girls is not inevitable. Prevention is possible and essential.
- Violence against women continues to be a global pandemic.
Several SAT-7 programs present stories of women who were victims of sexual or physical violence or other acts of discrimination and how they sought help. Because I am a Woman is a documentary-style show that is investigating some of the most controversial and shocking issues that affect women in the Arab world. It takes a hard-hitting, factual approach featuring statistics and expert analysis as well as covering real-life stories. Religious leaders are invited to give their perspective on the topic of the day.
The program’s producer/presenter Julie Nakouzi says, “Because I am a Woman represents the painful reality but will also send a message of hope for a solution. We won’t portray women as victims but we will support a victim wherever she is, raising the voice of truth above every lie.”
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© SAT-7 WOMEN FOR MIDDLE EAST HOPE 2017