Monday, March 9, 2015

Al Jazeera English: Highlighting challenges women still face

To honor Women's History Month, Al Jazeera has broadcast a series of videos covering the challenges women face still today in the 21st century. The network first aired the stories of three Muslim women rappers who despite their growing fan base still find themselves having to justify their religious beliefs against their passion for music and public performances. Then there is the documentary out covering the rape and murder of the young woman from India that has been banned in the country. The documentary is a damning exposure into the primitive and traditional biases many men still hold against women, from the rapist who blames the young woman for her brutal rape by resisting the assault and the government official who blames the producer for creating the documentary. Viewers are then taken to the rural town of Colombia, South Carolina, where two women are killed in a domestic violence homicide by their partners.

All three videos address what is still prevalent in the mindset of observers to the harassment women still face and their abusers. Much of what is shared are stereotypes and false perceptions of why the abused women either brought on their mistreatment or why they allowed it.

In the videos discussing the women of Colombia, South Carolina, what stands out the most is the initial blame society still places on why women would stay with abusive men. One officer referred to it as the Wall of Silence, referring to how many women refuse to discuss their abuse. But shame is actually behind that silence, an obstacle that forces women of domestic abuse to blame themselves for their situations. Another misperception was mentioned by family members of the second victim, who believed domestic violence continues because observers are made to feel intrusive if they discuss any signs of abuse. What frustrates many observers, whether friends or family, is why the victims return to abusive partners. What is not addressed in the video is the psychological and emotional abuse that accompanies the physical abuse. These are cycles of deep manipulations the victims are lured into and struggle with against their will.

A common thread that runs across all three segments is how grossly ingrained and perpetuated violence against women is across all cultures. While these women's lives span three different continents, their turmoil and pain are universal, and a stark reality to the challenges they share with millions of women around the world.

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