I have already written a few articles about Saudi Arabia, and today I am sharing with you the first anti-domestic violence ad ever in this country governed by Sharia Law. It is a real important step forward for the protection of women in Saudi Arabia. Let’s hope that it is only a start.
The Kingdom of Saudia Arabia has launched its first campaign against violence towards women. A simple advertisement : a woman wearing the hijab, we only see her eyes, one is blackened and bloody. The slogan is direct: “Some things can’t be covered – fighting women’s abuse together.”
Backed by the King Khalid Charitable Foundation, he explains on his website that ” The phenomenon of battered women in Saudi Arabia is much greater than is apparent on the surface. It is a phenomenon found in the dark. We want to achieve justice for all women and children exposed to abuse in all parts of the Kingdom.” This first advert must encourage first of all Saudis to report cases of violences in Saudi Arabia.
It’s a real progress in a country where women are almost non-existent as they cannot do anything without the permission of a male relative because of Sharia law.
“The King Khalid Foundation is also working on further projects to reduce victimisation, effectively dealing with violence and abuse in order to provide further legal protection for women and children. Last Year, the Foundation also held programmes and training for women, which focussed on empowerment, management and active participation in development.” (Source : Blessed Islam)
The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Report in 2012 ranked Saudi Arabia 131st out of 134 countries for gender equality. So there are still a lot of work to undertake. But we all hope that this campaign will start to smooth the mindset for positive change.
“Today violence against women is increasingly recognized for what it is: a threat to Democracy, a barrier to lasting peace, a burden on national economies, and an appalling Human rights violation.” Michelle Bachelet
November 25th stands for the International day for the elimination of violence towards Women. Before starting my article that deals with the greatest international campaigns around the world against violence towards women, please let us have a look at the annual report (2011) of the United Nations Trust Fund to end violence against women.
A very touching story from a service provider in the dominican republic who participated in colectiva mujer y salud sensitization training: “As far as the staff is concerned, we are now much more sensitive… I used to say ‘if she was done over, she must have deserved it. It’s terrible, I know, but I said it…now I am more aware and I identify with these people who have suffered…now I say nothing justifies this woman having been treated that way.”
But please do not forget that fighting for the end of violence towards women is not ONE day per year but EVERYDAY, all together, men, women, girls, boys… all together we are stronger !
After a great deal of research and holding personal interviews with Japanese women, it appears that the current situation in Japan for women is very complex. Three key aspects seem to be important to come to terms with in order to understand the condition of Japanese woman: work, contraception and domestic violence.
First of all, the situation of women has improved since the end of World War II, mainly due to equality within the education system. Consequently, more and more highly educated women have worked and become more financially independent than was the case before the war. It appears as well that there is a correlation between working and women getting married later and having fewer children.
In 1985, Japan adopted the Equal Employment Opportunity Law that prohibits gender discrimination in respect to recruitment, hiring, promotion, training, and job assignment. However despite that law, the professional reality for women has continued to be such that it is very hard for them to have both a work life and a private life (husband and children). “Japanese work customs make it almost impossible for women to have both a family and a career,” said a Japanese women employee in an article issued in the New York Times in 2007 (Career Women in Japan Find a Blocked Path). Moreover they do not have access to high and managerial positions. By 2005, only 10.1% of women have a management job in Japanese companies and governement according to the International Labor Organization (ILO), a United Nations agency. In contrast, 42.5% of managerial jobs in the United States are held by women.
Another study made in 2009 by Catalyst shows that in 2007, Women in Japan earned only 65.3% of men’s earnings at the same positions. (ILO source). The labour ethic in Japan is known around the world to be very intense and hard-working. Therefore if a company expects its employees to work 15 hours a day, it is impossible for women to lead both a work life and a family life. As a result, Japan ranks as the most unequal of the world’s rich countries according to the United Nations Development Program’s “gender empowerment measure,” with a 38th place, just above Bangladesh and far below European countries or the United States (Women’s Empowerment: Measuring the Global Gender Gap). Another women, a trained engineer points out that “I still have to prove all the time that a woman can be president”. Thus it appears that the situation is very hard for these women who want to work and reach high positions to think about marriage or to have and raise children.
Whereas the oral contraceptive pill has been allowed and commercialised for decades in Western countries, Japan legalized it in June 1999, only twelve years ago. It may seem surprising from such a modern and industrialized country. Though, despite this new method of contraception in Japan, only 1.3 percent of the 28 million Japanese females between 15 and 49 years old take advantage of the availability of this technology, compared with 15.6 percent in the United States, according to the United Nations (Japanese women shun birth control pill). Conservatism and fear for their health (weight gain, infertility) look to be some of the explanations for the recalcitrance of Japanese women to take the pill. On the other hand, condoms are the leading method of birth control, as 80% of women say they give prevalence to condoms. And some doctors explain that if more women go on the pill, the percentage of HIV-positive patients might increase, as they will stop using condoms.
Domestic violence is a serious issue in Japan. In 1998, a survey conducted by the Prime Minister’s Office showed that one third of Japanese women had experienced domestic violence in their lives. Therefore in 2001, a law came into effect to punish abusive husbands. However in spite of that law, domestic violence in Japan increased 11.7 % in 2009 to 28,158 reported cases in that year (Domestic violence in Japan hits record high in 2009). Unfortunately, most women beaten by their husbands feel too weak to leave their home, either because they do not have economic power, or because they still live in a very conservative house.
An Al Jazeera’s documentary from Tokyo on the women who are speaking out about the problem:
Japanese women still live within an oppressive society. As it was shown in this article, women still suffer from domestic violence, and keep trying to reach managerial positions at work and raise a family at the same time. They try to be a good wife and a good mother. However regarding the domestic violence, more and more women have started denouncing their husbands or partners and make domestic violence a public issue and not the shameful issue it used to be. Besides, women have begun to live their lives as they wish in a independent and free way by affirming their own rights. Japan still needs to raise public awareness of the concept of equality of men and women in order to move towards better conditions for women.
En marzo 2011, fue lanzada una campaña muy especial y única sobre la violencia hacia las mujeres en Argentina. La ministra de Desarrollo Social, Alicia Kirchner lanzó una campaña para luchar contra la violencia hacia las mujeres y el machismo en Argentina. La campaña “260 hombres contra el machismo” recuerda las 260 mujeres que murieron de la violencia de un hombre. Los hombres son actores para denunciar sus propios comportamientos machistas y sobretodo para que todos los hombres de la sociedad argentina tomen conciencia del machismo cultural y de la violencia de género.
Entonces, sobre la fotografia de la campaña, cada hombre tiene una pancarta con el nombre de una mujer que murió en 2010 y con este mensaje “¡BASTA DE VIOLENCIA CONTRA LAS MUJERES! Si los hombres no nos comprometemos en esta lucha junto a las mujeres, por acción u omisión, somos cómplices de los agresores.” Como lo explica Alicia Kirchner, hay que sensibilizar sobre la temática y juntar fuerzas para eliminar la violencia. No solo las mujeres deben luchar, sinó que también los hombres. Los hombres pueden cambiar la mentalidad de estos hombres que golpean a sus mujeres. Creo que la implicación de los hombres en la lucha contra la violencia hacia las mujeres puede llegar a una nueva toma de conciencia por parte los hombres aún muy machistas.
In March 2011, the Minister of Social Development Alicia Kirchner launched a unique campaign to fight against violence towards women in Argentina. The name of the campaign is “260 Hombres contra el Machismo”: “260 Men against Machismo”. 260 men were chosen to represent the 260 women killed by domestic violence in 2010. In this way, it is an excellent method to comunicate through the denunciation of men violence against women. As Alicia Kirchner points out, it is time to gather women and men to deal with an issue that concerns both women and men. Furthermore the main message of the men taking part in this campaign is that if men do not actively fight violence against women, they are a party to it.