Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

International Woman’s Day: Keeping the Cause Alive | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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More often than not, rightfully deserving causes are converted into folkloric festivities. Last week marked the International Women’s day celebrations. Under this raised slogan, women were flooded with information and facts about their rights and the realities that they lived – matters that figures and day-to-day occurrences reveal are still retrogressive and have yet to witness any radical improvement.

Women still fall victim to discrimination and violence throughout the world. We should not overlook the fact that women in crises laden areas in the Arab world have become victims of conflicts and sometimes were even used as direct targets in these disputes.

The International Women’s Day has transformed to become a stop where real and painful atrocities are revealed, however they are exchanged in a hasty and fleeting manner during symposiums, meetings and seminars. Of course the women’s cause received a considerable amount of press and media coverage, but similarly it followed the same fleeting manner so that it did not seriously stop to consider the realities suffered by our societies.

One in five women is a victim of violence.

Our region suffers a considerable share of this reality.

It’s true that dealing with matters relating to violence against women is not a novel issue in the Arab media ¬– some attempts have even contributed to cracking the wall of silence that surrounds violence, domestic abuse and discrimination against women; however dealing with these issues does not get past overzealous discourse and chaotic instincts.

Women’s issues have become the title of a cause that is used to elicit sensationalism. Most of our media outlets are biased and tend to take sides when it comes to issues that are the crux of phobias.

Undoubtedly, prioritizing the ceremonial side of the International Women’s Day has emptied it of its significance and rendered the occasion more of a feast than an occasion to stop and ponder over the issues and crises facing women whether globally or regionally. The media outlets have only served to reinforce this celebratory trend through their neglect of the signs pointing towards the deteriorated circumstances that confront women. In times of crises, women are the first to be victimized to become the recipients of both direct and indirect consequences.

Women are raped when a group seeks to avenge itself on another. It is they who are subjected to violence in our patriarchal social system and the figures confirm these facts on every level on a global scale.

However, so as to avoid exaggerated overgeneralizations let us focus on a particular case: An example is the women in Palestinian society, both in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Figures reveal a massive rise in violence against women within the family and outside of it. It is a violence that sometimes can lead to death; something the Palestinian Authority has admitted its failure to remedy as a situation. Although it is a critical issue that is on a steady decline, still, it has failed to occupy the relevant space in the media and press coverage.

A prompt reply to this would be that the priority is given to covering the confrontation with Israel. It is a fact that the Israeli troops continue to practice violence against the Palestinian women, men and children, which is a matter that receives media coverage – but what of the massive numbers of pregnant Palestinian women who have either lost their lives or delivered on the Israeli barriers? How can we forget them?

However, the preoccupation with the Israeli conflict does not mean that the violence we commit should be overlooked or justified. If our media were to focus on the harshness of our societies and the deviant practices against women, it would not lead us astray from other major conflicts.