Be unashamed, be unapologetic - let's bring 'being brave' back into vogue!

Aren’t women perpetuating more abuse against themselves by hiding under make-up when abused? Why does the victim end up feeling more ashamed and apologetic than the perpetrator in our society?

Divya Nair Hinge | Posted on 29 Nov 2016
Domestic Abuse? Speak Up, Don't Hide! | Bonobology

Mira Soni revealed last week why she never talked about her abusive arranged marriage. “I come from a family where women are raised to be not just strong, but fierce. But […] I was expected to treat my husband as God, and it couldn’t be any less than that or there would be ‘consequences’,” she admitted. An abusive partner will never change and I'm not being taken seriously despite being cheated on and abused, some other victims of domestic violence confessed on our portal. Just as I was trying to understand why these fierce women took so long to seek help, allowing themselves to be abused for years, I chanced upon a video by a Moroccan TV channel 2M that thought the best way to deal with domestic violence was – make-up. Ironically, this show was being broadcast to mark the International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women.

Viewers insisted on benefits of make-up when one is not comfortable showing bruises, being questioned or having strangers point at them. Hiding it may not mean they didn’t fight it, they chorused. However, to me, hiding abuse under make-up says more about the victim’s shame rather than the perpetrator’s. Shame has always been known to perpetuate more abuse, and with this attitude, the only recourse left for women will be more layers of make-up over time.

Why a woman should conceal domestic abuse under layers of make-up and validate the violence being meted out to her, and why any country’s national television should endorse such a regressive attitude is still beyond my comprehension. I was reminded of an incident in the year 2013 when a Mumbai gang-rape victim wowed the entire nation with her courage when she walked out of the hospital with her face uncovered. 

She could have walked out with a veiled face and no questions asked; but by 'not' doing so, she showed valour and strength to shame the perpetrators instead. Similarly, the braver move for a domestic abuse victim would be to walk tall with that bruised face to the nearest police station and lodge a complaint against the abuser. Now, that I would have called, an apt touch of make-up to the woman's soul and spirit!  

Divya Nair Hinge

From the Editor’s Desk, Bonobology

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Comments : 10

Jess Sahi: I'm going to be a bit of a devil's advocate here and offer thoughts slightly differently. While I respect the sentiment and valour behind wanting to walk about with bruises on your body and face, I feel the viewpoint that covering up with make-up is in someway anti- that valour is a bit privileged. Seeking professional help, not covering up, voicing distaste and rebelling against family violence are in many ways a question of access, an urban reality. Im slightly uncomfortable in accepting that from covering bruises one 'perpetuates' violence. Surely there is more nuance to the act of perpetuating violence and to place the onus of 'shame' on women who choose to apply make-up so they can get through their days/life in general is a bit unfair, in my opinion. Of course, covering up any act of violence is not right - but aren't we all a sum of our contexts and results of our situations, many of which need the act of covering up (via makeup in this instance) however problematic that maybe. No offence meant.

Divya: Point noted! Thanks for sharing your views, Jess. Look forward to interacting more with you, even in the future. Always helps to have different perspectives :) Also, if you have personal narratives to share, please send it to us on bonobologyindia@gmail.com. We'll be looking forward to it. Cheers!

Himani Pande: This is such a beautiful article. So much strength to the battered women. Makes one take pride in dealing effectively with the perpetrators of violence. A woman has to stand up for herself if pushed against the wall. Hats off to the women who come out in the open and let others know that one can't turn a blind eye to this ignominious treatment. Women across the world are a strength to each other. Thanks for penning this down so beautifully and for pointing out the layered pain beneath the make up. Solutions follow awareness. Love and support to every such unsung heroine who has come out valiant knowing she deserved better. This very awareness that one deserves better and putting one's foot down to abuse is a moment of revolution. The pattern has to be broken. Strength comes from family and peer support but most importantly from within.

Divya: Well-said Himani. More power to such women! Glad you liked the piece. Thank you.

Mira: Ever since that video appeared on my facebook timeline.. I had, within myself, argued on both sides.. on "Hiding scars" I still dont have an answer to it. I sure hated the giggles.

Divya: I so agree to it, Mira. Wish the world could stop being so insensitive. But wouldn't 'hiding scars' only end up boosting the abuser's confidence? Bringing him to book will at least make him think a hundred times before he lifts a finger, the next time around. What do you think?

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