Controversial TV show Normalises Domestic Violence in Iran

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Iran’s state-TV aired an interview with a self-described abusive husband and his wife, where the man explained that despite 20 years of constant abuse on his part and 27 attempts by his wife to divorce him, the couple has stayed married.

A TV show called “Formula One” invited a man and woman to its studio last week, who spoke about their violent relationship with smiles on their faces.

At one point, the couple did divorce, but the husband said that they had only separated for 60 days while joking that they deserve a place on the list of Guinness World Records for the number of divorce requests they have made.

In any other TV show, a husband joking about beating his wife would be unthinkable and the host would condemn him, but not this one. When the husband admitted to beating his wife on their wedding night, the moderator laughs and plays it off as if the husband had merely lost his wedding ring.

The moderator even turns to the camera to confirm that the show was neither “promoting” domestic abuse, nor saying that what the husband did was wrong. Of course, violence against women doesn’t really have a middle ground. You either condemn it or you’re a terrible person.

The moderator even praised the couple for staying together despite the abuse.

As was obvious, the abusive husband was the one to speak the most with seemingly no remorse for beating his wife.

The couple’s two small children were also sitting in between them. They were all smiles and it was not clear how much they understood the discussion at hand.

The show had a clear message. It’s normal to beat your spouse and if she’s a “good” wife (like the one in the show) she’ll tolerate the abuse.

According to state-run media 66% of Iranian women have experienced violence at least once at the hands of their spouses. It’s important to note that most women do not file charges against their abusers in Iran so one could expect that the numbers are actually much higher.

The head of the women’s committee in Iran’s Parliament said that domestic violence was “pervasive” in Iran but that “few people paid attention to it”.

“Domestic violence is not clearly seen in society because unfortunately a woman who is subjected to such violence, rarely speaks out. This is why many women suffer from it,” Parvaneh Salahshouri added in comments carried by the state-run IRNA news agency in November 2017.

Shedding light on the injustice institutionalized in the Iranian regime’s penal code against women, the MP acknowledged that “if a woman makes a little mistake, it would cause great problems for her, subjecting her to violence”.

“However, when a man makes a huge mistake there is no violence against him,” she added.

Massumeh Ebetkar, the vice president for women’s and family issues in President Hassan Rohani’s cabinet, asked, via the banned messaging app Telegram, what the point what to this interview, except to normalise violence against women.

While Communications Minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi said: “There is no need to teach women to tolerate beatings to consolidate families.”

Parvaneh Mafi, the head of the women’s faction in the Iranian parliament, said that this broadcast promoted domestic violence and weakened women’s place in families.

Mafi asked, in a letter to state broadcasting director Ali Askari: “How would you feel if a man says with a laugh to the camera that he’s been beating his wife from the first day of their marriage while a woman who is sitting next to their daughters talks about multiple unsuccessful attempts at divorce?”

Of course, non-politicians were quick to condemn the programme as well.

Journalist Taraneh Baniyaghu tweeted that this teaches women to accept beatings, which is, in effect, another form of violence, while lawyer Maryam Hajimohammadi argued that the only reason to air the interview was to encourage women to accept beatings.

Fararu website also asked whether this would lead to an increase in “the culture of acceptance and humiliation of women” when official data show that 60% of Iranian women have experienced domestic violence at least once in their life and many women are already suffering in silence because of the social stigma surrounding domestic abuse.

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