Tuesday, December 8, 2015

IGroup, and the erroneous selling of domestic abuse

I was shown this ad today: A battered woman with a bruise on her face with the slogan "what are you still waiting for? 0% first payment, you can now be independent". The ad basically uses domestic abuse - something that NGOs have been fighting tooth and nail to curb down and to create laws to stop - into a selling tool for IGroup. Needless to say that the backlash on the internet was severe and rightfully so.
Apart from the not-very-smart thing of using domestic abuse as a sales tool, the ad also simplifies a more complex issue. First, let me say that hitting (and on the face no less) is something that happens progressively in a relationship. So by the time such a thing happens, the spouse would be in a Stockholm Syndrome with her partner/abuser and emotionally unable to disentangle herself from the relationship.
True, finances, apart from emotions, can be factor for women to remain in an abusive relationship. But the reason why these women stay for financial issues is because of lack of alternative resources. Meaning if they left their abusive partner, there is no way for them to remain afloat financially (with their children, as women certainly would have the instinct to flee with their offspring). Mind you, even if the first payment is 0% these women lack the financial autonomy of committing to long term financial solutions especially that I am sure, at one point, I Group want their to recoup their investment.
Another factor that drive women to remain in an abusive relationship is the "ayb" and "haram" they are faced with - in essence the public shaming of whatever decision they take. If they do leave the house and the scandal breaks, the patriarchal society we live in as Orientals in Lebanon would find millions of ways for justifying why she was abused. "She wasn't good enough", "she was cheating on him", "she deserved it", "she brought it on herself" and so on. If they remain in the relationship, the results are ever escalating physically and morally for the women in question. So as they say: damned if they do, damned if they don't.
All of the above is to say that abusive relationships cannot be solved exclusively with financial entitlements, because they come from a complex set of socio-cultural reasons as well.
But in short - what on earth anyone involved in coming up and approving this ad was thinking?