The smiling woman on the daily Moroccan television show spoke to viewers as if it were any other makeup tutorial, comparing brands and hues of face foundation and demonstrating how to apply it. Seated next to her was a woman with what appeared to be a black eye and bruises on her cheekbones.
“After the beating, this part is still sensitive, so don’t press. Make sure to use loose powder to fix the makeup so if you have to work throughout the day, the bruises don’t show,” said the host said in Arabic as she applied makeup on the woman’s face, eventually concealing the woman’s bruises.
The makeup tutorial, aired Wednesday on Moroccan state television, instructed viewers how to use concealer to “camouflage the traces of violence against women,” spurring outrage on social media that prompted an apology from the channel. The segment was broadcast two days before the U.N. International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, the Guardian reported.
“It’s a subject we shouldn’t talk about, but unfortunately that’s what it is,” the segment’s host, Lilia Mouline, said in the tutorial. “We hope that these beauty tips help you carry on with your normal life.”
Before naming the various recommended beauty brands, Mouline reminded viewers that the apparent swelling and black and blue bruises around the woman’s eyes were depicted with makeup, and were not the result of real wounds. She suggested certain foundation tones for most effectively disguising a woman’s unfortunate “beating.”
“Use foundation with yellow in it,” she said. “If you use the white one, your red punch marks will always show.”
The video prompted shock and criticism on Twitter from viewers who saw the video as an attempt to encourage women to “conceal” abuse with makeup, instead of condemning the individuals responsible for the violence.
An online petition with more than 2,470 supporters encouraged people to contact the High Authority of Audiovisual Communication, the Moroccan authority responsible for regulating television and radio, and demand it take action against the television program.
“As Moroccan women and as feminist activists in Morocco, and in the name of all Moroccan people, we denounce the message of normalization with violence against women,” the petition read. “We demand severe sanctions against this show, ‘Sabahiyat,’ and the channel 2M.”
“Do not cover domestic violence with makeup, condemn the aggressor!” the petition said.
The channel removed the video segment from its website and issued online and on-air apologies for the tutorial, calling it “completely inappropriate” and an “editorial error of judgment in view of the sensitivity and the gravity of the subject of violence against women.”
In the apology on 2M’s Facebook page, it said the video contradicted the channel’s “unwavering” commitment in favor of the defense of the rights of women. It said it would take the necessary steps to address the people responsible for the error.
Human Rights Watch has previously criticized Morocco for what it called a “tepid response” to domestic violence. In February 2016, Human Rights Watch wrote a letter to the Moroccan government urging it to strengthen and draft laws to improve protection for victims of domestic violence. Existing laws in Morocco do not provide adequate guidance to police, prosecutors or investigative judges about their duties in domestic violence cases, the letter said, which contributes to inconsistent practices by some authorities. Female survivors of domestic violence told Human Rights Watch about times when the police did little or nothing when they tried to report domestic violence.
In 2009, a national survey by the Moroccan High Commission for Planning found that nearly two-thirds — 62.8 percent — of women ages 18 to 65 had experienced physical, psychological, sexual or economic violence. Of the sample interviewed, 55 percent reported “conjugal” violence and 13.5 percent reported “familial” violence. Only 3 percent of those who had experienced conjugal violence had reported it to the authorities.
“Sabahiyat” typically offers segments on health, beauty, cooking, fashion and other subject areas. Responding to criticism of the makeup tutorial, Mouline, the segment’s host, told a Moroccan radio station, Yabiladi, that “in no way are we endorsing” domestic violence.
“We are here to provide solutions to these women who, for a period of two to three weeks, are putting their social life aside while their wounds heal. These women have already been subjected to moral humiliation and do not need to also have others looking at them,” Mouline said, according to Morocco World News.
“Makeup,” Mouline says, “allows women to continue to live normally while waiting for justice.”
At the end of the tutorial on the show, Mouline said she hoped victims of domestic abuse could conceal their abuse so that they could “go to work and do what you have to do.”
“I wish you better days,” she said at the end.