In the series “La Tutfi Al-Shams” (Don’t Set the Sun Off), a women cheats on her husband with his business partner
CAIRO – 13 December 2017: As Egyptians watch more television shows, listen to various radio stations and depend on online news sources for information; they become more influenced by the audiovisual media shaping their collective consciousness and awareness.
Focusing on the issue of inciting violence against women (VAW), media is considered one of the powerful tools to blunt or increase violence against women. Media has the ability to change stereotypes about Egyptian women, for the best or the worst, especially ones featured in drama and movies, because of what it presents to the public.
Thus, it was no surprise the National Council for Women (NCW) announced in June 2016 the foundation of a committee dedicated to monitoring and observing depictions of women in TV programs, commercials and series during the month of Ramadan, the month with the highest television viewer rates.
In 2017, the NCW conducted a content analysis research on Ramadan shows, in which it condemned the degrading, distorting image of Egyptian woman currently portrayed in drama and television ads on satellite channels. They undermine and devalue the status and roles of Egyptian women in society.
The report says “55.58 percent of scenes portraying women show them in a negative light. While some positive scenes exist, they are not enough compared to the scenes showing them as unfaithful wives, drug dealers or passive, vulnerable weak women.”
Cheating women are presented in Ramadan shows as if it is a pattern prevalent in Egyptian society. There is not a single show on TV without a cheater. While every year, cheaters are usually men, this Ramadan, the tables have turned and women are shown in series having affairs left and right — a complete misrepresentation of reality.
We have a bitter ballerina who was cheated on by her husband and best friend in “Le Alaa Seaar” (To the Highest Price). We have another woman, Abla, the character played by Sarah Salama, falsely accused of cheating with her brother-in-law when she is actually having an affair with her husband’s boss.
Nelly karim plays a role of ballerina who was cheated on by her husband and best friend in “Le Alaa Seaar” (To the Highest Price)
In the series “La Tutfi Al-Shams” (Don’t Set the Sun Off), we see a woman cheating on her husband with his business partner, while her sister is cheating on her husband with her married music teacher, all while being in love with her best friend.
a young girl cheats her husband with her married music teacher
Ghada Abdel Razik’s Ramadan TV series “Ard Gaw” also presented an air hostess who cheated on her fiancée with a businessman from the Gulf for the sake of money, the thing that is totally against Egyptian women’s morals and traditions.
Even if it is 2017, the year of the Egyptian woman, Egyptian drama still portrays women as vulnerable and desperately; weak waiting for her “prince charming” to save her.
Woman’s dependence can be commonly found in all series in Ramadan 2017. Perhaps their worst in abundance is in “La Tutfi Al-Shams”, where a young woman falls in love with her tutor, begging him to stay with her even if this is against many moral values.
“Wahat Al-Ghoroub” (Sunset Oasis) dealt with the imprisonment of the woman Catherine, whose neurotic husband always sought to confine her to the house, neglecting her pleas and feelings, even when she tells him that she feels almost dead when alone, while he coldly replies, “then die, but far away from my zone of influence.” That is besides his serial unfaithfulness to her, which is awkwardly accepted by a western woman.
The crisis in “Wahat Al-Ghoroub” series is that the one who perpetuates violence against his wife is also the hero of the show, Khaled El Nabawy, who is closest to the hearts of the audience and hence has a large impact on them.
“Le Alaa Seaar” shows women competing over a man at the expense of their friendship to the extent that they both strive to align their lives around his own satisfaction. In fact, this idea of competing and striving over a man throughout the series implants in people’s consciousness that pursuing a man is a matter worthy of being a life-goal.
Continuously portraying women as vulnerable, passive and weak can lead to shaping a general perception that this is the norm. While some may argue that that these shows are just for entertainment, media proves that it has an uncontested role in dictating people's behavior and ideas. Thus, media has to play a preventative role in regards to violence against women. Media has to change society’s perceptions of gender roles by changing the stereotypes featured in drama series and movies.
People in media have a pivotal role in initiating and fostering new opportunities to advance women empowerment and end violence against women. Furthermore, they can play a leading role in giving women the platform to voice their issues and present strong female role models. Media must also emphasize the responsibility of men and boys to change their own behavior and attitudes — as a result, contributing to changing the perception of gender roles and women’s right to participation in public life and protection in private life.
This article is part of Egypt Today’s campaign “Break the Silence ... Say No to Violence” marking the 16-day campaign of activism against gender-based violence (GBV) from November 25 to December 10.