11 Apr Gender Violence in a Haircut.
I just reported a Facebook video for violent abusive content. If I knew who to call in that country, I would report the people responsible to social services/child welfare.
A Pasifika family posted a video of them cutting off a young woman’s hair as punishment for her disobedient (possibly promiscuous?) behaviour. They also posted a lengthy condemnation of the teenage girl, who has since run away from their home – saying that they took her in after she left one family because she was being abused, they were kind and generous to take her in, shes lucky they didnt beat her, asking for people to share the video so she will be further shamed, and telling the girl to return so they can beat her properly. And “Im f@#&*^/ mad at you blah blah…”
The video has had thousands of views with comments ranging from “Thats nothing. You should have beat her…” to “Shes lucky she doesnt live in Samoa, she would be a bloody mess by now and have all her head shaved…” to “I remember when that happened to me. Shes lucky your family treated her so well…” to “I feel sorry for your family having to put up with a girl like that. You should have beat/hurt/smashed/really taught her a lesson. Sending your parents love.”
The practise of cutting a womans hair to shame her for (usually) her sexual choices and behaviour is an example of violence against women. When its combined with social media, the scope of the shaming is multiplied many times over. This is called cyber-bullying and its a crime.
We have a high suicide rate, especially amongst our young people. I’m horrified and sad that none of the eager rabid commenters or video viewers seem to have considered the very real fallout that posting AND sharing a video like this, might have on the young woman in question.
There are other, better ways for a family to teach and discipline a ‘difficult’ troubled teenager. It’s my hope that this girl will get the support she needs.
I dont care if its ‘our culture’ for elders to use all kinds of violence on children and youth. It’s immaterial if you were beaten as a child and “look at me, I turned out okay!” Abuse is a crime and we need to stop making excuses for it. Violence against women in the form of hair cutting/ shaving is an example of how both men AND other women, attempt to control and subdue, shame and silence.
For all the excited viewers and commenters getting in on the action by throwing their own stones of condemnation – I ask you to consider the target of your pack mentality, a teenage girl who could surely use some compassion right now.
Please share – have you or someone you know, ever experienced this practise of punishing a woman by cutting her hair? Its common in Samoa and I didnt realize that Tongans also practise this?