Picture of Moroccan Female MP in Parliament: Who Is to Blame?
By Brahim Koulila
Morocco World News
Kenitra, Morocco, May 14, 2012
Parliamentarians are supposed to represent their peoples with regard to daily problems and national issues. Doubtless, they should not go to parliament to dose-off or have fun. As such, a parliamentarian is responsible for every single move –namely in democratic countries— he or she makes. However, they remain human beings who can make mistakes. People should not watch their representatives in the parliament and try to trap them, unless they do something wrong that could have a negative impact on their social, economic or political interests. Indeed, a parliamentarian, be it a woman or man, must respect the place where he or she discusses issues that concern a whole nation.
Normally, journalists are the ones who can serve as a channel between nations and representatives. They interview them, take pictures of them, report their announcements, among other functions. Still, sometimes, some journalists transgress their limits and report news that has no benefit to their nation. Instead of doing their work objectively, they become as a paparazzi looking for the tiniest details to turn into a controversy.
Recently, a photo of Mrs. Nabila Benomar, a Moroccan parliamentarian, sitting in the parliament wearing a miniskirt and her legs extended – barefooted– has been made too much ado about nothing. The photo was presumably taken during a break between two sessions in the parliament. As such, a very big question mark arises about this affair. Who was wrong, Mrs. Benomar or the journalist who took the picture?
According to her, she was relaxing during a break. She was neither asking a question nor listening to a comment or announcement by a minister when the picture was taken, which does not make of her posture a problem at all. A lot of parliamentarians worldwide would do the same thing: sometimes, out of fatigue or stress, we tend to take off our shoes to rest our feet, so to speak. Does this posture directly affect this woman’s political performance? Well, not necessarily at all. We listen with our ears, not our legs. On the other hand, I am quite sure that a lot of people would argue that a Muslim, Moroccan woman and parliamentarian should not enter the parliament wearing such a scanty skirt. Indeed, there is a little truth in this argument, but does this allow our journalists to become voyeurs?
The journalists who shot the picture behaved like a paparazzi. Normally, we expect only good, professional journalists to work inside the parliament, not amateurs or voyeurs. I wonder if the journalist or photographer had asked himself this question: “What will be the public benefit or learned from my ‘wonderful discovery’ (the thighs of Mrs. Benamar)?” I believe that he thought the way she was sitting reflected how Moroccan women work as politicians. Perhaps, for him, women go to the parliament just to kill time. In other words, his message was clear: this is how women represent us.
A lot of people have endorsed this view. The picture of Mrs. Nabila Benamar has given way to some misogynists to attack female parliamentarians. Apparently, some people had been waiting for this picture to confirm that women are far too weak and lazy to be good parliamentarians. Unfortunately, people thinking as such forgot that the picture had been taken at the expense of the reputation of the parliamentarian in question and that laziness is not limited only to women: if a politician is honest or good, this has nothing to do with his or her sex at all.
What are the boundaries that a journalist should not cross? It would be gullible believe that in Morocco most journalists know them. In a country where more than half of the journalists do not have a professional license and have never gone through professional training, boundaries with regard to transparency, freedom of speech, respect of others’ privacy and so forth will always remain ambiguous.
The affair of Mrs. Nabila Benomar seems to be a sort of philosophical question: is this woman guilty of wearing scanty clothes inside the parliament, knowing she is a Muslim woman who is suppose to represent millions of people? Did the journalist try to fish in murky water at the expense of the reputation of a woman politician who has the right to sit as she likes during a break? Indeed, everybody will look at it from his or her point of view, depending on many factors, such as political background and religious beliefs.
Koulila Brahim is a Moroccan teacher of English and essayist. He lives in Kénitra, Morocco. He obtained his M.A. (Studies in English language and culture) from Ibn Tofail University, Kénitra (Morocco) in 2010. He is interested in Morocco’s politics.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy.
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