Recently, an advertisement for Care Norway by agency Schjaerven titled “Dear Daddy, I will be called a who**” took social media by storm, driving a sledgehammer through the hearts of everyone during a five minute short film.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one in three women in the world will experience physical or sexual violence in their lives, most often from a male partner. “Dear Daddy,” Care Norway’s latest PSA, asserts that the jokes about women and girls, the sexual innuendos—and the lax attitude we have toward the people who make them is what feeds this outrageously high figure.
The video is a heartfelt letter from an unborn child, expressing appreciation for the father she hasn’t yet met. “Dear Daddy,” she begins. “I just wanted to thank you for looking after me so well, even though I’m not yet born. I know you already try harder than Superman; you won’t even let mummy eat sushi!”
This warm start is reinforced by a man getting into his car and casting an intimate look at his partner, who rubs her big ripe belly in the passenger seat. But things quickly take a turn for dark, destabilizing territory. “I need to ask you a favour,” the girl’s voiceover continues. “A Warning: It’s about boys.”
Sri Lanka, although undoubtedly a beautiful destination to travel, is not a women friendly place. But then again, where in this world can a woman safely walk the streets at night without fearing catcalls, inappropriate sexual humour or even rape?
In the video “Dear Daddy”, the girl speaks of the jokes about women and girls and the sexual innuendos that are made against women as if it is a normal day-to-day thing. “Just for fun, of course. Something that boys do. So you won’t worry, and I understand that” she says. And even in this small and beautiful Island, her words hold true.
A woman cannot travel in the bus without the fear of being groped or touched. Every Sri Lankan woman knows this. Sexual harassment is an unwelcome act of a sexual nature, using assault, criminal force, or words or actions, which causes annoyance or pain of mind to the person being harassed. Although to the recipient the act is unwelcome, humiliating, disgusting, revolting and repulsive, the perpetrator may view it as complimentary,
harmless, funny, ‘normal’ and even flattering. It is nevertheless sexual harassment if the act is unwelcome. Sexual harassment can occur in private or public life, between family and friends or at the workplace, public places and transportation. Both men and women can be perpetrators.
However, much like the video suggests, most often than not, when a woman goes through sexual harassment, physical violence or any such thing that destroys a woman’s self esteem, they have a certain sense that it’s probably their fault; and the debilitating soup of emotions we feel when someone slights us.
All of us, not just men, even women may have slighted another at some point in our lives. Judged a woman for the way they dressed, made someone feel bad about the way they carried themselves etc. What we need to teach our children, what we need to perhaps teach ourselves is that, this is wrong.
“One thing always leads to another, so please stop it before it gets the chance to begin,” she says. “Don’t let my brother’s call girls whores, because they’re not, and one day some little boy might think it’s true. Don’t accept insulting jokes from weird guys by the pool, or even friends, because behind every joke there is always some truth.
“I know you will protect me from lions, tigers, guns, cars or even sushi without even thinking about the danger to your own life. But dear Daddy, I will be born a girl. Please do everything you can so that won’t stay the greatest danger of all.”