Italy has put out a PSA on domestic violence in January, and it went viral.

Italy’s Approach To Domestic Violence

In the PSA, young boys are introduced and asked questions about their interests and aspirations. Then they are introduced to a girl and asked to “caress her” and “make a funny face at her.” The narrator then follows seamlessly with the directive, “Slap her. Hard.” The boys, dumbfounded, all refuse to do so.

When prompted for a reason for why they aren’t slapping her, the boys quickly offer various motivations: one boy says he doesn’t want to hurt her, another says that men shouldn’t. The ad, set to touching and then triumphant music, carries the message that violence towards women is taught.

Was Italy Right To Say “Slap Her”

The PSA comes on the heels of an United Nations report from June 2012 that states: “Domestic violence is the most pervasive form of violence” and that “A national survey conducted in 2006 estimated that 31.9 percent of women between the ages of 16 and 70 face physical or sexual violence during their lifetime.” The reported 31 percent of women in Italy who experience domestic violence is lower than the Center for Disease Control-reported rate of rape, stalking or physical violence from an intimate partner towards women in the United States—33 percent.

While there is no denying the importance of increasing the awareness of domestic violence, it’s hard to say that this PSA achieves its entirely. For starters, striking a woman who is also a stranger because you are asked to is not the “normal” scenario in which domestic violence occurs. Second, as was noted by other news outlets, the ad doesn’t empower the girl in the ad—the boys only do things to her, and she is not shown as defending herself or having a choice in any of it.

This ad went viral for a reason: it’s an intriguing premise, well put together and incredibly polarizing. The ultimate goal of any PSA however is action and awareness, and we at Agree are not sure it had the intended effect.

Makes you wonder if the ad was really for domestic violence prevention or a ploy to drive traffic to fanpage.

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