We celebrated Mother’s day on March 21 but it also happens to be the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and on this day, MARCH Lebanon invited us to remember the thousands of mothers that came from around the world to work in Lebanon and support their families. There are over 200,000 migrant domestic workers in Lebanon coming from the Philippines, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh and Ethiopia and working under horrible conditions that sometimes border on modern day slavery. In the past week only, two domestic workers committed suicide yet we barely heard about them or knew why they decided to end their life.
Unfortunately and despite the fact that racism in Lebanon is still widespread, the real problem has always been in the Kafala (Sponsorship) system that hasn’t been abolished yet and allows agencies and households to enslave the domestic workers and mistreat them. KAFA Lebanon once followed the journey of a migrant domestic worker (from Nepal and Bangladesh) from recruitment to working and shed the light on some alarming facts and stats. To list few:
– 69% of domestic workers either borrow money or sell their properties to cover the recruitment and travel fees to Lebanon.
– 96% of domestic workers reported that their passports were confiscated by their employer.
– 64% of the women worked more than 15 hours a day.
– 62% of the workers reported experiencing verbal abuse, 36% reported physical abuse and 8% reported sexual abuse.
We need to end the sponsorship system and give domestic workers the same rights as any foreign worker. It’s about time we stop racism against domestic workers and all foreign workers and refugees in Lebanon. Having said that, we can only hope that this Mother’s day will be the last sad one for Lebanon’s foreign domestic workers but their fight is a long one.
That’s just crazy stuff! More than half a ton of sanitary towels containing a radioactive substance were seized today at the Beirut Rafic Hariri Airport. The pads confiscated were all Chinese-made and delivered to Lebanon through Dubai. The news were reported by Reuters but they didn’t mention what level of radioactivity had been detected.
I think this is far worse than expired or rotten products and I hope the authorities will be able to trace back the source and see if any radioactive products are being sold in the market. We need to know the name of the company and who the hell is sending half a ton of radioactive sanitary towels to our market. On another note, this is the first time I hear about the Lebanese Atomic Energy Agency. I had no clue we had such a thing in Lebanon so I looked up a bit and found a website and the below info:
The Lebanese Atomic Energy Commission (LAEC) was established in 1996 with the support and collaboration of the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Arabic Atomic Energy Commission, in order to promote the peaceful application of atomic energy in Lebanon. The Commission is the only institution of its kind within the CNRS. Recently through its operational arm a radiation protection infrastructure is being established. The Commission is currently involved in environmental and food monitoring programmes using state of the art equipment and techniques.
Joumana Haddad is Lebanese journalist, activist, poet, instructor, author and the head of the cultural pages for An Nahar newspaper, as well as the editor-in-chief of Jasad magazine, a controversial Arabic magazine specialized in the literature and arts of the body. She’s an exceptional woman that speaks seven languages and was recently ranked among the 100 Most Powerful Arab Women in 2015.
Joumana was supposed to fly to Bahrain on the 6th of April to attend a cultural event, however an online campaign (#البحرين_لا_ترحب_بالملحدين) was started against her visit and as a result, she was denied entrance because she’s an atheist and a threat to society. How is being an atheist a threat to society? Unless Joumana chops heads off and trains terrorists while pretending to write poetry, I think that’s the most pathetic thing I’ve ever heard of.
In all cases, it’s their loss as any country should be proud of having women like Joumana Haddad.
Update (19 March 2015):: Here’s a small french text I found about the monument
“Le groupe en bronze sculpté par un italien du nom de Mazzucati a pris la place du monument en pierre de Youssef Hoyeck représentant deux femmes, l’une chrétienne, l’autre musulmane. Considérées comme pas assez «glorieuses», les pleureuses Hoyeck n’on connu qu’heurs et malheurs: Attaquées par un fou en 1948, déboulonnées en 1960, elles furent retrouvées enduites de goudron dans un dépôt avant d’être finalement restaurées et exposées dans le jardin du musée Sursock ou elles sont désormais bichonnées par la passionnée conservatrice Sylvia Agémian. La mobilité des monuments et leur déboulonnage institutionnalisé ont fait des émules chez les voisins: Au printemps 2005, portraits équestres, en pied ou en buste à l’effigie de chefs d’états, fils de chefs d’états et fils de chefs d’états devenus chefs d’états qui enjolivaient le pays furent démantelés et évacués par leurs propriétaires, mêmes. “
It basically says that “Les Pleureuses” which were built by Joseph Hoayek were damaged by a crazy man in 1948 and then were removed and displayed at Musee Surosck where they still are. One of the readers promised to send me a picture. I will post it once available.
Update2 (20 March 2015): I got two close-up pictures of the monument from one of the blog’s readers. Thanks a million Maissa!
I was going through old pictures of Martyrs Square and I found this very old picture of a monument of a Christian and a Muslim Lebanese women holding hands that was apparently removed in the 1950s right before the construction of the Martyrs Monument. I’ve never heard of that monument before and I couldn’t find out why they decided to remove it and replace it with the Italian sculptor Renato Marino Mazzacurati statue that we all are familiar with.
I tried looking at old pictures of Martyrs Square (Before 1950) to try and locate where the monument was but couldn’t really figure it out. However if you notice the monument was right below the Philips sign which is showing in newer pictures (1950s and up). I know it’s not a big deal but it would be nice to know the story behind that statue, how it came be and where it is now. Here are a couple of pictures of how Martyrs Square looked in the 1930s and a newer one from the 1950s.
PS: If anyone has further information on that statue, please do share.
Martyrs Square in the 1930s
Martyrs Square in the 1930s
Martyrs Square in the 1950s: Notice the Philips sign
Internet censorship is wrong and a lot of bloggers, Twitter and Facebook users are still being summoned or questioned by the authorities for posts or pictures they either published or shared. In the absence of a law that regulates internet usage (Fortunately?) and protects the freedom of internet users, such practices are questionable and the majority of those summoned usually don’t have anyone to turn to and aren’t aware about their rights. Moreover, it’s very stressful when you get a call from the authorities asking you to come over for a coffee and a lot of people don’t know how to behave in such situations out of fear. For that purpose, MARCH Lebanon has been working for months on launching a hotline to provide support, advice and legal representation for any online user who is being harassed by the authorities.
The hotline was finally launched last week (70-235463) and the aim from it is not defy the authorities but to raise awareness on everyone’s rights, ensure that legal procedures are being followed and of course defend internet freedom in Lebanon. A booklet will be distributed on a later stage to inform internet users and more specifically social media users of their rights. The hotline will be operational 24/7 and you can even report people being harassed or websites being banned.
Make good use of this number and help protect internet freedom in Lebanon. Many thanks to the MARCH Lebanon team!
Investigators are examining the area where she was found and a construction site behind Midtown for clues.
A 21 year old student called Nicole Assaf was unfortunately found dead in an empty lot in Hamra near Midtown Hotel and Suites. Nicole was a civil engineering student at the American University of Beirut. Nicole is originally from Jbeil and was living in Hamra with a roommate.
AUB mourned the student earlier today and investigations are still ongoing to determine what happened. Unfortunately, this is the second tragic incident in 2 years involving an AUB student. At this point, I believe it’s better not to make speculations out of respect to the victim’s family.
Sincere condolences to Nicole’s family and her friends.
It feels great when a story like this one becomes a global sensation and is picked up by Time, The Huffington Post, The Guardian, Independent and others. Rima’s interview with the London-based Sheikh has been seen over 6 million times in just few days which is quite incredible.
Rima was interviewed by the Guardian and said the video “had a positive impact, particularly in patriarchal societies, where female journalists faced many more challenges than their male colleague”. She continued by saying that she doesn’t feel like a hero but like any man or woman with self-respect. Well I think she is a hero because Lebanon has made global headlines for a good cause this time, not because of a porn star or a stupid selfie.
A London-based Islamist and a friend of Ayman el Zawahiri didn’t like the fact that Lebanese TV host Rima Karaki asked him politely to stick to the topic of discussion, so he asked her to shut up. That’s when Rima decided to silence the Sheikh and stop the interview. I think she did good and let this be a lesson to every religious person (and anyone for that sake) disrespecting female talk show hosts.
Instead of tackling homosexuality in Lebanon in an objective and scientific matter, OTV decided to promote the show by asking whether homosexuality is a fashion trend or an illness. In order to be fair, I did bother and watch the show and while the doctors and Pierre Bou Saab were mostly spot on and made sense, the host kept asking the wrong questions and making wrong assumptions and over-generalizing.
Homosexuality is not a trend nor an illness and people don’t choose to become gay. While people are affected by environmental and social factors, almost everyone agrees that sexual orientation has nothing to do with choice, and even if it did, no one is entitled to judge others based on that or call it an illness. Moreover, I don’t know why she assumed that more Lebanese recently are rejecting this “weird phenomenon” as she calls it. There aren’t any studies or surveys to prove that and if that’s the case, awareness is much needed then. We shouldn’t portray gay people as being different or weird and we should help them in their struggle against ignorance and hatred.
On another note, the host didn’t even know what LGBT stands for and thought it was a cool term gay people use nowadays. She also said biosexual instead of bisexual in the first part (Between Minute 3:20 and 3:35) and the doctor corrected her. I’m glad she didn’t bring any religious people but the show didn’t send out the right message and promoting it the way they did was a bad move.
Here’s the [first part] for those interested in watching.