Category Archives: Society

Families, Neighbors And Friends Should Protect Lebanese Women From Abusive Husbands

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wifej

Every time I hear about a husband beating or abusing his wife in Lebanon, I keep asking myself why don’t the victim’s parents and friends do anything about it. I understand that some women are too afraid to speak up, but Sara al-Amin is not one of them and was filing a lawsuit against her husband for allegedly beating her over two decades! Unfortunately, Ali al-Zein shot his wife Sara al-Amin dead using an assault riffle after hearing that she’s pressing charges and fled the house. He was later on caught by the police.

11329798_10153276136174337_2179348084723932233_n via Kafa

Needless to say, this is a horrendous crime and everyone wants justice and is asking for the husband to be sentenced to death, but this is not enough and won’t get us anywhere. Even having a law that protects women from abusive husbands is not enough if society doesn’t step in to protect the victim. I am not here to judge the victim’s family or neighbors or friends, but to encourage them to take proper action next time they witness domestic violence and do whatever it takes to keep the victim safe and help her speak up. If you watch the below report, Sarah’s neighbor was trying to reconcile the couple and convinced her to go back to her husband, and Sarah’s father stated he wouldn’t have let her come back to her husband if he knew he had a gun. Both of them were obviously trying to help Sarah but should have called the cops or some local NGO like KAFA to ensure Sarah’s safety, even if it’s against her will because she was obviously more worried about her children than herself.

10502013_10153276444024337_7772738399627689090_n Men who still think like this guy should be thrown in jail – via Kafa

A man who beats his wife or his children for 20 years won’t stop anytime soon unless he’s jailed or severely punished. I know a guy who went and beat the hell out of his sister’s husband because he was hitting her and it worked but that’s not the right way. Friends, family and neighbors should be pressuring the authorities to arrest an abusive husband before he commits his crime not after, and the cops should put under arrest a man beating his wife before he kills her not after. This whole “Keeping it in the family” thing should stop because the victims always end up being the highest price.

Having said that, please do report any case of domestic violence you witness and try to help the victim while keeping her safe. Sarah was brave enough to file a lawsuit against her husband, but there are hundreds if not thousands of other Lebanese women too afraid to speak up. As far as the ISF is concerned, Kafa has already trained over 100 ISF members on how to handle domestic abuse cases but further action is needed to make the victims feel safe and able to go back home and not be threatened by their abusive husbands.

Kafa’s hotline is 03018019 and the ISF can be reached on 112.

[YouTube]

Violence, Camouflaged: Powerful Portraits Of Lebanese Women

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Abillama01-1200 By Lebanese Photographer Lamia Maria Abillama

This is not a campaign to support the Lebanese Army, but a powerful series of portraits by Lebanese Photographer Lamia Maria Abillama entitled “Clashing Realities”. Several Lebanese civilian women, like May Chidiac, are shown in their homes wearing military uniforms “a symbolic representation of the encroachment of political violence into personal space”, or in other words to symbolize the violence that these women experienced at some point in their lives, whether it was the Lebanese civil war, an explosion or others …

Abillama’s work will be published later this month as part of a book series devoted to the work of Beirut-based female photographers. You can check out all the portraits in the [NewYorker] article.

Each of her subjects’ lives has been touched by violence, Abillama told me, although she has chosen not to include captions identifying their names or describing their traumas. Instead, it is their common identity, the burden they wear like a “second skin,” that she wants to call attention to. As the daughter of a storied political family whose life was shaped by Lebanon’s 1975-90 civil war, Abillama grew to despise her country’s system of governance. And she knows that the second skin is not easily shed. “Even if you go to Paris or Milan or wherever, ultimately you carry within yourself always the spectre of war,” she told me.

Speaking of women and violence, Lebanese singer Elissa apparently released a new song called “Ya Merayti” to highlight violence against women and in support of the Lebanese NGO Kafa (While Haifa is still breathing you in). I won’t criticize Elissa’s clip as it has a powerful message but I am curious to know why she’s talking in English at the start.

[YouTube]

A Lebanese TV Campaign Against Homophobia: The First Of Its Kind In The Arab World

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homo

Homosexuality is not a trend nor an illness and people don’t choose to become gay. Blaming People for Being Gay is Like Blaming Them for Being Left-Handed.

IDAHOT (International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia) is a long day event organized and hosted by Proud Lebanon. During this day, various activities will take place in order to address the issues related to this cause. Your participation is highly appreciated and required, so you can contribute to promote our cause and fight against Homophobia.

[YouTube]

#RealityCheck: Are You Armenian? Do You Eat Basterma?

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pierre

Are you Armenian? Do you eat a lot of spices? Do you live in Bourj Hammoud? Do you eat Basterma a lot? Bto2rabak Kim Kardashian?

These are all real life questions that are often asked to Lebanese-Armenians based on stereotypes that are generally untrue and are not as funny as some people think they are. The below video is meant to spread a message against stereotyping in a funny way and includes several known Lebanese-Armenian personalities such as Pierre Chammassian (this guy is hilarious), Roy Malakian, Paula Yacoubian, Sandra Arslanian, Shant Kababian, Guy Manoukian and others …

[YouTube]

Thanks Bouchra!

Can You Live With 11,000LL for 5 days? Three AUB Students Are Taking The Live Below The Line Challenge

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Haifa

30,000 people from all over the world are taking the “Live Below The Line” challenge by spending £1 (2,200LL) a day for 5 days and attempting to raise over £7 million for the world’s leading anti-poverty organisations. Out of these 30,000 there are three AUB students that are taking the challenge, Haifa Harb, Sandra Shaban and Hadeel Hmaidi and raising money for Human Care Syria, an organization that delivers quality humanitarian aid and development programmes to affected communities in Syria and neighbouring countries.

Haifa is already at Day4 and has exceeded her goal of £1000 while Hadeel and Sandra are on their last day have also exceeded their £400 set goal. What’s important is that you can still donate and show support to these three brave girls because what they are doing is really amazing and tough. I honestly don’t think I can pull off such a thing while having a full time job (two actually) but if anyone wants to participate, all the information you need is on the [website].

Haifa1

Just to give you an idea of what your meal is like if you can spend only 2200LL per day, Haifa had:
– 1 egg and 1 banana for breakfast.
– 1 cup of noodles and 2 rolls of bread for lunch.
– 1 banana and 1 roll of bread for dinner.

If you wish to donate to any of the three candidates, here’s the [link] for Haifa, the [link] for Hadeel and the [link] for Sandra.

Update: There’s also Farah Hashem taking the challenge. You can help her meet her goal [here].

PS: If you know other Lebanese or students in Lebanon taking the challenge, please let me know so I can add them.

Hadeel Hmaidi

Are You Man Enough Beirut? Let’s Walk a Mile in Her Shoes

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scar Any volunteers to teach me how to walk in heels?

My awesome Uf Concepts friends are bringing the “Walk A mile In Her Shoes” event to Beirut in an attempt to raise awareness on violence against women and raise funds for KAFA by selling heels to men. You heard me right, Lebanese men will be asked to walk or run in heels for 1 mile on April 26 starting 10:00 AM at Waterfront City Dbayeh.

I got my heels yesterday and you can buy yours from Le Mall Dbayyeh and Sin el Fil (April 11,12 & 18,19). I’ve already convinced a couple of friends to join me and anyone is more than welcome to join the BlogBaladi team. We will have some fun and walk for a good cause that concerns us all. Check out the [website] and [Facebook] page.

[YouTube]

If you want more info, call 00961 70 519171 or email info@ufconcepts.me. You can also smoke-signal them at 34.301221,36.117094.

20150407-WAMIHS-Beirut-Insta-FB-Photo-BlogBaladi

Lebanon’s Population To Hit 5.9 Million By End Of 2015

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poor The shopping mall that’s now home to 400 Syrian families – Source

If we examine ESCWA’s study on the population growth in Lebanon, the population size of Lebanon increased from 2.6 million in 1980 to 4.3 million in 2010 and was expected to reach 5 million by end of 2015, however the Syrian crisis has changed all that and Lebanon’s population is expected to hit almost 6 million by the end of this year (Source: UNHCR).

The economic and social impact of the Syrian crisis is reaching new heights every year as the mass influx of refugees into Lebanese territory continues. There are at least 1.5 million Syrians registered with UNHCR as refugees and at least half a million more residing here but not registered. For this purpose, the Lebanon Crisis Response Plan (LCRP) was initiated to “describe how the Government of Lebanon and its partners will work together to reinforce stability through this crisis while also protecting Lebanon’s most vulnerable inhabitants, including de facto refugees”. The funding required for this plan is a bit over $2 billion dollars and is aimed at helping 3.3 million people in need, out of which 1.5 million are Lebanese, 1.5 million Syrian and 300,000 Palestinian. If we look at the numbers they are quite scary as the number of poor has risen by nearly two-thirds since 2011 and Lebanese unemployment has doubled.

Here are some of the projections (December 2015) stated in the report:
– Estimated population currently living in Lebanon: 5.9 million.
– Estimated people in need: 3.3 million (1.5M Lebanese, 1.5M Syrian, 300K Palestinian).
– 1 in 4 is displaced.
– Economic losses due to the Syrian crisis: $7.5 Billion dollars.
– 348,300 Lebanese, Syrian and Palestinian children are out of school compared to 300,000 enrolled in public schools
– 61% more POOR inside Lebanon since 2011.
– 92% of sewage running untreated into watercourses.
– 1.5 Million Lebanese are below the poverty line.

I think it’s the perfect time to organize an international fundraising conference to help Lebanon, and more importantly appoint an international committee or group to implement the LCRP just to make sure money doesn’t end up in the wrong pockets. Moreover, I think all NGOs should cut down their operational costs to a strict minimum in Lebanon in order to allocate most of their budgets to helping out refugees. You can read the full report [here].

A Reminder That Migrant Domestic Workers Are Mothers Too

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Racism

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.

[YouTube]

Lebanese Journalist Joumana Haddad Denied Entrance To Bahrain Because She’s An Atheist

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Joumanal

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.

Love and support to you Joumana as always!

Joumana

Meet Five Lebanese Women That Are Doing “Men’s” work

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GR78956 Elsy Abou Zeid — Mechanical technician at Volvo

Greg Demarque from Executive Magazine interviewed five Lebanese women defying gender stereotypes and working in professions heavily dominated by men. Elsy Abou Zeid is a Mechanical Technician at Volvo, Cynthia Bitar is the owner and executive chef at Nazira Catering, Rola Hoteit works as a MEA pilot, Nancy Arbid is an aerospace engineer and Diana Salameh is a winemaker at Domaine Wardy.

Check out the full article [here] and let’s hope that we won’t be needing an International Women’s Day to recognize the importance of women and acknowledge their rights.