Category Archives: Society

#LoveWins In Lebanon Too?

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gay via Mahmoud Ghazayel

The picture above was taken in Lebanon back in 2006, however it’s not a gay parade but an anti-government demonstration led by the opposition back then. Needless to say, the parties who were organizing this demonstration (and those against them for that sake) probably had no clue what these colors stood for and would have never considered demonstrating in favor of same sex marriages.

In fact, we still live in a country where people from different religions cannot marry that easily, where civil marriage is almost considered a crime, where anal exams are used to charge men with homosexuality, where women are still being abused and tortured by their husbands, where homosexuality is portrayed as being a trend or an illness and where you are mistaken for a devil worshiper (whatever that means) for holding Friday the 13th parties.

We are still a long way from achieving equality in Lebanon but we will get there eventually as progression is inevitable. We need more awareness campaigns and further action to change our obsolete laws and achieve equality for women and for the LGBT community among other things. I’m sharing once again a Lebanese TV campaign against homophobia, probably the first of its kind in the Arab World.

#Lovewins always.

[YouTube]

white-house-rainbow The White House is illuminated in rainbow colors after today’s historic Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage in Washington – via Newsweek

Tony Khalife Has Got It All Wrong On Domestic Violence In Lebanon

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tony-khalife

I’m not really sure what is Tony Khalife’s deal with NGOs that are working against domestic violence but he has gone too far this time and his last two interventions on this issue are, according to my humble opinion, utter nonsense. Even more, he’s damaging the reputation of respectable NGOs and turning the public against them without having any scientific proof to back his claims. When he was covering the Sarah el Amine story, he was throwing false claims all over the place and even had a Sheikh on the show who kept undermining the work of NGOs. I won’t go back to this episode but focus on his latest intervention during his appearance on Al Hayat TV where he attacked once again NGOs concerned with domestic violence against women.

[YouTube]

You can watch the 4-minute long video above and here are my thoughts on it:

– Claiming that some NGOs and lawyers are interfering in internal family affairs and pushing women to file lawsuits against their abusive husbands is complete nonsense. When a man abuses his wife or his children or vice versa, it’s no longer a family affair but a social issue and NGOs are here to help these women speak out and not suffer (or die) in silence.

– Claiming that certain NGOs get paid for every woman that dies due to domestic violence is a serious accusation that needs to be backed by clear evidence. If that’s not the case, he should apologize to the NGOs in question for harming their reputation.

– Claiming that NGOs have caused an increase in the number of domestic violence victims is also a serious accusation that has no scientific evidence. If anything, these NGOs are shedding the light on more and more cases everyday that no one used to hear about them before and I’m glad Mona Abou Hamze disagreed with him on this statement.

– Refusing to admit that men are the dominant group in our society is like refusing to admit most of the Lebanese are still sectarian. We are still way behind in terms of women rights and even human rights at this point.

– Claiming that women speaking out in public in front of their sons about their abusive husband is more humiliating than their husband beating them at home in front of their kids is probably the worst thing Tony said on that night. NGOs and organizations have been working for years to help women break their silence and speak out against their abusive husbands and seek protection from the authorities and society. By asking them to keep things in the house, these women and their children will suffer in silence just like what happened with Sarah el Amine.

Moreover, being an educated and respectable person has nothing to do with domestic violence. We’ve seen how a lawyer was beating his wife in public the other day and was almost bragging about it on public TV and on your show as well. Therefore, if you come back home and you find the police waiting for you, it must be for a good reason not because NGOs and lawyers are pushing women to file random lawsuits. Last but not least, an NGO that is working to eliminate all forms of exploitation and violence against women is not entitled to report cases of domestic violence against men. If Tony Khalife feels there are a lot of men being abused by women, he should start his own NGO then and report these cases and organize demonstrations and everyone will gladly support him if he’s right.

I think it’s quite ironic that Tony Khalife is running a show to help shed the light on important topics and is criticizing at the same time NGOs that are helping shed the light on domestic violence cases and supporting women being abused by their husbands. If he feels certain NGOs are not doing their job well which is properly the case, then he should prepare a show to evaluate their work and not just throw random accusations at them. Also, he should reconsider some of the cases he’s talking about and whether they helped or harmed the people involved as well.

All in all, I think it would better if he invests more time and effort into spreading awareness on domestic violence and on ways to support the victims rather than get into a pointless war with NGOs and organizations, specially those that are closely working with the authorities.

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

Posted By :

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?

Posted By :

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

Posted By :

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

Posted By :

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]