Reclaiming Hamra from Harassment


Saturday Night 

I was casually walking back to campus, with two girlfriends of mine, when suddenly a  random – creepy, might i add – man finds himself between us and grabs my American friend, Samantha’s, butt.  Outraged, she yelled after him “F*** you!, as that was the only word she could muster up following the incident. She kept on yelling and the man who was brave enough to approach her to begin with, was running around the corner, scared that her voice would bring him trouble.

A couple of hours earlier, as we were walking up to Hamra, Samantha, Jane and I were talking about harassment in general and incidents that they both face in Lebanon. I felt obliged to apologize to them and tell that that what she has gone through in Hamra does not reflect Lebanese society or other Arabs society. However, i did admit that harassment, including sexual harassment, is a growing issue in the region. I told them, whenever they find themselves in a situation like this, they should stand their ground and fight them off. After, creepy guy ran off, i would never forget the sigh of Samantha feeling so empowered as a woman.

The story

There isn’t one really. I am a woman and men find it alright to harass me.

That’s my fault of course.

I am a vulnerable creature by nature, yet, i have all these qualities of seduction from the way I walk, talk but more importantly they way I dress. I take the streets at night [nine pm] and expose myself in order to hear the obscene and degrading words spat at me like a definition.

I bring this opun myself.

I have no boundaries; no matter what i am wearing, no matter what color skin i have, no matter where i am going, not matter what time. I am at the end nothing but a woman.

The remedy

The remedy is to reclaim our dignity, too long has man degraded us, too long has man defined us and too long has man felt it to be their right to harass us. I am proud of what I am and therefore, I am reclaiming the power and pride that long ago was pacified by man. I urge you as a woman to reclaim what is dutiful yours. More importantly, I urge man to condemn such acts and unite with their counterparts to fight this.

Harassment is a serious issue and should not be taken lightly. It is not alright for anyone to approach another without his consent, more importantly butt grabbing and sexual advances are certainly not welcomed! This issue is a growing globally, in  Egypt harassment escalated during the days of the revolution but campaigns were set up and it is being spoken about openly. Even in the West, women are getting harassed on the streets too, last year, the city of Toronto had it’s very first Slut-walk in protest of women facing -like us – harassment.

I have zero tolerance for harassment of any sort, no one can empower me but myself. So, empower your self by standing up for yourself. Like I said earlier, I’ll never forget the sensation Samantha felt after creepy guy ran off.

Anyways, I am starting with Hamra.

Join me.

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Post #SMCL | Dec. 16

Social Media changing Lives Conference by the Online collaborative at AUB can only be described as a successful event that  gathered a unique strand of bloggers and/or tweeps in one room for nine hours. But, i met new Lebanese bloggers;  the minds behind many initiatives and ideas in Lebanon; and lastly, many AUBites with promising futures.

For those who could not make it, i have  complied My list of new people,

 

  1. H.M  Ambassador to Lebanon, Tom Fletcher, was the key note speak of SMCL. He describes himself as a twiplomat, trying to survive in the terrain of SM. Check out his speech here and follow him on Twitter.
  2. Yorgui Teyrouz, is the founder of Donner Sang Compter (DSC) which is a non profit organization that is working on establishing an efficient blood donation system online in Lebanon using SM, since a national one is non existent. It is truly a great and crucial initiative, quoting Teyrouz “SM is not changing lives but saving lives.” For more information on DSC, click here and please be sure to follow Teyrouz and DSC on Twitter
  3. Nadine Moawad, a feminsit active and founder of Nasswiya .  Check out her website and follow her on Twitter.
  4. Loryne Atoui is the mind behind One Wig Stand. Inspired by her friend who was diagnosed with breast cancer, Atoui founded One Wig Stand in 2010 as a breast cancer awareness and support group based in Beirut where survivors can share their stories. I thought this is a great initiative as  topics such as cancer, in particular related to women, are a taboo in this part of the world. Check out their website for more information and follow Atoui on Twitter.
  5. Assad Thebian, is a local Media consultant and the mind behind Beirutyiat, he was a panelist on how Social media influencex decision making and gave a presentation on the impact of censorship in Lebanon. Follow him on Twitter.
  6. 3 Food blogs you should follow;  Cynthia Bu Jawde managed Strawberry Blu, a blog which specialized in Wellness, Nutrition, Dieting, & Cooking ;  Loulwa Kalache‘- a good friend and excellent cook managed Pearl’s Powder, a blog dedicated to food as a science ; and Particia Moghames who manages a nutrition blog, Paty M’s Nutrition World.
  7. Mher Krikorian is a photoblogger, a talented one might i add. At times, a picture is truly worth a thousand words, as Krikorian said, we all express ourselves differently, why not through pictures.
  8. Andrew Bossone gave one of the most interesting presentation throughout the whole of the conference, how the revolutions impacted music, art and so forth. He is definitely worth following on Twitter, please do check out his website.
  9. The last segment was dedicated to local bands who use Social Media as a platform to promote their music and connect with their fans. All are brilliant and all are worth checking out; Anthony Touma, EpiSode, LazzyLung and Poly.

Alright, I am finishing this post with Malek Teffaha’s comedy skit on how people abuse SM. Enjoy.

Rant II -Shi Libani | Inti…ya Sowda

I walk every where in Beirut because its the type of city that allows you to do so. Choosing to walk, however, also means being subjected to racist remarks, looks, finger pointing and last but not least being labeled for something I am not.

I chose to come to Beirut almost four years ago to pursue my studies, to live a different experience in the hip-modern-Paris-of-the-of-the-middle-east; Beirut. Where everything is possible but of course i was wrong.  Beirut reflects only what people see in the media or what the media allows people to see. Its complicated and it deserves another post.

The fact is,  Lebanon is a place where sectarianism is deeply rooted, tension is constantly brewing and peace is vulnerable. Nevertheless, people live, dream and many succeed in doing what they love best, only because this is Lebanon.

Lebanese people are among the most educated, skilled, specialized Arab people and tend to do well for themselves. Yet, they have a fault.

Shi Libani

I was walking down the street with a Sudani friend of mine, out of the blue, a guy walking by points his index finger right in front of her face and says “Inti a7la wahda ya Sowda” which translates to “Your the prettiest, you Black one”. Eliminating the first part of the sentence and focusing on the  latter, the guy was referring to the color of her skin. I might be over -reacting – but then again this is sort of a rant that broke the ice after four years, after four year of tolerating endless remarks, looks and unwanted feeling! I had to write and enlighten others how this impacts me.

Ya Libani

I refuse to me labeled by the color of my skin because in Lebanon being Sawda (Black) means i either work as a maid or a prostitute. I am a student who happens to live in Lebanon. The feeling I get when someone deliberately labels me without asking, without knowing my being, aggravates me. At times, it makes me resent living in Lebanon.

In every country, you find the janitor, the doctor, the driver and the diplomat, Sudan is no different. The Sudanese who come here are refugees that believe they can get to Europe through Lebanon – which a transit country. Once they arrive and realize they can’t, many opt to live here instead -illegally- of returning to an unpromising country. I, as a Sudanese, am sad to see my country men working in such conditions; overworked, underpaid, at times not treated well, imprisoned and beaten up and deprived of basic human rights. The again, who am i to talk about upholding human rights for Sudanese? When the Palestinians gain some right in Lebanon, then perhaps i can give my two pennies on the issue of Sudanese in Lebanon.

What i resent however, is the feeling many force me to feel. I live in your country – legally. I respect the culture that it, i experience the experience you do, i picked up the accent…i feel Beirutiya to an extent. So, i do not appreciate it when i walk in one of the  most hippest parts in town and be called Sawda or $*^&!  The people who are labeling me are not, Naeem, the person i buy my coffee from every morning; or the old lady who sells gum across from Universal restaurant; or  3amo Ahmed the security guard who has the M-W-F shift at Main gate. No, It is the people that are educated, traveled, experienced, well read and fortunate people…you are the supposed future of this country.  You are the one’s who are supposed to know better, know about the impact of words on others, know more about tolerance and of people from different cultures. Yet, many of you do it anyways  and this saddens me.

What i ranted about is not applicable to all Lebanese, i am fortunate to have found many Lebanese friends who share the same views as mine, who apologies constantly and  are more aggravated then i am on this issue.

The moral of this rant is simple; weight the words you use and the things you say. Calling me “Ya Sawda”, is racist.

Wa7da Sudaniya fi Beirut.