May Baaklini

Will all the ladies please stand up?

Image courtesy of www.thewildmagazine.com

This is unacceptable. I am talking about the devastating cases of abuse against women that have been increasing in numbers as a result of procrastination and ignorance. Lately everything I hear, watch, or read includes incidents of rape, gang rape, sodomy, or other sexual offenses against women and children. This has to stop. How far should sexually repressed offenders have to go in order to attract an outraged national and international response? Has it become so prevalent in our society that people now just look the other way? Has it become so customary that women have chosen to dress more conservatively in order to avoid sexual, verbal or physical abuse? Has online activism made us passive activists? Why have so many women chosen to turn the other cheek? Are they waiting for someone to lead them in the war against sexism, extremism, and impunity?

Egyptian women have finally voiced their fury and indignation at the lack of proper law implementation and fair punishments. Lebanese women are thriving to pass a law, which would prohibit men from sexually, verbally, and physically assaulting their wives or even members of their own family. Iranian women made a bold statement by emulating a Swedish campaign and protested topless on the streets. They cried out against the Iranian regime’s treatment of women and voiced their concerns on other issues they are facing today in the socially conservative societies of the Middle East and elsewhere. Women in India are caught in a vicious struggle against the oppressive caste system that continues to dominate Indian politics and society. Malala, the young Children’s Rights activist has made a name for herself for challenging the Taliban’s extremist laws.

However, not enough is being done to reverse this mentality in our society. I was at the “Women on the Front Lines” Conference last week, which was held at the Phoenicia Hotel by the MCF Media Institute and the last panel was the most interesting discussion I had ever witnessed. One of the journalists shared a horrific story, which entailed her being groped by men while reporting from Egypt. She said that the “sexual repression is remarkable” and that even though she is terribly scarred from the whole incident, she said that the whole situation is bigger than herself and that more should be done (more than just passing laws and punishing offenders).

In addition, earlier that day, Mrs. Nayla Mouawad mentioned that Lebanese and Arab women tend to complain a lot about the lack of quotas in having women included in the political scene and yet they don’t seem to do much about it (I don’t mean completely but rather generally). I also think that Lebanese women are not fighting hard enough to pass equality laws. Even after fighting side by side with men against tyrants and dictators, Arab women still seem to be pushed aside and left behind. I am not saying that we are not trying, I am merely pointing out that not enough is being done. Just like many of us have succeeded in toppling dictators and tyrants, there’s no reason why we cannot finally defeat sexism and oppression. It will take more than just a sit in and annual or biannual awareness campaigns. It will have to take gut wrenching decisions and actions rather than merely liking, sharing, or viewing websites we consider helpful. Where are the pressure groups? Will you show yourselves please? Let us not let the victims fend for themselves; let us not let them fight the battle for us. Will you show yourselves please?

Image courtesy of www.thewildmagazine.com

Just like many of us have succeeded in toppling dictators and tyrants, there’s no reason why we cannot finally defeat sexism and oppression.