Joe Semaan: The Fraud Faking Being Lebanese Police To Abuse Foreign Maids

Meet Joe Semaan, another entity for us to add to the growing list of filth associated with Lebanon and whose mere existence is a waste of space, and an abomination to every single inch of advancement we’re trying to make in the many transgressions against human rights in this country.

I was told about Joe yesterday by a couple of activists who are trying to advance migrant worker rights in Lebanon, and highlighting the many transgressions against them as well as the immense repercussions that the abuse our law permits has on their well-being. It’s only yesterday that an Ethiopian maid committed suicide by jumping off the balcony of the 7th floor apartment where she was working. In fact, the rates of suicide and deaths of migrant workers in the country are worse than that and will be talking about them in a future post.

Returning to Joe, it seems that our macho man was utterly bored at his meaningless existence which led him to disguise himself as a police officer, which is a crime as far as I know, and persecute migrant workers whose unfortunate paths cross his, leading him to harass them about where they’re working, where the money they have is from, and eventually raping them.

This kind of filth has had many victims, with one filipino worker’s message resonating with many others who have fallen prey to his crimes.

The post, on This Is Lebanon, reads as follows:

I would like to share about a Lebanese man that is pretending to be a policeman and catching foreigners like Filipinos, Ethiopians, Sri Lankans and Bangladeshi, especially those who don’t have documents. He has a white colored jeep but I don’t have the plate number. His name is Joe Semaan and you can find him on Facebook.

This is what happened to me. I was going home from work and was at Makallis Roundabout near to May Supermarket. A jeep stopped and the driver asked me for my residency permit. Unfortunately, I don’t have one so he forced me to get in his car and because I was afraid of him, I got in.

He asked me what was in my bag and I told him nothing. He asked me if I had alcohol or drugs and he checked inside. My bag is small and I had a little wallet inside which had $200 in it. He asked me angrily where I had got the money from and I told him it was from my salary. He asked me where I worked and who my sponsor was. He said he’d take me to my sponsor’s place so he could talk to him so I said ok, but when he was driving I noticed that he was going the wrong way (we were on the road to Monsourieh). I told him he was going in the wrong direction and that we were near my work place.

He told me he’d decided to take me to the police station. I begged him not to take me to the police as I needed to work to support my children in the Filippines. He told me it was my lucky day but I needed to do him a favour. I asked him what it was and he told me, “You are the one who knows what I want.” I told him I didn’t know what he wanted and he told me I had to sleep with him. I said, “Aren’t you afraid I might have HIV?” and he said he had a condom. I begged him for mercy and he said, “If you don’t want to sleep with me, give me a blow job”; I told him I’d rather go to the police station.

He drove me far above Monsourieh to where there were no houses. I told him I wouldn’t sleep with him and he should take me to the police. I asked him if I could call my boyfriend to tell him that I’d been caught and was being taken to the police but he wouldn’t let me call. Thank God, he let me go and dropped me at Abu Khalil Supermarket near Makallis. Before he dropped me off, he told me, “Next time I see you, you must get in my car quickly without me even talking to you.” I asked him his name and he told me it was Elie Haddad.

As soon as I got out, I ran home. When I got home I checked my wallet and found the $200 had gone. I cried a lot. He told me before he let me go that I would never forget this day. I told my friend what had happened and my friend said, “I know that man. I was also picked up by him in Bikfaya. I saw him on Facebook under the name of Joe Semaan. That was 3 years ago. He does it all the time.”

When I searched for him on Facebook, I found him. His profile pic was of the same man that picked me up. He works for an insurance company and lives in Antelias. When I saw him on Facebook, I saved his picture and created a group on Facebook to warn other Filipinos about him. Within an hour many, many people responded to the post saying that they also were victims. Not only Filipinos but also Ethiopians said they’d been picked up by him. We are asking for help from different organisations so that his man will be stopped. I am scared to testify but all his victims should unite and testify against him.

Such filth cannot run unchecked anymore. Lebanon’s ISF needs to get on top of it and arrest him, as well as make sure he cannot harm any other person anymore.

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Malek Maktabi’s Story of Zainab & Her Sri Lankan Mother Deepa Is A Disgrace To The Lebanese State

I am angry. Nay, angry is an understatement, I am livid. Anger wasn’t the only thing I felt yesterday. I was also deeply ashamed to be a citizen of a country where the story that Malek Maktabi’s show, in a rare instance of journalistic integrity, portrayed not only could happen, but is probably part of a bigger array of stories just waiting to be told.

The story, summarized, is as follows:

In 1991, Deepa Darmasiri was a Sri Lankan working as a housekeeper at a Lebanese household in the South. The husband in the household she was working in, whose name was always bleeped out and never mentioned, one day raped Deepa at knife-point, leading her to become pregnant.

Deepa did not want to get an abortion because she “never could imagine not meeting her child.” So she carried the baby to term. To make his rape legal and to be able to register the baby, that scumbag of a man exercised his religiously given right to polygamy and married Deepa.

Once Deepa gave birth, he took the baby girl whom he named Zainab – Deepa wanted to name her Huda – and got the mother deported back to her country, never to see or hear from her daughter ever again.

The story of a Lebanese daughter searching for her Sri Lankan mother is a heartbreaking reminder of how horrifying Lebanese patriarchy is. What’s worse is that Zainab is not a lone example of the disgusting state that our demented patriarchal laws have led us to.

Deepa is a victim on so many levels. She’s a victim for being a woman living in a country (and a world in the bigger sense) that sees her gender as inferior, both actually and legally. She’s a victim of Lebanese personal status law, placing her as inferior to her husband in all regards, even in the matter of him being able to divorce her as easily as he did, leading her to getting deported. She’s the victim of being from a nationality that we, as a country, deem as lesser. Because, you know, we as Lebanese are the creme de la creme and everyone else be damned.

Side note: Sri Lanka has better infrastructure than this dismal country currently has and will probably have for years to come. They have faster internet, 24/7 electricity, better water coverage and their women are more equal to men. But please, tell me more about how we think they’re inferior because they come work here in jobs we would never partake in, or because they’re black, or maybe because they’re not originally Phoenicians, or because any nationality that is not White and Western is one that we look down to thinking we are so much better.

News flash: we are not. Not even close. Deepa’s story shows how rotten to the core this country is.

Get this: we live in a country where a man was able to rape, impregnate, have the woman carry the child to term, take her baby away, have her deported NEVER to be able to come back again and still roam free.

Why? Because this is Lebanese patriarchy. This is how it works. Men are always superior. Lebanese are superior to non-Lebanese especially if those non-Lebanese don’t have a strong country to be able to defend them, and it’s just disgraceful. How is this man considered a human being, I wouldn’t know. He’s an abomination, pure and simple. Not only is that man still roaming free, never seeing a jail cell in his life for all the disgusting things he’s done, but he’s also probably protected by some politician down South that makes him impenetrable.

The disgraceful thing is that what he did was not illegal according to Lebanese law. He was perfectly within his rights as a man to do what he did to Deepa and to her daughter Zainab.

How horrifying is it that this man overpowered a helpless migrant worker, raped her, violated ALL her rights, her only fault being coming to this country to seek a better future for herself?

How horrifying is it that this man didn’t care in the least about his daughter, about the fact he brought her into this world as a result of raping a helpless woman after holding a knife to her throat?

How horrifying is it that Deepa had no one to run to, no one to help her, that our ministries of social affairs and labor wouldn’t have cared about her plight, about the fact she was violated that way?

Zainab and Deepa’s story is precisely why our laws need to be changed and I hope it provides the much needed catalyst for NGOs dealing with migrant workers to have a louder platform from which to proclaim their very rightful demands.

We cannot and should not be allowed to have an upper hand over workers who come from any country in the world just because they are coming to work here. We cannot and should not be allowed to have our men hold an upper hand over our women or any women wherever they come from, just because they happened to be born with a set of XY chromosomes.

We cannot and should not allow anyone to do what that scumbag did and still be allowed to roam free, unchecked and unpunished. As long as our laws allow them too, some men will do what this creature did, and others have probably done so plenty of times already. How many more Zainbas are out there because our state has enabled the perpetuation of this, because of our patriarchy and our sense that we are better than other “lesser” nationalities? It’s just disgraceful, and shameful.

What’s even more shameful are those who were bothered by this topic being discussed, under the pretext that it’s not New Year’s Eve material. Wake the hell up. This is a reality that is part of this wretched country every single day. You getting sad for a few seconds is upsetting you? You realizing this country’s laws are messed up to say the least is distressing you and ruining your party spirit? Deepa and her daughter Zainab never had any New Year Eves together because of the apathy of people like you.

42 days after she met her daughter, Deepa passed away probably from cancer. She couldn’t be flown to Lebanon to spend the remainder of her days with her daughter because getting a Lebanese visa to a Sri Lankan is near-impossible. This goes back again to our country thinking it’s better than others while our own citizens beg at the door of embassies for visas for other countries to seek out better futures.

I commend Malek Maktabi on his work with Zainab and Deepa’s story, and I sincerely hope this doesn’t stop at it being a NYE special to get viewers worked up. This should be as daily a conversation as possible, to hopefully reach a place where Lebanon’s state doesn’t perpetuate the existence of more Zainabs and more Deepas.

Deepa Darmasiri, rest in peace you beautiful gorgeous human being.

Lebanese MP Elie Marouni Blames Lebanese Women For Getting Raped

elie-marouni

She was asking for it is the excuse of every sexual predator out there to justify his insatiable thirst in violating the body of a woman who was not asking for it.

She was wearing a skirt too tight or too short. Her blouse was too revealing. She was flirting. Anything a woman does that can be interpreted in that rapist’s brain as an advance is considered as her “asking for it” without her being as such at all.

Now how about that mentality perpetuating in the mind of yet another misogynistic Lebanese who not only  has a wide platform to speak from, but also has the job to make sure women are a protected entity in society by legislating the laws for that purpose.

Zahle Kataeb MP Elie Marouni decided that standing up for women rights was not something on his agenda nor was it something he’s probably willing to entertain. Keep in mind, this man is responsible for making sure women are protected when they are raped, when they’re victims of domestic violence, just to name a few.

In a recent press conference (link), Marouni was not a fan of allowing Lebanese women to grant their nationality to their children. Why? Because we have a lot of Palestinians and Syrians (also known as very scary Muslims) who would “change the country’s demographics.”

That wasn’t the best part, however. When asked about the Lebanese penal code law that stipulates that a rapist can marry his victim whereby absolving him of his crime. His reply was as follows: “In some instances, one has to wonder about the woman that pushes a man to rape her. Thank you!”

He was thankful for the applause he got. Some of that applause was probably out of women as well for that horrifying statement. Yes, because it’s that unfathomable for Marouni apparently that a man should probably keep it in his pants until the woman “pushing” him says yes.

A feminist activist rose up to the occasion on the spot and chastised him for his statement, saying she was “ashamed” to have someone like him represent her in parliament. Marouni was then “offended” that she was ashamed.

“If only that woman whose name I don’t know and I don’t want to know who objected in such an offensive way had waited until the end of the conference to see how many women had taken their picture with me.”

Yes, because people posing for pictures with you is exactly the standard by which one judge’s your sexism and misogyny. That sad moment when a Lebanese MP is more taken aback by the fact that someone challenged his backward dogma than by the fact he thinks it’s okay in some cases for men to rape women in 2016.

Dear Mr. Marouni, I’m also ashamed to have you as a Lebanese MP, legislating (or not) on my behalf in any function, being a person who does not understand that people’s sanctity is holy. Also, being ashamed at you is not “offending” you. It’s probably the most courteous thing one could tell you at such a statement given the circumstances.

Why don’t you think about your female relatives for once? Put yourself in their shoes if only for a moment to see how despicable it is for their brother, their son, etc.. to say that them being violated can sometimes be justified or that they can sometimes be blamed for having a man force himself on them.

Mr. Marouni, this is the discourse in which you are taking away a woman’s right to her own body away from her, like almost every other right in this God forsaken country that has been taken away from those same women you believe can be sometimes blamed for being raped.

I fail to see how anyone such as you can be trusted to come up and defend laws that defend every single Lebanese person in any aspect. Granted, you are doing none of that, but in the hypothetical scenario that you might, how am I supposed not to be ashamed that the laws of my country are being ratified by men with such a mentality?

But please, by all means, keep on thinking women posing for pictures with you is enough justification for you thinking they’re open season.

 

Three Men Raped A 16 Year Old Girl From Tripoli… But They Won’t Go To Jail

Welcome to the land of where the value of women is contingent upon the flap of skin resting at the precipice of their vagina, where their rights are fluctuating based on the mood of the men that enable them and where our girls are taught, from the moment they open their eyes, that them being the second sex does not invoke otherness but rather rank.

A few days ago, in the Northern city that I love, a 16 year old girl was a victim of the Lebanese condition three times.

She was the victim of this sex but no sex country, where the level of repression we instill in our people is so high that some find the only way to release is to violate other people’s sanctity. That girl was violated by three men in one of Tripoli’s suburban areas.

Her ordeal did not end there, however. Following the breaking of the news, Lebanon’s media saw it best not only to discuss her ordeal at length, but to give out her full name for everyone to read, to diffuse and to memorize. Not only was this helpless, violated woman a victim of the barbaric horny men who saw her body as nothing more than a piece of meat, she was also victimized by a media system that saw her horror as nothing more than an opportunity for them to title their articles and news reports with: “in names, in pictures and in video.”

And then she became the victim of a judicial and political system that will now see the men that violated her go out of jail, with the only thing about them harmed being their ego that has been bruised, not that would matter because, at the end of the day, they will remain men with penises that can fuck whichever vagina they please and she will remain a girl who has lost that flap of skin and as such is relegated to another level of human worth.

The father of the girl in question dropped the charges under the pretext that his daughter had consensual sex with the aforementioned men. Yes, because the story that she was actually raped is just so hard to believe so it’s spun, under pressure from all kinds of kinds, into a story in which she wanted to have three men take turns on her, not that it matters because one marriage proposal would’ve fixed this in the eyes of the law anyway.

Yes, it’s easier to believe that the girl whose rights are being violated the same way her body was willingly had sex with three men than to believe the three men that had her are being backed by a certain political side in Tripoli to make sure they get out of this unharmed.

Yes, it’s easier for three men to rape a woman in Lebanon, leave her bruised, with traumatic memories to last her a life time, than it is for me to name the politician in question in this piece, or in the hypothetical scenario of tweeting something bad about that fictional Lebanese president of ours. We sure have our priorities sorted out people.

It’s easier for people in our country to believe that this woman had consensual sex than to believe she was raped. It’s easier for people to make up all kinds of excuses than to look at what happened right in the face and try to advance our society a little bit forward. It’s not what she’s wearing. It’s not how she’s acting. It’s not related to anything about her except that she did not want to have sex, and yet she was forced to.

Welcome to the country where the husband of Manal Assi, who murdered her in cold blood in domestic abuse, gets less jail time than someone caught smoking pot. I have no words. I hope one day the girl in question finds a state of mind in which she can sleep at night.

Untold Stories of Rape in Lebanon

I didn’t know prior to yesterday that many people thought stories of rape couldn’t possibly go undetected for years. I didn’t know prior to yesterday that somehow I lived in my own version of Lebanese reality where I’m exposed to little tidbits of everything that most of us hear about in theory, in realms of fiction we never think would happen to people who are close to us in any way.

News of rape attempts surfaced frequently over the past few days. Some were verified (link), others are still just stories and may have been made up, causing a disservice to every single person out there in this country still feeling the sting of the pain but going through their days anyway.

Because there’s this notion that rape in Lebanon, and possibly other countries, surfaces quickly and cannot go unnoticed for a long period of time, I will be going up close and personal with the stories of two people I know personally very well. Only those few people who are deeply familiar with their story will know who they are. But the following stories are 100% accurate and have happened here, around every single one of us.

Story #1:

She was sitting in Deir l Salib with her psychiatrist facing her, asking her all the questions she never thought she’d have to answer. When did it start? 1997. How did it start? He was her employer. What did he do? So many things.
She remembered the first time he forced himself on her. How he threatened her he’d hunt down her family members with his influence if she ever dared speak. She remembered how she’d come to the office and see him naked on the couch, his semen all over the carpet. He had just had a prostitute over. She remembered as he forced her to clean the mess. She remembered as he peed on the carpet as she cleaned. She remembered holding back the tears.
She remembered all the weddings she didn’t go through. She remembered feeling excited about those invitation cards, doing her hair and painting her nails only to get a phone call prohibiting her from attending… Or else. She’d fight with her family in order to get them not to want to take her with them anymore. There was nothing else she could do.
She remembered all the possible marriages that passed by her over the year. She remembered the physician who lived in Canada and found her to be of exquisite beauty. She remembered turning him down because he wouldn’t let her go.
1997 was when it started. 2009 was when she cracked. 12 years has turned her in into a different woman, a different person. She wouldn’t be the same ever again.

Story #2:

He was a seven year old student at one of the country’s many primary schools. He was anything but calm, constantly finding himself in trouble. He raised his hand and asked his teacher for permission to use the restroom. She dismissed him. He hopped his way to the bathroom, entered the cubicle and stood there as a middle aged man faced him with a menacing look on his face.
The little boy tried to escape him but couldn’t. The man grabbed the boy, cupped his mouth so he wouldn’t scream and unzipped his pants.
The boy couldn’t remember anything of what happened afterwards. The man threatened him in order to keep quiet. He returned to class with pee all over his pants. He tried to hide it but couldn’t. His class made fun of him and he sat there crying because there was nothing else he could do.
When he got home, he snuck past his mother and spilled water on his pants to hide the stain. He then threw it in with the laundry. She would never know. And he didn’t tell anyone what happened with him that day. He didn’t know if they’d understand. He didn’t know if they’d believe him. He didn’t know if they’d help.
He held his story in and didn’t tell it to anyone until he turned 23.

That woman and that boy know they can’t get their past back in order to have a different version of their future and present. And here we are telling them that we live in a place where we really can’t do anything for them, where they’ll just have to make do with the hand they’re dealt. Because that’s how things simply are.

A Rape Attempt in Hamra

A 20 year old girl recently suffered through a rape attempt while going back to her apartment in Hamra. The man followed her to her apartment where he attacked her and ordered her not to scream. But she did scream. So he beat her up and she kept on screaming until the neighbors and people on the street ran towards her.

The man was given to authorities. The man was a married man with children and who worked with our army, an entity theoretically tasked with making sure our women and children are protected from the travesties that living in Lebanon entail.

I salute that woman’s courage. Not only for standing up to her rapist and shouting her lungs out despite him threatening her life, but for having the courage to stand up to him when he was taken into custody and tell her story for the world to hear.

A friend of mine was sexually assaulted in Gemmayze almost a year ago (her story). It wasn’t as physical as the story in question but what my friend and that woman are is lucky Lebanese women.

How many more stories that are similar or worse than this should we propagate and hear before we get a law that makes sure that, if the worst case scenario were to happen, the rapist in question wouldn’t roam the streets with the least repercussions possible?

How many more times should I hear the phrase “you’re lucky you’re a guy” from friends who happen to be girls and who are afraid to walk certain streets alone at night? Till when are our women supposed to live in legal and protective dark ages while the country boasts liberalism that is truly anything but?

And till when should the violation of our women be a matter of taboo that should rarely be discussed through public means?

Myriam Achkar’s Murderer Gets The Death Sentence

Myriam Achkar

Syrian Fathi Jabr al-Salatine who brutally murdered Myriam Achkar last year just got the death sentence for his crime. For those who don’t remember, Achkar – a devout Christian girl – was on her way to a monastery in Sahel Alma to pray when she was ambushed by the Syrian who worked at the convent. He tried to force himself on her. She resisted. He couldn’t rape her so he ended up killing her.

I was personally skeptical he’d even receive a trial and at one point, it looked like the Syrian authorities had asked he be deported to Syria where he would get a trial. A Syrian trial obviously meant nothing would happen to Al-Salatine. I’m glad that didn’t happen – and the death penalty is what this man deserves.

A lot of you may be against the death penalty and consider it a breach of human rights. I disagree. You can’t understand a family’s need to get a death penalty conviction against the person who murdered one of them in such a brutal way unless you’re one of those families. And mine is.