Lebanon’s Is The 8th Worst Country In The World For Women Rights

Earlier today, Lebanese minister of internal affairs Nouhad el Machnouk gave an impassioned speech celebrating International Women’s Day in which he proclaimed Lebanese women are not that far behind compared to their male counterpart in the country, something that no other country in the region has achieved. In coming to that conclusion, Machnouk was in part reliant on the fact that Lebanese women were named among the world’s sexiest.

Congrats Lebanese ladies, your value is now directly correlated to your rack and how tight-clad your skirts are. Cue in the applause.

I’m sure this comes as no surprise for a governing body that is as disenchanted and disenfranchised from the population it’s governing as Lebanon’s governments, both current and past. The garbage on our streets is proof enough for that. 

The thing about Lebanon, however, is that it is the center of multiple international studies, as are most countries around the world, especially when it comes to the gender gap and women rights. Among those international studies is one carried out by the World Economic Forum, which was published in mid November 2015. 

That study’s findings can be summarized in the following infographic by LA Times’ Priya Krishnakumar:

Gender Gap worldwide

This puts us on a shameful list of countries where the gender gap is so severe that the term second sex does not delineate an other-hood but rather inferiority. We are 8th in the worst countries in the world when it comes to equality between men and women, adding it to another worst-of-list for us to be “proud” of.

Happy international women’s day my fellow Lebanese.

Our women can’t pass on our beautiful citizenship to their children, but what matters is that they can wear whatever they want (if their male family members deem it appropriate).

Our women have single-digit representation in a triple-digits parliament, but what matters is that one of those representatives is stunning (and would make a healthy argument to being on that sexiest countries list).

Our women’s wages are always inferior to their male counterparts in the country, but what matters is that those men have no problem spending the money on those women (because financial independence is so passé).

Our women’s participation in the workforce is inferior to their male counterparts in the country, but what matters certainly is those women’s job as housewives, bringing up generations (of children whose girls grow up to be just like their mothers and whose boys grow up just like their fathers).

Our women can get beaten to death legally at the hand of their spouse with no legal protection against that domestic abuse, but what matters is obviously for that man to remain the dominant figure in that household, his word never repeated twice.

Faced with such a reality, some of us Lebanese will look at that list and say: but Saudi Arabia isn’t there. Women can’t even drive there. Yes, because looking up to Saudi Arabia is obviously the best way for our society to move forward. There’s more to women rights than getting behind the wheel of a car.

If our governing bodies think that the entirety of Lebanese women is summarized by the touristy reports they see about Mar Mkhayel on a Saturday night, it’s our duty as Lebanese to be aware that our country extends beyond its party streets.

I hope Lebanon ends up on the other part of that infographic one day. Such a drift will not happen if we don’t all contribute to putting our women forward. These upcoming municipal elections, encourage your mothers and sisters to run. Encourage all our women who are so excellent at what they do to propagate their excellence onto a bigger medium. Mentalities need to change, and that is the best way to do so.

Until then, less Nouhad el Machnouk empty propaganda, and more reality please. Happy International Women’s Day, everyone.

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Lebanese Women Are 10th Sexiest Worldwide

Lebanese women

I stumbled on an article published in The Independent today talking about an American survey to pinpoint the world’s sexiest nationalities among both men and women. To that effect, 60,000 women were polled and it turns out Irish men are their favorite. It could be the accent.

Lebanese men, however, are not in the top 10. I suppose “ya ashta” doesn’t translate well to the average American woman? Our life has been a lie.

On the other hand of the gender spectrum, however, Lebanese women represent.

In another poll of nearly 45,000 men, Lebanese women ranked at #10 on the list of the world’s sexiest nationalities. The #1 sexiest women of the world according to that poll were Armenians, fueled by American adoration to Kim Kardashian and her family.

The full list of nationalities is as follows:

  • Armenian

  • Barbadian/Bajan

  • American

  • Colombian

  • English

  • Australian

  • Brazilian

  • Filipina

  • Bulgarian

  • Lebanese

The Lebanese woman that was found to be in the forefront of the survey was none other than Amal Alamuddin, a person that I find is an extremely good example to represent Lebanese women, not only looks-wise. She is extremely accomplished and successful, is a champion at defending human rights worldwide and has been all over the place the past few months with representing Armenia in European hearings to defending captured journalists in Egypt.

I say we dodged a bullet by not having Mia Khalife represent us, right?

The value behind this survey isn’t as simple as naming a representative celebrity. Being done by an American dating website, it’s also about real-life encounters with people of said nationalities. As a country that gets anxious whenever we’re mentioned in the same sentence as the word “sex,” especially when our women’s hymens are at stake – honor and all, I think it’s wonderful that our women are becoming so comfortable with themselves abroad, comfortable in their own skin, away from the confines of a society that is all about sex, but not really sex, sex.

Ultimately, surveys like this are not entirely worthwhile. But a little fun every now and then never hurt anyone.

 

Lebanese Priest Caught On Video Sexually Assaulting A Woman

Rima Karaki is on a roll. After making international headlines around the world for shutting up the Islamist Hani Al Siba’i, her show’s most recent episode is dropping a bombshell of an equal, but less international, caliber.

A priest has been filmed on camera sexually harassing and assaulting a woman, from showing her his penis, asking her to jack him off, to asking her if her vagina was tidy and tight. It’s utterly disgusting.

It starts with a meeting with the priest over some business matter. Eventually, the man starts to hit on the reporter (he doesn’t know she is one, obviously). After inquiring about her living arrangements, he invites her to stay at his local.

From there on out, he starts to talk about his libido.

Lebanese Priest NewTV - 5

Suppose we want to sleep together.

 

In hypothetical scenarios of course. “Suppose we want to sleep together,” he tells her, before going on a tirade about his sexual prowess. Yes, he is 70 but he can still fuck like a stud. And he doesn’t take viagra!

Lebanese Priest NewTV - 8

I don’t do it more than twice a week. Even once sometimes.

 

He only sleeps around once or twice a week.

Lebanese Priest NewTV - 7

It has to be completely secret. My social status cannot permit gossip.

Lebanese Priest NewTV - 6

I’m a man and the woman I want should keep my position and dignity.

 

After all, he is a priest and his position in society demands high levels of privacy and secrecy. No gossip allowed when it comes to him, of course.

Lebanese Priest NewTV - 9

I want your vagina to be tidy and clean. Is it tight or loose?

 

And of course, the highlight of the conversation is to know whether her vagina, or as he calls it “at’out,” is clean and nice and whether it is tight or not.

Lebanese Priest NewTV - 1

I’ll pull it out and show it to you… take it…

Lebanese Priest NewTV - 2

Play with it… It’s soft.

 

And then there are the sexual advances, from flashing her his penis and asking her to jack him off and get it erect.

Lebanese Priest NewTV - 13

– Show me… Take it off. – Take what off?

 

To asking her to flash him as well.

Lebanese Priest NewTV - 10

– Get away from me. What do you want from me? – A kiss… and it’s enough.

 

To try and kiss her forcibly.

Lebanese Priest NewTV - 12

– Isn’t this against religion? – Why are you afraid?

 

To not even caring when she brings up that what he’s doing is against the religion he should be preaching. When it comes to being horny, that holy cloak is dropped like the last piece of leaf covering up Venus’ crotch. Here’s a link for the full video:

The tragedy of the matter doesn’t stop here. While watching the video and feeling horrified at what that man was doing, the true horror was on the right side of the screen in the comments section as people, including women, tried to DEFEND what he was doing.

NewTV Priest Lebanon Sex - 1

This is disgusting and has nothing to do with Christianity. The question to ask is why are they targeting only Christian religious men?

 

There were those who clearly see this as an anti-Christian campaign. Why else would anyone want to discuss this ever? Because Rima Karaki didn’t, just last week, make global ridicule of an Islamist!

NewTV Priest Lebanon Sex -2

He’s a wise-ass and she’s a slut. Her voice is irresistible.

 

And there were those who blamed her for being a whore with an irresistible voice. How could any man resist?

NewTV Priest Lebanon Sex -3

Since this TV station and its reporters are whores, doing this report clearly shows that the priest is innocent… Would they dare do this to non-Christian religious men? Or is it because they know our religion is that of peace and mercy they attack us? A day will come where you will fall to the hands of people who will make sure you forget what your profession is.

 

And there’s the one who thinks NewTV and its reporters (females) are whores, which clearly shows that the priest is innocent. And of course NewTV wouldn’t do this had the religious man not been Christian. I mean, can they even?

NewTV Priest Lebanon Sex -4

They’re sending her to seduce him and then they’re glad they caught him… go home.

 

Support to the priest also comes from non-Christian Lebanese. When it comes to penises, men must stick together. How dare that woman try to seduce the priest?

NewTV Priest Lebanon Sex -6

Good for him. She’s a slut.

 

Certainly the woman is to blame.

NewTV Priest Lebanon Sex -7

Don’t you have anything other than religious men to talk about? Go see politicians and their actions. Disgusting media.

 

And it’s all clearly an LBC and NewTV led propaganda because there’s no way a priest can do this. The priest in question tried to defend his “honor” by accusing NewTV of fabricating the video and sending a woman to seduce him.

Not All Priests Are Bad… But This One Is Rotten:

Being born and raised Christian, going to a catholic school and being around churches all my life, I can attest to not all priests being bad. One bad priest does not ruin the whole. Some are men who actually follow the teachings of their religion and who try to help people to the best of their capacities.

This priest, however, is beyond rotten. What he’s doing cannot be defended. NewTV wouldn’t have sent an undercover reporter to his office hadn’t they known about his practices. They should have shown his face. They should have said his name.

How many women has he molested before? How many women has he sexually assaulted? How many women has he slept with? How many women thought they had no other options but to sleep with him? How many people has this priest terrorized through Sunday sermons into sexual repression, of fearing their bodies, for the sake of being chaste to God?

How disgusting is this man to think that “women seducing him” is an excuse to be such a revolting man whose vows of chastity were not only thrown out of the window, but burned at the altar of the Church he serves?

His Church should strip him of his cloak, and ban him from all his religious practices.

How horrifying is it to think that there are people in this country who think that just because someone is a priest or a religious man can absolve the horrible things that those people do? How scary is it that there are people, even now, who can fathom defending such a man just because of the way he prays and who think that TV stations have an ulterior motive other than to get people talking?

Do people really think that the Lebanese Church, whichever this priest belonged to, would have done anything about him even if they had known? The Vatican is barely doing anything about the pedophiles.

I’m sure this isn’t a one incident thing. There are probably plenty of priests and sheikhs in the country doing worse than this, to age groups that are even younger. Before you try and defend this scum or even agree with him that the station trapped him, think about all the people who have fallen victim to them and who don’t have a voice to defend them.

A priest does not a holy man make. Religion does not a good person make. Repeat after me.

Update:

New TV met with the priest for an interview that he requested. His name is Antoun Farah, currently the head of a Lebanese charity for the handicapped. Obviously, he claimed that the video is fabricated… but he refused to meet the woman whom he harassed. He was shown his face on the video without the blurs and he was still adamant that it wasn’t him.

How so, he was asked. I don’t know was his reply.

The fact that he’s not a priest practicing in a parish does not change anything in the way he should be dealt with. What’s scarier is that he was stopped from practicing in a Church due to a previous scandal that may have involved sexual harassment as well and still the Lebanese Church in charge of him did not think it would be best if he were stripped of his religious title.

Let me put it this way: if any priest is faced with anybody in front of them, naked to the skin and tempting them, it is their job not just to resist temptation but to cover those people up. Such a disgusting man.

Why Rima Karaki Shutting Up The Islamist Hani Al Siba’i Is Super Important To Middle Eastern Women Rights

The video of Rima Karaki shutting up Hani Al-Siba’i couldn’t come at a more appropriate time for the region. Its rise in popularity happens to take place one day before International Women’s Day.

He is an Egyptian Islamist who is now residing in London after fleeing Egypt where he faces charges for the support of Islamists. He is BFF’s with Al Zarqawi and thinks Bin Laden is to be respected. He’s a pile or hypocrisy: someone who wants to implement the sharia’h… but lives in London. He’s a defense lawyer… but can’t handle an argument.

Out of all people that interviewed him over the times, Lebanese TV presenter Rima Karaki drew the thickest line. She wore a veil out of respect to his presence (even if through satellite from London), and he ended up demanding she shut up for trying to direct the conversation in a manner suitable for her TV show.

She did the opposite and cut him off right there on air, stopping him from spewing even more hate and disrespect to her and, indirectly, to Middle Eastern and Arab women everywhere.

Hani Al Siba’i is a representation of the sheikhs roaming our lands who think everyone should abide by the rules they have in mind, who think they have the right to shut up a woman just because she dared speak up and who have the audacity to not only request it, but shout it on platforms that always give them a megaphone.

In those 2 minutes, Rima Karaki did something that many women in the region are too afraid to do: stand up to a bully who happens to be protected by religious establishments and fear that allow him to thrive.

Rima Karaki - 1

When Al Siba’i tried to intimidate her, she stood her ground and still tried to take the harness of the interview away from his monologue.

Rima Karaki - 2

Instead, she told Al Siba’i something that probably no other woman he ever encountered has ever told him: she would be the one taking the decision.

Rima Karaki - 3

So because this was all too weird and foreign to him, Al Siba’i reverted to what he knows best and told Rima to shut up.

Rima Karaki - 6

So while trying to be respectful, Rima Karaki answered back. I’m sure he wasn’t used to getting that thrown in his face… ever.

Rima Karaki - 5

So naturally, he reverted to full blown sexism and disrespect to bring Rima down. She didn’t budge. She cut his mic off and then his feed.

In those 2 minutes, Rima Karaki did what every single person, let alone women, should do to people like Al Siba’i: cut them off. I couldn’t not find myself rooting for her. There’s nothing sweeter and more beautiful seeing a woman standing up to someone like him in that manner, someone who hates women and contributes every single day to their detriment.

If I were her, I would have thrown away the veil too, just as the Egyptian anchor did a couple of years ago (link).

Ironically, in those 2 minutes NewTV produced the best TV in their history. This is the full video:

On March 8th, 2015 this is the view across the Middle East and Arab world:

  • Women in Lebanon are not allowed to pass on their citizenship to their children. They are not protected by a decent law against domestic abuse.
  • Women in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to have authority over their own self; their male relatives do. They cannot go anywhere without male chaperones. They are not allowed to run for any government body that is allowed to legislate. They are not allowed to drive. They aren’t allowed to go out without wearing appropriate religious attire.
  • Women in Jordan are still the victims of rampant domestic violence and honor killings.
  • Women in the U.A.E. can face jail time if they are ever caught engaging in pre-marital sex, or drinking.
  • Women in Egypt are still the victims of female circumcision, a barbaric practice whose sole purpose is to decrease their sexual drive.
  • Women in Kuwait and Qatar cannot pass their citizenships to their children. They’ve also only recently, and very limitedly, started to try and become more engaged in the political life of their country.
  • Women in Iraq are being forced, in some parts of the country, to wear head scarves and traditional abayas to cover up. Their political presence only stems from the quota required to be filled by women according to law there.

We live in the region with the world’s highest gender gap.

Gender Gap World

And what is common between all those countries is that the value of women is always contingent upon the integrity of their hymen, their worth relative to the purity of their bodies, their purpose in life is to breed and procreate, but rarely produce, and never, ever, stand up to religious authority without facing repercussions.

Until today.

If there’s anything to empower Arab and Middle Eastern women this year around, it’s this. It’s standing up to those who contribute to those women not having rights, who bring them down every time they try to stand up to themselves, who think that “woman” is an insult, who think women should shut up when a man is speaking and who are given a religious cloak to make all their poison holy.

 

Lebanese Girls Are Not Easy To Get

A map has surfaced recently, championed by the work of a sex tourist called Daryush Valizadeh, that grades women across the world by the level of how easy they are to be picked up.

Sounds sexist? You bet. Sounds wrong as well? It does on so many levels.

I’ve checked the map out of curiosity. It has went viral in the past few days. I have no idea on what basis it was constructed but people seem not to care. The map itself might as well serve as a “where you can rape” guide for men who have no inkling on what it means to hold it in.

But I figured I’d check where Lebanon stands. Our women, whose reputation has been tarnished by folks of the region who view anything that doesn’t fit their mold as promiscuity, are anything but the promiscuous kind that many love to portray them to be.

You can check out the map here.

lEBANESE girls

 

Regardless of what such a map might mean, Lebanon remains a country where sex is a taboo. The joke goes as follows:

Most Lebanese guys I know:
– Are you with premarital sex?
HELL YEAH!
– Would you marry a girl who had premarital sex?
ARE YOU INSANE?

I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

 

How Lebanese Women Can Save Their Lives

Almost a year ago, my October turned pink as my mother got news that she had breast cancer. After the initial shock of the matter subsides, you’re left with one of two options: you either think rationally and fight or succumb to your emotions and crumble. It was a tough year, that’s for sure. My mom wasted away because of the chemo. She lost her hair, vomited anything she’d eat. But she’s getting better now.

My mom, however, is not your typical breast cancer patient: she doesn’t have a family history that would cause anyone to be more vigilant. The other risk factors associated with breast cancer do not apply in her case. And yet, there she was getting a needle stuck in her central IV line. My mother fell through the statistical cracks of medicine, like so many other people out there.

October may be breast cancer awareness month but I figured I’d shed some light on other cancers that aren’t discussed often and which might be prevented with some careful attention.

Breast Cancer:

I’m especially happy at the response I got after writing about my mother’s diagnosis, with many readers coming up to me to tell me that they got their mother to go get tested as well and they’re relieved she has nothing or, in the case of some unlucky few, had a very early stage of the disease. A lot of research and money has gone into breast cancer. We’re at a stage, medically, where early detection is almost synonymous with cure.

Early detection happens by personal observation first and foremost. If you feel any difference in the shape of your breast or any odd sensation that wasn’t there before, make sure you consult a gynecologist who will do a breast exam. Don’t worry, though, the exam is not painful. It consists of very careful inspection of the breast for any masses as well as how any potential mass might be affecting shape, texture, etc.

Seeing as October is free mammography month, there’s absolutely no reason for every woman aged 40 and above not to get one. If you have a family history of breast cancer, mammographies should have started by age 30-35. The sad part is that despite mammographies being either free or at a greatly reduced price during October, Lebanon’s medical community has had trouble in getting the message to some sectors of Lebanese women.

Make sure the women you know get tested this month. Make sure you haven’t had any changes. They might sound like small steps but they can go a long way in saving the lives of the women you love.

Cervical cancer:

The thing about cervical cancer is that there’s a quick screening method for it called a pap smear. It’s recommended to do the pap smear annually until you’re 30, with the test starting preferably by the age of 21. It’s a screening exam so it cannot give you a diagnosis.

The other thing about cervical cancer is that there’s a vaccine which could cut your risk of getting it by about 90%. Why so? Because the main causative agent of the cancer is a virus that’s called HPV, which is acquired by sexual intercourse. It’s preferable  to get the vaccine prior to your first sexual relation. However, even if you have had a sexual relation without taking the vaccine, you can still take it and have your risk reduced dramatically.

A lot of Lebanese women don’t take the vaccine or do a pap smear for the following reasons:

  • They believe it’s a taboo to take a vaccine for something that’s related to sex,
  • The vaccine itself is quite expensive, especially since doctors charge quite a hefty sum to administer it,
  • Many women don’t trust vaccines to begin with,
  • Having a gynecologist is, to many, only a matter that should happen after marriage.

The HPV vaccine, however, has proven itself to be very efficient. With its introduction into the medical field, cervical cancer deaths have drastically decreased. So in case you haven’t taken the vaccine or done a pap smear yet, consider this a sign that you should do so.

Ovarian Cancer:

Ovarian cancer is sometimes called the silent killer of women. It’s currently the leading cause of gynecological cancer deaths among women. It’s so inconspicuous that its diagnosis usually happens at a very advanced stage, when the disease has already metastasized. Less than 20% of women survive an advanced stage of some types of ovarian cancer. This cancer metastasizes to the lungs, liver, bowels, among other organs. The operation required to resect and manage the spread is considered a marathon and often only buys a little time for treatment, which is usually very harsh.

Ovarian cancer doesn’t have screening methods or vaccines. It requires you to be vigilant. A yearly visit to your gynecologist who does a pelvic examination should suffice. If there’s any suspicion, your physician will order an ultrasound to guide any possible diagnosis.

Your Life Matters:

My mother, like many other women, took her health way too lightly. She paid the price for it. Don’t let that happen to you or the ones you love because your health and life matter. There are other types of gynecological cancers than the aforementioned that affect women. The common denominator is not to treat any sign that your body might be telling you lightly, not to have a sense of immortality or denial imprinted on you despite all forms of common sense and, most importantly, not to so shy as to no seek out a gynecologist for any possible reason. On the contrary, make sure you find a gynecologist who proves to be the best fit for you, with whom you can be comfortable and with whom you feel free to discuss whatever’s making you worry.

112 Foreigners Get Lebanese Citizenship. Children of Lebanese Mothers? Nope

There are a lot of injustices that take place in Lebanon daily. For the past few days, it has been the horrid traffic that has overtaken the Lebanese highway due to some serious incompetence – is that a shock? But I daresay a bigger injustice has taken place recently, one that reflects the serious inequality that half of our population goes through daily.

112 people  were granted the Lebanese citizenship yesterday via a presidential decree. Many of those 112 people are from Lebanese origin and as such should get the Lebanese citizenship. Others, however, are most probably not as is the case of Mary Fontinato, an Italian.

I have no idea what criteria are employed to grant citizenship to foreigners in Lebanon as I don’t believe there’s a clear path to citizenship here. To be honest, up until yesterday I didn’t know anyone wanted it.

Mary Fontinato, incidentally not the only woman granted the citizenship yesterday, is an odd case indeed because her children – if any – will never be able to have the honor of being Lebanese bestowed upon them like her. Such a bummer, yes I know.

The list of people who were granted Lebanese citizenship also contains many Jordanians. Those of you who have now gotten worried about the country’s fabric, fear not: the sectarian composition of the list is well preserved. For every “Muslim” addition to our country, you’ll find an Italian priest or a French “Francois.” Lebanon is anything but atypical in that regards.

The list of 112 “foreigners” who were granted citizenship does not contain the children of Samira Sweidan, a Lebanese mother who tried for years to get her government to acknowledge the existence of her children. A judge, who ruled in her favor, soon had his ruling overruled by a governmental decree for it being unconstitutional.

Samira Sweidan is one in a sea of Lebanese mothers who cannot pass on their citizenship just because a solution around the Palestinian dilemma has yet to be found. My cousin, an American, recently got married to another American. Her children will never be Lebanese. My other cousin will soon be married to another American – and her children will only know of their mother’s homeland only by name and the occasional visits, if any.

I’d like to think that our president felt a tinge of regret as he signed that decree into effect. I’d like to think our prime minister thought about all the Lebanese women who have been fighting for years to get to where those 112 people got. I guess I’m being too sentimental. Why would anyone who’s American, Australian, Italian, Austrian or any other decent nationality want the Lebanese one is beyond me.

Check out the list of those 112 people here (Arabic link).