After the chain reactions received on the previous version of this post, I decided to edit it. Most of the comments have been deleted since they made no more sense. The same events could happen anywhere on this planet. As a Lebanese blogger, I’m mainly interested in Lebanon and its problems as I strive for progressive laws, social change and breaking taboos. Not talking about problems doesn’t mean that they will go away. Awareness is the purpose and nothing else.
I will not use anyone’s example this time to illustrate my point. Many just stopped their analysis there arguing about details. Long story made short, when a person gets raped, people tend to try to justify the rape. How could raped be justified? How could a person wounded in the most intimate parts of her/his body be blamed?
This happens to foreigners and to locals as well. I have heard countless stories about taxi/bus/school bus drivers, teachers, husbands, boyfriends, family (father, brother, cousin, uncle, etc..) raping men and women.
He/they could have been someone/people the girl/boy knows or he/they could have been someone/people she/he doesn’t know. She/he could have been 5 years old as much as she/he could have been a mother/father with kids. It doesn’t matter. She/he could have been smart or naive, corned or lured… It doesn’t matter. She/he could have been threatened with death, she/he could have been beaten till she/he passed out, she/he could have screamed and fought back… It doesn’t matter. It can happen to anyone, anytime, anywhere.
Due to the media and other preconceived ideas blondes, for example, are mistaken for Russian/Romanian prostitutes. I’m personally a fake blonde. But because I have very short hair and European features, I encounter this issue as well. People would address me immediately in a foreign language or harass me on the street and call me names. Many even mistake me for a guy JUST BECAUSE I have very short hair.
It is not uncommon to hear: “If she/her got raped, it’s her/his fault.”, “Maybe she/he wanted this.” and other sick comments. I mean come on, really? No woman/man on the planet wanted/wants/will ever want to be beaten, raped and left half dead. Get real.
If something like that happened to your mother/father, sister/brother, daughter/son, aunt/uncle, girlfriend/boyfriend etc.. wouldn’t the first reaction be “I will kill this bastard?”
- Is it OK for people to bully any blonde girl? To ask about nationality, do the “Russia, Russia, how much?” dance and harass people on the streets?
- Is it OK to rape prostitutes? Was there an irresistible sign saying “Rape me”? Ever wondered why/how she/he ended up here/like this and in what conditions?
- Is it OK to rape gays? Liking men doesn’t mean liking violence.
- Is it OK to rape helpless refugees?
- Is it OK for a husband to force himself on his wife?
- It is OK to rape the foreign housekeeper?
- When someone drops money, we have 2 choices: Either make the person realize their money is on the ground either steal. ( Don’t tell me you “found” it when you saw it falling from the person’s hand/pocket/purse..) Would stealing be justified? Would you think “This person wanted to be stolen”?
- If you forgot your car open, is it OK to steal it?
Since 2005, Kafa is the organization that can provide support in such cases. (So before that, victims had no support…) In a society where rape is a big taboo and a shame, a girl/guy wouldn’t even file a complaint because this means it has become public and even if she/he does, there are no clear legal procedure for the police indicating how to go about these cases. Many victims drown into depression and commit suicide while rapists are out there free, perpetuating their unpunished acts.
Unfortunately, the law seems to encourage men to be violent against women since the rapist is exempt from prison if he marries his victim and beaten women have no protection whatsoever unless they show broken bones. As far as I know, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women has been signed by Lebanon in April, 16, 1997. What about the unwanted pregnancies? What about the refugees? What about the men who get raped? (There is also this idea that “men cannot get raped”)
Are we, men and women unprotected by the law itself?
- Limit talking to strangers. (Moms knew what they were doing when they insisted on this.)
- Never get in strangers’ car unless there is a clear Taxi sign. (Even then safety is not guaranteed)
- Never give away too many personal details.
- Limit walking unaccompanied on the street and never walk alone on the street at night.
- Keep a serious face as smiles nowadays are interpreted as an invitation.
- Never leave drinks unattended at all times. Not only that, do not send anyone to bring it AND keep an eye on the bartender while he is preparing it.
But still, shit can happen. Not all people are nice by default. Sex should ALWAYS be consensual. You could land on a person with whom you have a one night stand. It should still be consensual. NO means NO at any time.
So, this is not about Lebanon. What is about Lebanon is something else: it’s the way it’s it taken in charge, the way protective measures are taken at the source of the problem, the way the law is written, the way justice is given and the way society deals with it which makes ALL the difference. The WHOLE issue is HOW WE DEAL with it (The law, the justice system and everything else).
Updates: Follow up on this case here: The aftermath of a rape in Lebanon