Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Myriam Achkar and the Collective Response

On 22 November 2011, Lebanon's independence day, the body of a 28-year-old Lebanese woman, Myriam Achkar, was found in the woods of Sahel Alma near Jounieh, north of Beirut. She was murdered by Fathi Jaber Al-Salatini, a Syrian national working as a janitor at a nearby monastery. He had apparently attempted to rape her. First I want to extend my sincere condolences to her family - although belated. I cannot even begin to imagine the pain and suffering they are going through.

Although I was extremely shocked and angered by this crime, the reason I am writing this post is not to talk about the murder itself, but what it has shown about the level of discussion in the country. I may be mistaken but I strongly feel that this was one of the most widely discussed issue in the Lebanese blogosphere, from what it meant that she was a Christian and the fact that the murderer was Syrian to the debate about sexual violence against women in general and the irresponsible behaviour of media outlets. I have therefore collected all blogs addressing this heinous crime in this post, with a brief about some of the conclusions made for each. I will be adding more to it as I find them (please feel free to point out any that I've missed in the comments section and I will get to it).

Friday, November 18, 2011

Requiem for Jean Charles de Menezes

Many of you will remember Jean Charles, the Brazilian who was shot in the head seven times at the London Underground by the London Metropolitan police on July 22, 2005. They had misidentified him as one of the fugitives involved in the previous day's failed bombing attempts. The British people were shocked by his death and were left in a daze, wondering what the real value of their supposed security was.

Well last week, at the International Istanbul Biennial art exhibition, I found this lovely piece by the UK artist Claire Fontaine, a requiem for Jean Charles and I'd like to share it with you:

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Gender and the operator

I am writing this post not quite sure what my opinion on the matter is, though I feel like I need to have a strong one. I have gotten accustomed to reading in the wanted ads of Arabic language papers calling for an operator or secretary, always female. In fact, yesterday, I called Byblos Bank in Beirut and got the automated answering system which asks to hold for the operator. In Arabic, it's the female operator (عاملة الهاتف).

I even encountered a situation at work when I caught our HR making the same generalization. When I asked them why they are assuming that this person has to be female, the response was, "Isn't that usually the case? Aren't office secretaries and receptionists generally women?" That is the reality of the situation. But my issue is why does it have to be spelled out as if it's a requirement? Doesn't that deter good male candidates from applying? And is that why these positions are mostly filled by women? Most importantly, why does this seems like a wrong that needs to be made right?