Speaking Up

Sawt al Niswa

“You have the right to stop taking this survey at any time without any penalties”… I read before I start taking a consumer survey… this is funny I think that they are reminding me of my right to my time and privacy, of my right to express my opinion about a product without any penalties… very funny I think… I want to thank them and let them know about all my stripped rights.

Maybe I should tell them that my government does not even protect my basic human right to safety, that there is no law to protect me from a husband who beats and rapes me… marriage is sacred and private they say… I chuckle.

Maybe I should tell them that my society is immune to sexual harassment against me, that it has become the norm for me to hear harassing comments as I walk the streets of Beirut. I should tell them that sometimes I feel threatened by these sexually harassing comments, that sometimes I am afraid when a man exposes himself to me on the corner of the street or in a taxi, that sometimes I run to the first man in uniform (a member of the darak or the amn 3am) to seek security only to have him shout: “I would like to lick your pussy”.

Maybe I should tell them that my years of education and hard work are not as valuable because I am a woman and not a man, that my value increases when I am taller and thinner, when I dress and act like a sex symbol as long as I keep my purity and virginity, and when I am younger and more attractive (Note: beauty is in the eye of the beholder ;) so more attractive is used here based on Barbie standards with plastic surgery as a plus)

Should I tell them? Should I speak up? Or should I just repeat the slogans of inaction and helplessness that I hear: At least you are not in Iran or Saudi where you have to cover yourself up, at least you are not in Afghanistan where you cannot get an education, at least you are not oppressed in Lebanon?

I put my head down and decide to stay quiet and then I look at the survey again: “you have the right to stop taking this survey at any time”… I can’t help it, I hold my head high and shout: I need to speak up!

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