BEIRUT: One in every four women in Lebanon is subjected to sexual harassment at some point in their lives; 49 percent of sexual harassment acts are perpetrated by a family member or a person close to the victim; yet, only a small percentage of victims report their assault, according to NGO ABAAD.
“Shame on Who” is a large-scale campaign launched this month by ABAAD with the aim of calling for increased harasser’s sanctions and speeding up the trials against aggressors in cases of sexual violence and rape.
On Friday, ABAAD partnered with Zico House and hosted a play under the same title as that of the campaign: “Shame on Who.” Written and directed by Sahar Assaf, the play represents the stories of seven women who were victims of various types of sexual violence. Although all stories presented in the play are real, the acts were played by professional actors and actresses and not the victims themselves.
“The play is for women, by women, and to women,” Ghida Anani, founder and director of ABAAD, said. “What we tried to do for this play, is to show as vividly and clearly as possible the reality of sexual assault. It shows what these women have lived through during the assault, after reporting the assault, and how their society, families, and even themselves viewed the assault.”
The play took its viewers on a tour inside a house with two floors and multiple rooms. Each room narrated a distinct experience lived by a victim.
The bathroom transcribed the story of Hoda, who was raped by her friend’s brother at 14 and was then forced to marry him.
The bedroom transliterated Ward’s story who was consistently raped and abused by her husband since an early age.
The living room told the story of Ritaj, who was raped by her own father when she was seven- years-old, and when she reported the former to her mother, she did not believe her.
“The play showed that the rapist could be anyone, a brother, a father, a husband, or a neighbor,” said Mohamad Shaafati, one of the viewers. “Even in marriage, marital rape is still legal and that makes your blood run cold.”
After hearing the stories from the first floor, attendees were escalated to the second floor where they met Riham, a woman who has been a victim of her step brother’s sexual assault ever since she was eight-years-old. Her clothes were hung across the room, each outfit representing a specific moment in her life where she got assaulted. The room summarized 20 years of sexual assault and mirrored people’s reactions to her story.
“This is reality, this happens daily, there has to be a penalty, a punishment, a sanction, anything to protect these individuals. Women need back-up, society needs to protect women in order to stop these gruesome, inhumane crimes,” Jamil Alhochimy, an attendee, told Annahar.
The play left its audience in shock and anger at a reality that hunts women every day.
“It’s not only sadness that was felt, it was anger. Anger at the people in charge, anger at officials, anger at the society,” Souad Amine, a viewer, said. “We are in desperate need for change. How many rape cases will it take to realize that?”
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