BEIRUT: In 1999, the United Nations General Assembly, led by the representative from the Dominican Republic, designated November 25 as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
On Sunday, Helem’s Women Committee celebrated this milestone through dedicating an entire day for empowering and supporting women on a physical and emotional level.
Helem is an NGO that works on terminating the discrimination and stigma pointed at people with non-normative sexualities, sexual orientations, and gender identities.
The NGO hosted a number of activities throughout the day including a self-defense workshop.
“When we gathered women for brainstorming ideas for the event, they all voiced their interest in something technical,” Margaretta El Khoury, researcher and co-leader of the Committee, told Annahar. “They wanted to empower themselves.”
Following the first workshop, a discussion was led by Maya Dolly Ammar, an activist and journalist. The talk tackled how a person can identify sexual assault and the legal initiatives one should take in case they were faced with the former.
“The first 24 hours after the assault are crucial: do not shower, do not throw away your clothes, pull the assaulters hair or scratch their skin in order to have DNA proof, and go to the nearest emergency room, health clinic or legal center,” Ammar said. “In case the 24 hours are due, go to the general prosecutor for help.”
Maya also explained how to escape situations that might lead to sexual assault in public places such as the elevator, parking lots, universities, and the workplace.
“If you’re walking down the street towards your car at night alone, remember to get your keys out beforehand, to focus on the road because assaulters take advantage of any distraction opportunity,” she added.
Ammar also stressed on the importance of body language and reminded attendees to always present themselves with confidence because this would help keep assaulters away.
After a short break, participating women were introduced to a series of discussions titled “Shady’s Scandals.”
Divided into several chapters, the discussion’s first subdivision titled “Let’s Play House” was initiated by a play. The play narrated the story of an imaginary Lebanese man named Shady who violently treats the women who live with him including his sister, his wife, and the domestic worker. Actors and actresses were chosen to be members of the committee who have come across different abusive stories and were able to reflect their frustration on the subject.
The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women was concluded with a storytelling night. Helem’s Women Committee collaborated with Sidewalk, a program created by Riwaq Beirut, and hosted an open microphone night that gave attendees the chance to open up and share their stories on sexual violence.
Welcome to “Naya”, the newest addition to Annahar’s coverage. This section aims at fortifying Lebanese women’s voices by highlighting their talents, challenges, innovations, and women’s empowerment.
We will also be reporting on the world of work, family, style, health, and culture. Naya is devoted to women of all generations-Naya editor, Sally Farhat: Sally.firstname.lastname@example.org
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