It’s Time to Criminalize Sexual Harassment in Lebanon #Mesh_Basita مش_بسيطة#

Last week, a very dear friend of mine called me at 1:30AM, frantically telling me how a man had followed her on the street, trying to touch her while masturbating. It was in public. It also wasn’t the first time a friend tells me about such a horrifying experience. A day later, another friend told me to stay on the line with her, because a car with an man in it was tailing her and followed her to her own street and building.

As a man in a heavily patriarchal society, it’s hard for me to sometimes relate to the horrible stuff women in our society have to go through, without any way of countering that legally. Whether it’s a whistle, a vulgar comment, outright sexual assault or blackmail and use of authority to sexually abuse someone, this happens every day in Lebanon, and to too many young women and girls.

This is unacceptable, and the current laws do not do nearly enough to protect more than half of Lebanese society from sexual harassment in public spaces, at work and at school.

The KIP Project on Gender and Sexuality at the Olayan School of Business, American University of Beirut, and in partnership with the Office of the Minister of State for Women’s Affairs, launched the“Mesh Basita” campaign this month. The campaign’s aim is to highlight the urgent need for legislation around sexual harassment in Lebanon.

One of the proposed draft laws is up for a vote soon in the parliament. Show your support for this legislation, and let’s help women in Lebanon feel safe again in public and on the street. Let’s also send a message to the harassers and abusers, that their transgressions will not go unpunished for long.

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