So we’ve been trying to figure out why, after our brief choose-your-own-adventure in the Arab Spring, everything’s gone so quiet in Lebanon.
Don’t get us wrong, it’s summertime, we know. And there’s the beach and the bronzage and the choub and the 3ja’ and the village and the challayat and everyone’s cousin’s brother’s family is back visiting… it just gets busy. And, we know, the same thing happens every year. So just because this spring saw demonstrations in every Arab capital and almost every city, and just because this spring the demonstrations here were – ostensibly – about something more than just follow-the-zu3ma, doesn’t then mean that the issues, the concerns, the demands that were raised will be addressed.
It must just be that no one cares anymore, because clearly none of the demands were met. There’s a new government, but sectarianism remains solvent. The minimum wage wasn’t raised, schools, hospitals, services weren’t improved, civil marriage isn’t allowed, and women – well, women are even more marginalized than ever. Not in the government, not passing on their nationality to their kids, not earning equal salaries, not in positions of decision-making and, apparently, according to Lebanon’s finest coalition of religious figures, not deserving of state protection from domestic violence. It’s good to know that, when it comes to denying women our rights, the sects are all united.
It ought to be enough to make you really, really pissed-off; angry enough to throw something, or set something on fire, or even – gasp! – demonstrate!
While the five-stars are fully booked and the festivals are making bank and all of Hamra seems intent on a path of self-mutilation whereby each newly redundant bar tries its best to further lower the age demographic, we sit here, silent, sated by the sun, stunned by the reality that no one – not even us – really cares.
But not Sawt. Fighting the summertime torpor and the ennui of the revolution unrealized and, (most of the time), the urge to just lie in the sun and get a fabulous tan, Sawt is out and about and IN YOUR FACE.
Because a woman should be safe walking alone in Beirut after 9pm; because a woman should be safe in her own home; because if she’s not, she should have the legal protection of the state support her decision to leave; because the law still privileges men in adultery cases; because women are denied the tax breaks given to male heads of household; because no newspapers are run by women; because almost no university deans are women; because no government ministers are women; because only 0.3% of parliamentarians are women; because women still earn $0.33 cents on every dollar paid to a man; because only 46% of all women (and only 17% of extremely poor women) have any type of health insurance at all… for these and so, so many more injustices, Sawt is here – Sawt it OUT and Sawt it LOUD!
But we can’t do it alone. You have thoughts and opinions and feelings and analyses. You have stories to tell and we want to share them. You have perspectives and we want to show them, insights that we want to broadcast, and a voice that ought to be heard. Sawt is here – where are you?