Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Zainab Salbi: Women, wartime and the dream of peace

 I was lying in bed feeling so blue about the world, with a remote hint of hope waiting to sleep, or actually forcing myself to sleep. Then I got an email, opened a video, and wow!
It's been a long time since I was that inspired. I personally thank her for her amazing efforts, and her glowing spirit.

I came across this other amazing video for her:

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Female Actors in the Egyptian Islamic Public Sphere -- My own Statement!

Last Thursday, I had the honor of being invited as one of the speakers in the second day of the workshop titled Female Actors in the Egyptian Islamic Public Sphere: Increasing Significance through Increasing Mediatization?"  organized by the Netherland-Flemish Institute in Cairo (NVIC). The speakers were Ms. Kawthar  the head of the social department in OnIslam, Ms. Dalia Younis, last year ,medical student who is the moderator and spokesperson for her mother Dr-Suzan, the medical professor and Islamic preacher, and myself. I’ll be posting about the whole event in a while. Here’s my opening statement:

Thank you NVIC for the honorable invitation. It’s very special to me to speak on this special day, November 25th is the international day for elimination of violence against women, such a very interesting coincidence.
It is very special to me to share my experience that has been a journey of self exploration that has been helping me a lot.
During my last year in medicine school which is a training year, and for a whole year after graduation, I was struck by the low standards women put for themselves.
My colleagues had minimal – if any- interest to their grades & performance, compared to the rings they have on their fingers. I found out that the ultimate role of a woman according to them was to get married before being 25, and for that anything was accepted; humiliation, abuse, quitting her career… when I started to talk more about that, I was called “a jealous spinster”
So In late 2007, I started my own blog in Arabic “A Diary of a Sinister Spinster”.
At the beginning, I only wanted to vent away my own anger & frustration, but then I found out that I was not alone thinking like that, and that I have been giving an amazing blessing; “The Voice”
So .. for two years, 2008 & 2009, I expressed my impressions & concerns about the Egyptian community and how single women are being treated. My main debate was even though marriage is a good thing, being single is not the end of the world, and I should not give up what is important for me just to get the marital status.
The biggest challenge when I was interviewed by media, or from the comments, was that I was perceived as “A spinster by choice”. It took me some time to keep on saying that the title of the blog is sarcastic and not expressive of how I see myself.
Most of the comments were supportive & encouraging from anonymous women & aggressive from anonymous men. Of course, I got me a few online proposals J
Then I knew that our main problem is that we don’t bring up our daughters in a way that preserves them any hint of self esteem. The concept of beauty that made facial bleaching creams in a Caucasian country a best seller is a very good example of how we here don’t raise our daughters to believe in themselves, until today I fight with that… girls still think to have dark skin means you’re not beautiful!!
The most controversial debate was when I tried to hit the concept of choice; talking about women living alone or women getting married by themselves (to say their own vows) were topics that I get comments on till today and a lot of them don’t agree.
I share my email all the time and my cell phone sometimes with people who comment, through which I got to know a lot of friends & people that I now know personally.
By the end of 2009, I knew that even though my anger was deeper, it was a stage, and that I had to evolve. So I started a new blog “The Purple Revolution” my own revolution, where the  main focus is young women ranging from 15 to 35, women who are in the beginning of either a relationship or a marriage.
My tools are diverse now, using the Twitter hashtag technique, Facebook netblog services, and the different Google applications are helping me to reach my target audience, and helping them to reach me.  Using codes like VAW or FGM is a very easy way to get in touch with those who have the same interest on the web, and to be always updated regarding these topics.
Let me give you an example; October is the month assigned by the UN to raise awareness of domestic VAW. A very big group of websites owners, bloggers, and activists joined their online forces by posting videos, data, simple straight numerical facts and posts of their own words about that issue. Through dedicating a tag or a label, sharing a banner, and tweeting about all that, the term violence against women was (and still is) widely and constantly spreading through the web.
In Sept 2009, I joined Muslimah Media Watch (MMW), an online English speaking website where Muslim women from around the globe emphasize how media portrays women in general in Muslim dominating countries, and Muslim women in the West. Naturally the audience is a bit different, as an Egyptian and an Arab, most of the topics I talk about are from Saudi Arabia, being the highly controversial and Lebanon, being highly exposed to media. As much as we get positive feedback, I still get comments stating that this categorization though it might help saving the identity but in the mean time it gives marginalization a bigger chance.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The WHO November 2009 VAW Fact-sheet!

Key facts:
  • Violence against women is a major public health problem and a violation of human rights.
  • Lack of access to education and opportunity, and low social status in communities are linked to violence against women.
  • Violence by an intimate partner is one of the most common forms of violence against women.
  • A wide range of physical, mental, sexual and reproductive, and maternal health problems can result from violence against women.
  • Many women do not seek help or report violence when it occurs.

Source: The WHO November 2009 VAW Fact-sheet!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Lamplighters

Did you know …
  • One out of three women worldwide have experienced rape or sexual assault
  • Studies show that 5 – 10 percent of men report a history of childhood sexual abuse
  • Hundreds of thousands of women and girls throughout the world are forcibly trafficked and prostituted each year
  • A report of seven different countries found that more than 60% of sexual assault victims know their attackers.
(George Mason University Worldwide Sexual Assault Statistics)

I came across this website today and I found it very interesting.
They call themselves “The Lamplighters” and this is their official song;

Thursday, November 18, 2010

New MMW Post -- The One Day, One Struggle Campaign

November 9th was the second international “One Day, One Struggle” campaign, organized by the Coalition for Sexual and Bodily Rights in Muslims Societies (CSBR). Fifty participants from 20 human rights organizations, universities, and municipalities from 12 countries from the Middle East, North Africa, South and Southeast Asia worked together to call for public attention for issues such as sexual education, sexual health, bodily autonomy, LGBT rights, sexual diversity in Islam, and sexuality and Shariah.
On the press release, it states:

Saturday, November 13, 2010

One of my very favorites!

One day I was watching the Academy Awards, and I listened to this song …I was standing doing something and my back was to the TV. I turned my upper body, with my hands in the air, and my soul caught. I kept like that till the end of the song. That day I knew I should see that movie. Of course the movie was extraordinary as I expected.
The song was “In The Deep” for Bird York, from the movie “Crash”.
That song is one of my favorites, and that movie is too!
Later than night Crash won Best Picture, together with best editing and original screenplay. Not so bad I guess!


Here’re the Lyrics:

Thought you had
all the answers
to rest your heart upon.
But something happens,
don't see it coming, now
you can't stop yourself.
Now you're out there swimming...
In the deep.
In the deep.

Life keeps tumbling your heart in circles
till you... Let go.
Till you shed your pride, and you climb to heaven,
and you throw yourself off.
Now you're out there spinning...
In the deep.
In the deep.
In the deep.
In the deep.

And now you're out there spinning...
And now you're out there spinning...
In the deep.
In the deep.
In the deep.

In the silence,
all your secrets, will
raise their worried heads.
Well, you can pin yourself back together,
to who you thought you were.
Now you're out there livin'...
In the deep.
In the deep.
In the deep.

In the deep...

Now you're out there spinning...
Now you're out there swimming...
Now you're out there spinning...
In the deep.
In the deep.
In the deep.
In the deep...

And here’s a link to download it if you want, it has an extra verse than the Youtube one.