Webinar: Stand Up Against Street Harassment
As part of the Food 4 Thought speaking series, the Arab Institute for Women (AiW) hosted a webinar titled ‘Stand up Against Street Harassment’. Director of AiW, Ms. Myriam Sfeir, opened the session by introducing the institute and the partners in this webinar, namely Title IX, ABAAD, L’Oréal, and Right To Be.
Ms. Cynthia Daher, Head of Communication and Media at ABAAD, introduced the US-based organization, Right To Be, and the services it provides. After that, Ms. Nadine Seif Eddine, a women’s rights activist from ABAAD, presented the objectives and work of ABAAD and explained, through numbers and statistics, the scope, causes, and effects of sexual harassment in public spaces in Lebanon. Then, Ms. Seif Eddine emphasized the significance of awareness-raising campaigns in improving the response of women towards harassment beyond fear and taboo. She also provided a proper legal definition of the term sexual harassment and explained its aspects as entailed in the Lebanese law, and discussed the places where harassment can happen. According to the law, sexual harassment is described as “any bad and repetitive behaviour that is extraordinary, unwelcome by the victim, and with sexual connotation that constitutes a violation of the body, privacy, or emotions.” The law notes that sexual harassment can occur through speech, actions, and electronic means. The law also considers single or repeated acts that use, “psychological, moral, financial, or racist pressure to obtain benefits of sexual nature” as sexual harassment.
During the webinar, a poll addressing students’ opinions on the causes and impacts of sexual harassment was shared. As the results demonstrated, the most common reasons why people don’t react to harassment is the fear of negative reputation, fear of blame, or fear of further harm from the predator. The bystander intervention and its methods were also tackled during the webinar. Ms. Seif Eddine concluded her talk by discussing the 5D’s required of a bystander, which are Distract, Document, Delegate, Delay, and Direct. The webinar ended with a Q&A session.