One of the SEVEN: Don’t miss it!


SEVEN

I am honoured to be part of a play presented by Swedish Institute and embassy that highlights women rights around the world. The play called SEVEN will be shown in Amman for the first time this month on Saturday 20th, Oct and Sunday 21th, Oct. I will be taking a role in the Arabic version of the play alongside some amazing Jordanian women:

Nadine Toukan, maverick producer
Samar Dudin, director of RUWWAD
Rabiha Dabbas, previous minister of municipal affairs and previous governor
Nabila F. T. Abdel Masieh Managing Director EN-CAPS Consult
Lana Nasser, playwright, actress

That is quite an honor to be among these women and read a woman’s part.

If you can’t make it to the Arabic version on Saturday, make sure to make it on Sunday. The role I am playing in Arabic would be played by the beautiful Swedish Ambassador in Amman Charlotta Sparre.

DONT MISS IT!

Here is the event’s page on Facebook. Join in and invite your friends 🙂

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Like Girls Grow Breasts When They are Older, Some of Them Grow Penises


As a kid, I was bombarded with rules and stereotypes about gender. It was always a boy/girl dichotomy. Way before I had any idea about sexuality or puberty, I was taught that boys love girls and girls love boys and that’s how the world works. But what seemed like a universal law didn’t make a sense to me. I was never interested in girly things. I cut my hair really short and played soccer and climbed rocks. I deduced, therefore, with my young logical mind, that my feelings for girls could only mean one thing: that I was actually a boy. How else could I have crushes on girls? So I came to the conclusion that, like girls grow breasts when they’re older, some of them grow penises.”

That is a testimony of one of the lesbians girls in a new published book called “Bareed Mista3jil” – It is a set of letters (short stories) of Lebanese lesbians talking about each themselves and how different are their stories and struggle with both their gender and sexual identities.

There are many touching stories in the book, this one hit me the most because of the picture this woman draws of a young girl who loves girls, and who thought that because of the common norms of society, she must become a boy, and that God will fix the problem eventually when she grows up and grow her a penis!!

The girl continues her story by explaining how she finds out that some girls do actually love other girls and that she simply has different sexual orientation. That made her more comfortable with her gender as a woman.

Bareed Mista3jil is an excellent read, it gives you a broader perspective about the diversity of human beings in terms of gender and sexual identities in relations to the particularity of the Lebanese society.

It is a must read – You can find it at Books@Cafe or order it online from the Books Cafe website here for $16.95.

Honor Crimes, will the law change anytime soon?


As a Jordanian man, I know exactly what “honor” defined by the Jordanian cultural heritage means. In my teen age, I had to pass through different emotional dilemmas regarding my relationship with my younger sister. On one hand I needed to assert my masculinity and “fit” in the Jordanian male macho sub culture which entails embracing “honor” as being the most important value that defines a man, and as being a characteristic that is attached to females and associated with their relationship with the opposite sex. One the other hand, I had a deep respect for my sister, her emotions, and her choices in life.

Coming from a middle class family with easy going non conservative parents, and as I grew out of my teen years, I was fortunate to break off the “honor” mentality, end my dilemma, and decide that my sister is more important to me than any social or cultural obligation. Sadly, not all Jordanian men are lucky as I am. Some do grow in much harsher conditions where social pressure on “honor” is much stronger and serious; strong enough to define aspects of their behavior through their life time.

The seriousness of the “honor” issue found a perfect match in Article 98 of the Jordanian Penal Code. The Article stipulates a minimum of three months and a maximum of two years in prison for a murder that is committed in a fit of fury caused by an unlawful act on the part of the victim. A fit of fury is exactly what many Jordanians expects from a man who just found out that a woman relative has disgraced his family “honor”. Somehow this matching opened the doors to the murder of many Jordanian women.

“Murder In The Name Of Honor” is a recent book by Rana Al Husseni – a Jordanian Journalist and women rights activist – where she highlights her 16 years of reporting honor crimes in Jordan. Through the years, Rana was able to bring the attention of the Jordanian local community and the outer world to the horrible stories behind those murders. She succeeded in creating a strong movement of women non-governmental organizations which got backed by international pressure and support from the Jordanian Royal family to push the Jordanian government to do something about the current law.

It was only recently that we have started hearing about stronger stands from government officials against honor crimes. A week or so ago the Minister of Justice Ayman Odeh stated to the Jordan Times that “A crime is a crime. There is no such thing as honor crimes. All people are equal before the law”. His statement was accompanied by another one from a well known Muslim cleric, Abdul Rahman Ibdah, who said “Islam absolutely rejects the killing of others by individuals. There is nothing called ‘honor crimes’ in Islam”.

Jordan bloggers have also been covering honor crimes and showing dismay of the government for not being able to abolish the Article 98 of the penal code. They have also recently started a facebook group called “La sharaf fel Jareemeh” (No honor in crime). The group has over 900 members so far and is gaining popularity.

Any observer can see that there is a substantial shift in the Jordanian public opinion regarding the matter. The pressure of civil organizations, local and international community may lead to change in laws, but would that solve the problem? It may, only if accompanied with a change in some social values.

I wish I can reach out my hand to Laila, Mariam and Aziza!


** spoilers a thousand splendid suns

khaled al Hosseini has just managed to make me cry again. I had to stop now at the moment where Laila was letting go of her daughter Aziza because of the famine. I feel so much anger and rage inside of me. Anger for the injustice those women had to endure because of the stupidity of men. They are no fictional characters, I can see their suffering reflected on many women in the history of humanity in a way or another.

I wish I was there to hug both Laila and Aziza, to hug also Mariam, and maybe Nana (Laila’s mother). 3 generation of women suffering at the hand of man for different reasons. One being a maid who got pregnant by her master and then having to pay for it for the rest of her life by raising up a so called bastard. And then the so called young bastard girl who had to pay for her parents mistake the whole of her life, being forced to marry a much older man at the age of 14 in order to get rid of her!

And then comes Laila, the beautiful young girl whose life turned upside down when her parents got killed in a missile that hit their own house, she woke up in a house of a stranger, the same man who is married to Mariam. With no way out because of the war, and with a child in her womb herself (the child she gives away later on!) from the man who she adored and whom also died because of the war, she agrees to be the second wife and pass on her daughter as his.

How many women are their in this world who has been forced to protect their children this way? What kind of justice is this where the only way to protect your child is by passing him on as another’s man child? What kind of justice is there in this world when a woman gives away her own daughter because she can’t feed it? and what kind of justice is there when you are called a bastard for something you have nothing to do with?!!

When would men stop abusing women?!! Really?!!

Child Custody Law


For years, my father’s cousin has been frightened about losing her daughter. She didn’t dare to ask for divorce eventhough she and her husband got seperated two years after their wedding. Her worst nightmare arises when she heard that he was in a relationship with a Muslim women and was about to change his religion. Her feared didn’t stem out of concern about his religious status, but more about her custody of her daughter that would drop immediatly if her husband converted.

Yesterday, she was talking about Queen Rania’s youtube channel. She said that Queen Rania is addressing the world, telling them how good we are at protecting our minorities and treating our women. Then she proceeded on questioning women rights in Jordan under a law that strips a woman her children just because her husband fall in love with another woman of a different religion. She is determined to sent a letter to the Queen about this matter.

I know that my Christian neighbour who is married to a Muslim went to the court and converted to Islam when she knew that her husband has married another woman on her. She was frightened of losing the custody of her two son, and so she took some protective measrument including giving away her own religion.

I wonder how much our women rights organizations are aware of such laws and how hard are they working on changing it.