July 31 marked the first day of ‘Mesh_Basita’, The KIP Project on Gender and Sexuality’s most recent national campaign, in partnership with the Office of the Minister of State for Women’s Affairs.
The KIP Project, which is based at the Olayan School of Business at the American University of Beirut, and funded by the U.S. Department of State, under the director of the Associate Dean of Program Charlotte Karam, has established this campaign as the latest in a series of initiatives targeting sexual harassment and discrimination. Efforts before this include the ‘NotYourAshta’ campaign in addition to conferences, roundtable discussions and training days for students and members of the private sector.
‘Mesh_Basita’ aims to emphasize the need for anti-sexual harassment legislation in Lebanon and appeal to the general public to call for legal reform.
The campaign takes place from July 31 to August 15, and is gaining presence both off and online through the hashtag #Mesh_Basita or مش_بسيطة#
Members of the public are being encouraged to use the hashtag by sharing photos, videos and texts on social media. Posters and billboards have also been appearing around Beirut.
At 3:00 this afternoon, KIP released on their Facebook page the latest addition to the campaign: a video ad set to launch across several major television networks throughout the country.
Heather Jaber, KIP’s Communication Coordinator, spoke to Outlook about the message behind the video and what it aims to achieve.
“We’re trying to reach the mass public”, Jaber explains. “The video follows the journey of a woman from childhood to the workplace and shows how she faces different forms of harassment along the way”, she continues.
“At the beginning of the video, the woman is vocal and confronts the harassment, but by the end she has become silenced because of how society normalizes sexual harassment”, Jaber goes on to say. “So, we are confronted with the message that we need to take action.”
In a country where speaking out about sexual harassment is so highly stigmatized, and where a vast number of people normalize the many manifestations it takes on, ‘Mesh_Basita’ focuses on enforcing the notion that sexual harassment is ‘not okay’.
“If you can’t talk about an issue, there’s no way for you to confront it, so what we’re really trying to do is contribute to facilitating more knowledge generation around sexual harassment”, Jaber tells Outlook.
KIP is adamant in clarifying that sexual harassment is an issue that should concern the masses, and by broadcasting the video online and across several local television networks, hopes to reach a wide, diverse audience.
“I think it’s necessary especially when talking about sexual harassment to recognize that it is a collective issue, it is a societal issue and it is not an issue for certain people or people of a certain background”, Jaber concludes.
The video has already earned over 12,800 Facebook views and 212 shares by users of the platform. It is also set to air across television networks over the next two weeks, with focused coverage this evening on LBCI at 11:30 pm, on OTV’s “Yom Jdid” tomorrow at 8:40 am and Saturday on ART’s “Min Beirut” from 7:00 to 9:00 pm.