We all have had our share of bad experiences inside Lebanese taxis. It’s time we share them to vent, but most importantly to raise awareness, in the hope of enforcing stricter regulations.
I was leaving the LAU Beirut Campus at around 10.30PM, after a long night of studying, heading towards Dawra. As usual, I wait at a nearby intersection looking for a cab (or as we call it: ‘Service’). Two cars pass by and refuse to go to Dawra. A third cab (a nice Toyota) agrees. I get in.
D (Driver): So much traffic. Akh. There must be another protest. Such a sectarian country, right?
M (Me): Yep indeed..
D: I got a civil marriage with my wife; we belong to different religions. We got married in Canada then came back. Crappy country. My brother-in-law is very sectarian though.. He got involved with these rotten political parties.
D: Yep. He even carries weapons. I once asked him: “if a civil war erupts, would you raise your gun against me? Since I am Christian and you’re not?”. He said “Yes”. I then slapped him with the back of my hand.
M: *laughs, this driver looks like a smart guy*
A few minutes go by of him talking about an affair his brother-in-law thought he had.
He lights-up a cigarette.
D: Marriage is not easy. You need to slap your wife after marriage. You need to educate her. A few beatings would do. If not, she will go crazy and get very demanding. You must set her limits. You should slap her hard.
I do not say anything. I get out of the car. I am enraged. I have never had an abusive person brag to me about his endeavors. I feel guilty of not arguing with him. Maybe, he could have seen his wrongdoings. Maybe, I could have helped his wife who fell victim of the domestic violence protected by our laws, religious teachings, and social norms. Maybe, he does not know that it is wrong. Maybe, he rapes his wife. Maybe, he does not know any better. Maybe, he had an abusive father. Maybes.
I refuse these thoughts. I will not go around pointlessly analyzing his personality, nor excusing it. I will not go around thinking of what could have been done or said. He is what he is, but now what? There should be something I can do. There must be something to do.
Personally, as far as I can consciously remember, I have never seen any husband hit his wife. My parents used to argue a lot when I was younger, and I did hear a lot of shouting and fighting, but there never was anything physical. However, I have heard stories. I have heard the story of my aunt being hit by her husband. I have read the weekly headlines of women suffering from abuse across the country: A brother kills his sister in an honor crime – A Lebanese pastor kills his second wife – A woman uselessly calls for the police to protect her from her husband.
Wait for the cherry on top: Muslim Judges in Lebanon Call Rape a “Marital Right”
The sexualization in our society is disgusting. Having the right to wear a mini-skirt does not mean that Lebanese women are protected. Up until today, we have no laws against domestic violence or marital rape. We do not even have enough awareness.Until today, your mother, sister, daughter, aunt, friend, or neighbor can be victims of honor crime. Until today, there is a possibility your mother, sister, daughter, aunt, friend, or neighbor may not be granted ‘permission’ to move out of their parents house, unless if they’re in a wedding gown or a coffin. Until today, you can crush the bones of your mother, sister, daughter, aunt, friend, or neighbor without fear of any kind of punishment. Until today, your mother, sister, daughter, aunt, friend, or neighbor can be forced to marry their rapist to ‘preserve the family’s dignity’.
I regret not taking a photo of the cab’s plate number and sharing it with this post. I promise myself to do that next time. With these thoughts, I walk the rest of the way towards my destination (luckily, it wasn’t too far).
But, there are lots of things we can do. The least we can do is speak-out. We need to simply point out what is not acceptable. We need to raise public pressure against this system and these societal beliefs, and we need to be loud and powerful.
YOU need to do something. Change does not create itself.
Until we become civilized as Lebanese fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters.
Have a Lebanese cab adventure worth sharing? Email it to: email@example.com
Also, feel free to check-out the great Lebanese feminist group Nasawiya.