The Lebanese caretaker Interior Ministry, Mohammad Fahmi, announced Thursday that shops, restaurants, cafes, gyms, bars, and nightclubs are ordered to close during a two-week lockdown, from Saturday until the end of the month.
The government’s decision would also include a curfew, ordering citizens to stay at home from 5 p.m. to 5 a.m., with driving banned on Sundays. Needless to point out to the obvious, that will have a tremendous impact on the businesses, hence the economy that is already in a dire status.
When asked during an interview with LBCI reporter Remy Derbaswhen about restaurant and delivery closure during the lockdown, Lebanon’s caretaker Interior Minister had a solution to the problem, stating: “Let the women cook.”
While Lebanese residents are living in a time of great economic depression and political instability, the caretaker minister chose to insensitively joke about Lebanese women in what insinuated that they don’t cook enough. He actually said, “Let the women cook shouwai (a little),” and laughed.
As if Lebanese women haven’t been cooking for their families as they should, and as if them cooking shouwai will solve the economic problem affecting the restaurants during the lockdown.
These same women whom Lebanese officials have failed big time to secure and guarantee their protection against violence and legal discrimination, according to a report published by Human Rights Watch only a week before Fahmi’s interview.
Minister Fahmi forgot to note the devaluation of the Lebanese pound by 80 percent alongside sky-high inflation, which has caused a significant reduction in people’s purchasing power.
Lebanese women, whom he relegated to the kitchen, might not be able to cook at all due to the significant increase in prices, whether they are working women or housewives solely relying on their husbands’ impacted income.
The backlash was quick to ensue on social media, pointing the finger at the blatant sexism of the minister.
One twitter user wrote: “What do you guys expect from these kind of politicians in this corrupt government?”
Social media users also noted how journalist Remy Derbas deemed the sexist and insensitive joke so funny and laughed it off. Truth is, no one on social media deemed it funny at all but shocking.
One thing most people can agree on is that Minister Mohammed Fahmi’s comment and some others he uttered jokingly about this difficult situation only raised people’s distrust in the state’s seriousness towards the people and their hardships, let alone forming a new government and saving the country’s crippling currency.