Lebanese visual artist, Rémie Akl, turns to music, poetry, and wit to tell stories and create captivating performances that address big issues, such as political corruption, societal taboos, and gender inequality.
With a creative and rebellious spirit that many aspire to achieve, she dances to the beat of her own drum and takes her viewers by surprise with every new project.
This time, Akl collaborated with the NGO ABAAD on a video that went virally unstoppable, catching the attention of people across the region and beyond.
In only 3 days, the video got nearly 3.5 million views on Instagram. It is her most viewed IGTV to date.
The NGO, ABAAD, works to promote and achieve gender equality and tackle gender issues in the MENA region. Hence, in her video, Akl addresses the issue of sexual harassment and gender-based violence in the region, namely Lebanon.
The video revolves around the common scenario in which women, minding their own business and going about their day, are sometimes grossly referred to as Baklawa (baklava) by random strange men.
But the problem goes beyond everyday catcalling, which some men seem to think is innocent fun, forcing many women to simply adapt to it.
Akl dissects the issue to uncover true frightening situations many women commonly experience, such as being stalked on the way home, getting sexually harassed in the doorway of buildings (even their own), dealing with harassers online, or living with an abusive male figure, be it a father, brother, or partner.
For those who think these instances are far fetched, they’re not. Shockingly, 1 in 3 women will experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. That’s without counting the more common issue of verbal sexual harassment and abuse.
“Your Baklawa, which sweetens your life, is afraid of you. You are dangerous. You are a threat,” Akl addresses men of that nature.
To the many who may have felt disturbed by the video, ABAAD writes, “The content of this video might seem disturbing for basic senses of the mind and heart, maybe because it depicts the patriarchy as obvious as it can get. Unfiltered!”
It’s worth noting that the Baklava dessert is somewhat fragile to the touch but has a stiff base. While it may seem to flake apart, the layers at the core are strong.
Women are a force to be reckoned with. That’s why this video was done as part of ABAAD’s “Safety For Safekeepers” campaign to support women to feel safe and tap into their inner strength.
The campaign also promotes the effort of 16 women “Safekeepers” in Lebanon who have made their communities a safer place for women.
Lastly, remember that protecting the women, also means educating the sons.