Women are the core of Lebanon’s revolution. They have been contributing their time, voices, talents, experiences, education, and expertise to help the revolution with its goals.
Among these heroes are female Lebanese journalists.
The Lebanese revolution erupted on October 17th, 2019. Ever since then, the media played a huge role in covering the protests and transmitting the revolutionaries’ demands and struggles.
For weeks, protests were being broadcasted almost 24/7; reporters were always on the streets with the protesters where they faced several inconveniences, especially women journalists from all TV stations and even freelancers.
Even now, they all face increased risks covering protests during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On World Press Freedom Day (May 3rd), KAFA and Maharat Foundation, with the support of UN Women, prepared a video with a number of women journalists who were on the ground covering Lebanon’s 2019 uprising from day one.
These journalists are Raneem Abou Khzam, Yumna Fawaz, Halima Tabiaa, Larissa Aoun, Joyce Akiki, and Lara Hashem. The video started with the following introduction:
“Lebanon’s protests began on October 17th, 2019. Women reporters played an important role in covering the protests. This role has put them at risk, risks they were not anticipating. Many also sought to promote peace and reduce tension.”
Laryssa Aoun, a reporter for Sky News Arabia, described the relationship she developed with revolutionaries, specifically Lebanese students after they shared their problems, hopes, and goals.
She helped other women be a message of peace on protest grounds, but that didn’t keep these women from being exposed to violence.
Raneem Bou Khzam, a reporter for LBCI, recounted her experience covering a dispute over a video shared online between citizens of the same region in Beirut (Shiah and Ain El-Remmaneh).
Halima Tabiaa, a reporter for Al-Jadeed TV, recalled witnessing children of mothers requesting nationalities for their kids being pulled out of their tents. She wanted to give these families a voice.
She also recalled her and her colleagues’ phone numbers being disseminated. They received insulting messages beyond boundaries.
Yumna Fawaz, a freelance reporter, was among other women forming a shield between the protesters and the security forces. She aimed at preserving human rights.
Yumna, despite covering wars in dangerous areas, only felt fear while covering Lebanon’s uprising due to the lack of protection.
Joyce Akiki, a reporter from MTV, defended her rights as a journalist all along. She shared her insight on journalists always being in the middle of conflicts, especially during the Lebanese revolution.
Lara Hashem, a reporter for OTV, thinks women have a stronger role in reducing the tension in such situations.
They all stressed one main point: When people criticize women journalists, they bully their appearances, they make assumptions about their personal lives, they make sexual accusations, they tackle the issue of honor, etc.
They also stressed that they weren’t prepared for such attacks. Joyce Akiki said in the video: “We didn’t even know such kinds of attacks existed.”
Larissa Aoun stated: “I am first and foremost a human before being a reporter or a journalist.”