Jismi.net: A Campaign for Sexual & Bodily Rights in Lebanon

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Jismi.net is dedicated to the annual “One Day, One Struggle” campaign, a unique effort to underscore the joint struggle against the violation of sexual and bodily rights in Muslim societies, which takes place on November 9. (The Arabic word “Jismi” means “My Body” in English.)

This year, the Lebanon-based groups NasawiyaHelem and Meem developed an online video campaign focusing on bodily autonomy and sexual rights of individuals.

The videos feature people of different ages, gender expressions, religious affiliations and professional fields talking about the various experiences they were subjected to in terms of sexual and bodily oppression and the ways they were able to overcome these imposed restrictions to achieve complete autonomy and independence in their sexual and bodily choices.

The campaign aims to fill the gap created in dealing with issues related to the body and sexuality, as they are always considered private matters and taboos that shouldn’t be discussed. In addition to them being an integral part of human rights, sexual and bodily rights are a political matter regulated by legislations, rules, institutions and the state, as well as inherited social and cultural restrictions which affect the individual’s relationship with their body and sexuality and reshapes it using oppressive measures, stripping the individual of their autonomy.

Last year, groups held a panel on sexuality at the American University of Beirut (AUB).

Activities around the World

This year, 12 countries across Middle East, North Africa, South and Southeast Asia, are taking part in the campaign. With diverse, groundbreaking actions and events, almost 50 participating human rights organizations, universities and municipalities will simultaneously call for public attention to issues like: Right to Information, Sexuality Education, Sexual Health, Bodily Autonomy and Sexual Rights of Individuals, LGBTTQ Rights, Sexual Diversity and Islam, Sexuality and Shari’a as well as the struggle to stop sexual rights violations ranging from Polygamy to killings of women, gay people and transsexuals.

Hundreds will gather at panels, workshops, video and film screenings, theater performances, photo exhibitions and press release hearings in Bangladesh, Egypt, Ghana, Indonesia, Iran, Lebanon, Malaysia, Pakistan, Palestine, Sudan, Tunisia and Turkey to assert that sexual and reproductive rights are universal human rights based on the inherent freedom, dignity and equality of all human beings.

Why Launch the “One Day, One Struggle” Campaign

Human rights, including sexual and bodily rights and freedoms continue to be under fierce attack in Muslim societies. Rising conservatism fueled by militarism, increasing inequalities, the politicization of religion and Islamophobia have strengthened patriarchal and extremist religious ideologies that use sexuality as a tool of oppression. This has manifested itself in various forms over the last year, be it as the revocation of the permit for the regional Asia Conference of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Association (ILGA) by the police in Indonesia, or the harassment of conference participants by radical Islamist groups, or political pressure on a women’s group promoting women’s rights in Islam in Malaysia, or women like Sakineh Ashtiani being sentenced to death by stoning in Iran, or killings of hundreds of women and transsexuals in Turkey under the pretext of honor and morality.

Despite the differences among Muslim societies in terms of the progress made or the backlash encountered regarding sexual and bodily rights at the national levels, in the post 9/11 social and political context, religion is misused as a powerful instrument of control and sexual oppression with the goal of legitimizing human rights violations in the domain of sexuality. This indicates that sexuality is not a private issue but rather a site of political, social, and economic struggles for equality, human rights, democracy and peace at the national and international levels.

“One Day, One Struggle” was conceptualized by the Coalition for Sexual and Bodily Rights in Muslim Societies (CSBR) in response to this context and launched on November 9, 2009. Over 20 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) successfully staged bold actions in 11 countries to promote sexual and reproductive rights in the scope of the 1st international campaign organized by the Coalition for Sexual and Bodily Rights in Muslim Societies (CSBR). The 1st succeeded in stirring international public attention and was very positively reviewed by national and international media and organizations who defined it as a historical and timely event. The ongoing human rights violations, as well as the international public appraisal of the 2009 campaign, have encouraged CSBR to continue this initiative and organize the 2nd “One Day, One Struggle” on November 9, 2010.

About the CSBR

CSBR is a globally renowned solidarity network of progressive NGOs and premier academic institutions in the Middle East, North Africa, South and Southeast Asia, working to promote sexual and bodily rights as human rights in Muslim societies.

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