Experts slam Lebanese media’s misogynistic portrayal of Ukrainian women

A Ukrainian woman fleeing Russian invasion hugs a child at a temporary camp in Przemysl, Poland. (Reuters)
A Ukrainian woman fleeing Russian invasion hugs a child at a temporary camp in Przemysl, Poland. (Reuters)
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Updated 24 March 2022

Experts slam Lebanese media’s misogynistic portrayal of Ukrainian women

A Ukrainian woman fleeing Russian invasion hugs a child at a temporary camp in Przemysl, Poland. (Reuters)
  • A Lebanese media outlet was slammed last week for its misogynistic coverage of the Ukrainian-Russian war
  • Often referred to as a progressive country, Lebanon in reality suffers from a deep case of racism and misogyny

LONDON: In Lebanon, people have often resorted to humor and social jokes to get through the various hardships they have endured in recent years. However, in many instances, this humor crossed moral and ethical lines. 

A Lebanese media outlet, Al-Sharq newspaper, was slammed last week for its misogynistic coverage of the Ukrainian-Russian war, which objectified Ukrainian women in false attempts to evoke sympathy. 




Lebanon's Al-Sharq newspaper featured a half-clothes Russian model who the newspaper claimed is a Ukrainian woman. (Twitter)

Misogynistic images were also circulated on Lebanese WhatsApp groups objectifying Russian and Ukrainian women under the guise of humor. 




Images objectifying Ukrainain women were circulated on Lebanese WhatsApp groups with the caption: "Ukrainian refugees." (Twitter)

“These are not innocent jokes; they are misogyny and sexism concealed in humor. They are instruments of propaganda and control that propagate and maintain the misogynist discourse in society,” Lina Zhaim, a media, communications and development expert, told Arab News.

On its eighth page in the variety segment, Al-Sharq published a photo of a half-clothed blonde curvy woman, who the newspaper claimed is a Ukrainian woman.  

The image was accompanied with a photoshopped superimposed logo of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and a caption in Spanish that read “Adopta una Ucraniana,” (adopt a Ukrainian). 

Underneath the logo, the newspaper included a deeply insulting Arabic caption, likely intended to be humorous, which read: “Humanitarian deed, adopt a Ukrainian woman to protect her from the Russian occupation.”




Images objectifying Russian and Ukrainain women were circulated on Lebanese WhatsApp groups with the caption: "God knows who we should side with, Russia or Ukraine." (Twitter)

“These types of jokes stereotype women and normalize the sexual objectification of women under the disguise of humor. The image as well as the language of the joke are offensive to women everywhere; they devalue women and reduce them to sexual objects for the gaze of men and reinforce the sexual stereotyping of women,” Zhaim added.

The fact that the editor-in-chief of Al-Sharq, Awni Kaaki, is also the head of the Lebanese Press Syndicate makes matters even worse. 

“The media is not becoming sexist; it was always like this. It is reflective of the institutionalized misogyny, toxic masculinity and condescending attitudes towards women,” Zhaim explained.

“The Lebanese media are still dominated by misogynist and sexist cultures and ideologies, and are still managed by misogynist men like Kaaki who control the narrative of the women’s agency in our culture: they have created and continue to cement the image of women as nothing more than sexual objects to be shown off, exploited and oppressed.” 




Images objectifying Russian and Ukrainain women were circulated on Lebanese WhatsApp groups with the caption: "For the love of God Putin, don't you dare harm them." (Twitter)

Journalists and media experts in Lebanon slammed Al-Sharq and Kaaki for the level of misogyny seemingly disguised as humor. 

Veteran journalist Magda Abu Fadil detailed in a blog post Kaaki’s response to the accusations. After receiving heavy backlash, Kaaki claimed that newspaper editors don’t always micromanage a publication. 

“First of all, she’s a beautiful girl; this is on social media and the guys at my paper published it,” Kaaki said in response to the publication.  

“This is Al-Sharq newspaper, the paper of the Press Syndicate’s president Awni Kaaki, president of the misogynistic press, accused in Kuwait of human trafficking prostitutes,” tweeted Zhaim. 

“This is Awni Kaaki who accuses independent women journalists of faking being journalists because they refused to recognize him and the male chauvinist union over which he presides like a rooster.”

 

 

“Al-Sharq newspaper is hardly representative of the Lebanese press and population,” Mohanad Hage Ali, director of communications and fellow at Malcolm H. Kerr Carnegie Middle East Center, told Arab News. 

Ali added that “the newspaper is notorious for their light reporting, often publishing WhatsApp jokes without the slightest fact check.”

However, regardless of whether the feature was designed to be taken seriously, this kind of content is familiar territory in Lebanon. Indeed, racism is one form of discrimination that is rampant and mainstream in the country’s politics and media and targets numerous nationalities, including those from Syria, the Phillippines, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and many others. 

Migrant workers, particularly those from southeast Asian and African countries, have been suffering for decades in Lebanon under the Kafala system where they are treated with abuse, exploitation and a denial of basic human rights.  

Following Lebanon’s devastating economic crisis, many were kicked out of homes where they had worked for years and left on the streets to fend for themselves. 

 

 

In 2015, thousands of people in Lebanon were subjected to an advert which read: “For Mother’s Day indulge Ur Mom and offer her a housekeeper. Special offers on Kenyan and Ethiopian nationalities for a period of 10 days.” 




Text message was sent to thousands of Lebanese numbers. (Twitter)

More recently, Sporting Beach club in Beirut sparked controversy online after its racist policy form made headlines. 

It all started when a regular at the beach club uploaded a Facebook post showcasing a new policy form — targeting migrant domestic workers — that management handed out to their customers. 

The form, which clients were asked to sign, is titled “Helper Dress Policy,” and features an image depicting what a domestic worker should be wearing to be allowed into the beach club.

The form added that those who breach the dress code will be asked to leave the premises without a refund. 




Visitors were provided this form to fill upon entering the beach club. (Step Feed) 

The incident coincided with heavy criticism against the club when the management refused entry to an Indian woman and her daughter. The woman in question was a lecturer attending the club with fellow academics. 

This is not the first time the club has been slammed for racist policies. Indeed, an undercover video taken at its lavish premises exposed a cashier repeatedly refusing to grant entry to an African woman from Madagascar went viral online in 2010.

 

 

 

More recently, a Sudanese TV anchor received heaps of misogynist and racist tweets following a report on her show that criticized the Lebanese government. 

The hate-filled comments targeting Dalia Ahmad, an anchor on Lebanon’s Al-Jadeed news channel, ranged from calling her a “female dog” to tweets suggesting she should be “offered for sale in the slave market, along with her ilk, by ISIS,” another term for terror group Daesh.  

Another tweet said: “By God, by God, whoever wants to attack the Al-Sayyed (Nasrallah), I want to wipe the ground with them and curse those who gave birth to them,” alongside an image of Ahmad with the face of a dog photoshopped over hers. 

Often referred to as a progressive country, Lebanon in reality suffers from a deep case of racism and misogyny. Targeting domestic migrant workers and those with darker skin colors does not seem to be the only form of discrimination. 

Following the Syrian conflict, a similar scourge of racist treatment was felt by Syrian refugees who had fled the atrocities of the civil war into neighboring Lebanon.

Lebanese politicians have been actively scapegoating Syrian refugees and blaming them for economic, social and security failures in the country. In some villages in Lebanon, local authorities have even imposed curfews on Syrian refugees. 

Syrian refugees were often accused of “stealing jobs,” and many were referred to as construction workers or janitors. 

 

 

Mainstream Lebanese media has not been an innocent bystander in this xenophobic targeting. A video went viral on social media in 2016 after Lebanese university students were asked whether they would date a Syrian. Almost all responders said no. 

Explaining their position, the Lebanese interviewed said: “No, because he’s from a different culture,” or “no because he doesn’t speak the language.”

 

 

 


TikTok to clamp down on paid political posts by influencers ahead of US midterms

TikTok to clamp down on paid political posts by influencers ahead of US midterms
Updated 17 August 2022

TikTok to clamp down on paid political posts by influencers ahead of US midterms

TikTok to clamp down on paid political posts by influencers ahead of US midterms
  • Critics and lawmakers accuse TikTok and rival social media companies of doing too little to stop political misinformation and divisive content from spreading on their apps

LONDON: TikTok will work to prevent content creators from posting paid political messages on the short-form video app, as part of its preparation for the US midterm election in November, the company said on Wednesday.
Critics and lawmakers accuse TikTok and rival social media companies including Meta Platforms and Twitter of doing too little to stop political misinformation and divisive content from spreading on their apps.
While TikTok has banned paid political ads since 2019, campaign strategists have skirted the ban by paying influencers to promote political issues.
The company seeks to close the loophole by hosting briefings with creators and talent agencies to remind them that posting paid political content is against TikTok’s policies, said Eric Han, TikTok’s head of US safety, during a briefing with reporters.
He added that internal teams, including those that work on trust and safety, will monitor for signs that creators are being paid to post political content, and the company will also rely on media reports and outside partners to find violating posts.
“We saw this as an issue in 2020,” Han said. “Once we find out about it ... we will remove it from our platform.”
TikTok broadcast its plan following similar updates from Meta and Twitter.
Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, said Tuesday it will restrict political advertisers from running new ads a week before the election, an action it also took in 2020.
Last week, Twitter said it planned to revive previous strategies for the midterm election, including placing labels in front of some misleading tweets and inserting reliable information into timelines to debunk false claims before they spread further online. Civil and voting rights experts said the plan was not adequate to prepare for the election.


Royal Jordanian set to sponsor Arab Influencers Forum

Royal Jordanian set to sponsor Arab Influencers Forum
Updated 17 August 2022

Royal Jordanian set to sponsor Arab Influencers Forum

Royal Jordanian set to sponsor Arab Influencers Forum
  • The airline’s CEO stated that the its sponsorship is in line with its vision to support all efforts promoting Jordan

AMMAN: Royal Jordanian Airlines is sponsoring the inaugural City Talk, a forum for Arab influencers due to take place in Jordan in early October, the Jordan News Agency reported on Tuesday. The airline said that it will also serve as official carrier for the forum’s guests from across the region.

The event is being organized by the Jordan Tourism Board and Omnes Media, a digital-media and communications platform based in Dubai.

Royal Jordanian CEO Samer Majali said the airline’s sponsorship of the event reflects its vision and desire to support all initiatives and events that promote Jordan.

He added that by attracting social media content creators and marketing industry professionals from across the Arab world, the forum will help to market the culture and heritage of Jordan and its tourism sector.

City Talk is scheduled to take place Oct. 2-5 at King Hussein bin Talal Convention Center near Sweimeh, on the Dead Sea shore. More than 500 Arab social media influencers and industry leaders are expected to attend.

The forum will explore and discuss recent advances in the marketing and advertising industry. The schedule includes six panel discussions and six workshops, along with daily meetings with influential Arab figures.


Netflix launches Because She Created writing program in Egypt

Netflix launches Because She Created writing program in Egypt
Updated 16 August 2022

Netflix launches Because She Created writing program in Egypt

Netflix launches Because She Created writing program in Egypt
  • The streamer will work with Sard, a regional hub for scriptwriters, to help local women develop their creative writing and storytelling skills
  • Netflix wants to create ‘more diverse content to ensure that women are represented both on screen and behind the camera,’ said Ahmed Sharkawi, its director of Arabic series

DUBAI: Netflix has partnered with Sard, a dedicated hub for scriptwriters in the Arab world, to coach women in creative writing and help them to develop their storytelling and creative-expression skills through the latest in a series of Because She Created programs.

It is the latest development in an initiative launched last year as a virtual panel discussion to give female Arab filmmakers a chance to talk about the evolving role of women in the regional film industry. Netflix then teamed up with the Cairo International Film Festival for a second Because She Created event, which was a fireside chat with renowned Tunisian actress Hend Sabry.

In July this year, the company used the platform to present a specially curated collection of 21 Arab films designed to shine a light on the work of Arab women in film. 

The writing program, which will take place in Cairo, is designed to provide an incubator for the untapped talents of 20 women from outside of the city and introduce them to the creative tools and industry insight they need to advance their creative and professional development.

“Sard believes that expressing oneself through writing is the first step to self-discovery and we’re proud to have discovered talent through this program that we feel will one day become the scriptwriters of the future,” said Mariam Naoum, the founder and CEO of Sard.

Although Egypt and the wider Arab world is “ripe with talent,” the region needs a “concerted effort and professional support” to help that local talent grow, she added.

“Women in the region, in particular, need this kind of incubation and technical support to gain access to opportunities that advance their professional growth in an industry where their presence is still limited,” said Naoum.

“Sard is trying to achieve this through the work we do and through partnerships with organizations like Netflix that help steer talent in the right direction.”

The five-day program will include storytelling classes, sessions on creative expression, and discussions and talks led by established professionals in the entertainment industry. It will also feature daily activities, including trips to the theater and cinema.

“At Netflix, we recognize that being part of the creative communities comes with responsibilities and that includes the need to develop the talent pipeline and give new voices a chance to be heard,” said Ahmed Sharkawi, director of Arabic series at the streaming service.

The company wants to create “more diverse content to ensure that women are represented both on screen and behind the camera,” he added, and “partnerships like this allow us to equip them with the skills they need to tell the best version of their stories.”

The Because She Created writing program is an initiative of the Netflix Fund for Creative Equity, which aims to create new opportunities for underrepresented communities within the entertainment industry through training and skills development.


Russia fines streaming site Twitch over 31-second ‘fake’ video — agencies

Russia fines streaming site Twitch over 31-second ‘fake’ video — agencies
Updated 16 August 2022

Russia fines streaming site Twitch over 31-second ‘fake’ video — agencies

Russia fines streaming site Twitch over 31-second ‘fake’ video — agencies
  • The court accused Twitch, a U.S.-based live-streaming service popular with video gamers, of failing to remove a 31-second clip of a girl from Bucha

LONDON: A court in Russia has fined streaming service Twitch 2 million roubles ($33,000) for hosting a short video containing what it calls “fake” information about alleged war crimes in the Ukrainian town of Bucha, Russian news agencies reported on Tuesday.
Russia has repeatedly threatened to fine sites — including Google, Twitter and Wikipedia — it accuses of hosting “fake” content related to its military campaign in Ukraine.
The court accused Twitch, a US-based live-streaming service popular with video gamers, of failing to remove a 31-second clip of a girl from the town of Bucha, the Kommersant newspaper reported. It did not specify the content of the video.
Twitch, which is owned by Amazon, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Ukraine and its allies accuse Russian forces of committing atrocities in Bucha, a satellite town of Kyiv, after Moscow launched its invasion in February. Russia denies the charge.
Earlier, RIA reported that Telegram messenger was hit with two fines totalling 11 million roubles ($179,000) for refusing to delete channels which allegedly showed how to “sabotage” military vehicles and hosting “unreliable data” about Russia’s progress in what it calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine.


Judge orders Twitter to give Elon Musk former executive’s documents

Judge orders Twitter to give Elon Musk former executive’s documents
Updated 17 August 2022

Judge orders Twitter to give Elon Musk former executive’s documents

Judge orders Twitter to give Elon Musk former executive’s documents
  • Kayvon Beykpour is considered one of the executives “most intimately involved with” determining the amount of spam accounts, which have become a central issue in the legal fight

LONDON: Twitter Inc needs to give Elon Musk documents from a former Twitter executive who Musk said was a key figure in calculating the amount of fake accounts on the platform, according to a Monday court order.

Bot and spam accounts on Twitter have become a central issue in the legal fight over whether Musk, who is Tesla Inc's chief executive, must complete his $44 billion acquisition of the social media company.

Twitter was ordered to collect, review and produce documents from former General Manager of Consumer Product Kayvon Beykpour, according to the order from Chancellor Kathaleen McCormick of the Delaware Court of Chancery.

Twitter and lawyers for Musk, the world's richest person, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Beykpour, who left Twitter after the social media company agreed in April to be acquired by Musk, was described in Musk's court filings as one of the executives “most intimately involved with” determining the amount of spam accounts.

Beykpour did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent through LinkedIn.

McCormick said in her order on Monday that she was denying Musk's request for access to 21 other people with control over relevant information.

Musk's legal team had written to McCormick last week asking her to order Twitter to hand over employee names so they could be questioned. read more

Musk accused Twitter earlier this month of fraud for misrepresenting the number of real active users on its platform, which Twitter has denied. The company has accused him of breaching his agreement to acquire the company and wants McCormick to order him to complete the deal at $54.20 a share.