Middle East Conference 2013: “Your Rights & My Responsibilities” – Day 4

Welcome to Day 4!

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15) How Should the Church Respond to the Arab Uprisings: Challenges & Opportunities within the Emerging MENA Region [10:00 – 11:30am]

Session Purpose: To gain deeper insight into the realities facing the MENA church in light of the Arab Uprisings, considering the range of possible responses Christ-centered communities might take and the potential implications for ongoing, context-specific witness in the region.

Discussants:

  • Ehab el-Kharrat
  • Imed Dabbour
  • Danut Manastireanu

Questions Being Addressed:

  • What role has the Church taken in the socio-political context prior to the Arab Uprisings, and how has this role been impacted as a result of what’s occurring?
  • What are some of the distinct features of the Arab Uprisings as they relate to specific countries and the Christ-focused faith communities within those countries?
  • In what manner has the church been engaged in ‘utilitarian ethics’?

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16) Islamization of Society & Human Rights For All – Is It Possible? [12:30 – 1:30pm]

Session Purpose: To explore the ‘Islamization’ of society within the emerging MENA region and the subsequent implications of this process for religious minorities, gaining deeper insight into the similarities and differences between varying concepts of religious human rights in the region.

Discussants:

  • Hani Abdalla
  • Ehab el-Kharrat

Questions Being Addressed:

  • What are some of the different visions for society in relation to Islam?
  • What is an appropriate Islamic response towards Christian and other minority faith groups within the dominant Muslim context of the emerging MENA socio-religious and political landscape? What are some of the tensions and opportunities for a healthy coexistence?
  • Which Islamic sources speak to this issue?

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17) Human Trafficking in the Global & MENA Contexts [5:00 – 6:30pm]

Session Purpose: To provide a general perspective on the issue of human trafficking in its various guises, within both global and MENA contexts, introducing the scale of this modern-day slave trade and its implications.

Presentation: Tim Costello

Questions Being Addressed:

  • How does modern-day slavery manifest itself within differing global and MENA contexts?
  • What are some of the personal and social consequences of human trafficking?
  • In what ways can the global and local church respond to the issue of human trafficking?

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18) The Sex Trade & Human Trafficking in Lebanon [8:00 – 9:30pm]

Session Purpose: To gain an understanding of the way/s in which human trafficking (for the purpose of sexual exploitation) takes place in Lebanon, helping participants understand the complexities of the socio-economic conditions that support this flourishing industry and examine its implications from the perspective of both human rights and social responsibility.

Presentation: Ghada Jabbour

Questions Being Addressed:

  • How does the ‘super nightclub’ system work in Lebanon?
  • How does the Lebanese political-economic context benefit from the sex trade and human trafficking?
  • How are the lives of individuals and their families impacted through this industry?

3 thoughts on “Middle East Conference 2013: “Your Rights & My Responsibilities” – Day 4

  1. Khalil, thank you for your insightful thoughts [and sorry for the delay in responding]. I tend to agree with what you are saying, and whilst certain ‘movements’ may be ‘trendy’ for a time, I guess that does not invalidate their helpfulness. Like you I agree that we need to re-examine masculinity, and our view of women, at a profound level, if we are to honour God, who’s image we are all created in, male and female [Gen1:27] as well as women who face, on a constant basis, abuse and negative experiences at the hands of men.

  2. I agreed with most of what Jabbour said, but she and I differ on one area. At the end I asked a question about engaging men and what programs are there that are designed to help change the masculine culture that allows rape, trafficking, and abuse to occur. In the West we have programs and campaigns like One in Four, Men Can Stop Rape, and White Ribbon…designed to challenge and educate men on women’s rights by making it a men’s issue. The response that I was given was this type of campaign is “in fashion” now and that men should be seen as allies (true) but the issue needs to be worked through and “owned” by women (disagree). I do say this as a Western male, but I strongly feel that in order to stop the crisis of exploiting women men have to be engaged in a more direct manner. The truth of the matter is that men are the largest perpetrators of sexual crime, so how does keeping this issue primarily in the hands of women exactly benefit women?

    I love Lebanon and am blessed beyond measure to be able to live and serve here, to have a wife from Zahlé, and a home in Beirut…among the children I’ve been charged with protecting and caring for. The reality of Lebanon is that family law is tied up in the religious courts and the last thing on the government’s mind is to challenge the current thinking of women’s rights and sexuality. I applaud and respect KAFA for working diligently in helping new laws get passed and running awareness campaigns on the needs and problems. In regards to trafficking, rape, and women/children’s rights we need to fight on two fronts, the legal/legislative and the social. Why do we not have campaigns that target the Christian and Muslim communities on redefining masculinity? Is it too hard? Redefining masculinity doesn’t mean that men are emasculated or demoted in stature, it means that men recognize the value of women and see the value of life and humanity in them. In the fight against sexual exploitation we must engage men and get them to help transform culture. This region is a male dominated culture, we need men to help engage other men and get that culture to transform into a culture that values life and appreciates gender differences.

    During her talk Jabbour had some quotes from men that either operated or patronized Super Night Clubs, where women are routinely sexually exploited. One quote in particular was sickening as the man indicated he knew the women were being exploited and harmed, but continued to use them all the same. This attitude isn’t limited to the Middle East, its a global sickness and it needs to be addressed by women, but in full partnership with men. While we work on passing better laws and educating judges and law enforcement we have to work on confronting men…men who can challenge other men, men who can take a stand and say that their strength is not for hurting. When you look at issues surrounding the protection and empowerment of women you want to encourage them to take control of their lives, you come alongside of them and say you are here to support them. The last thing you want to do when helping sexually exploited women is take over completely, it is a form of control and abusive in its own right. By inviting men to take an active role in protecting women and securing their rights you aren’t encouraging men to take over. Rather, by having men engage men you have an ally that can engage HIS culture to protect HER rights.

    I challenge KAFA on their thinking in this regard and hope that at some point we’ll see a more active role for men in preventing sexual exploitation. I have heard the statement, “Some women are for sex and some are for marriage,” here in Lebanon and elsewhere in the world. To change that attitude in men you need to develop a culture of masculinity that values female life and liberty, we need to train our sons to look at women not as object but as people. We need to train our sons to think that giving women rights doesn’t mean the loss of their rights. We need to teach RESPECT! Perhaps the legal battles and journey for protective legislation would be augmented with a social movement that engages men…the laws and legal definitions will struggle unless society begins to value the fight against trafficking and exploitation.

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