Even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, figures indicated that 1 out of 4 women in Lebanon are sexually harassed and 49% of those cases are perpetrated by the victims’ close relatives or acquaintances. According to the statistics of the General Directorate of Internal Security Forces, around 3 women per week reported sexual assault in Lebanon. The already existing gender-based violence risks at home and public spaces are exacerbated due to self-isolation, heightened tensions, financial uncertainties and disruption of life-saving services. Since the pandemic, which was accompanied with a sharp economic crisis and a massive explosion that destroyed much of the centre of the capital, Beirut, Lebanon have seen an alarming rise in crimes, theft and reporting on violence against women, where official data have shown an increase in reporting cases of domestic violence by 100% only in the first months of the lockdown..

In response to the above reality, and since digital media was the only possible tool to taking action and supporting women and girls at these challenging times, Fe-Male and with the support of UK Sigrid Rausing Trust produced a series of 4 videos including self-defense tips that were disseminated widely online, because ensuring women and girls’ safety is our priority, and they deserve to learn the proper skills to defend themselves against threat, violence or attacks. The videos reached 1 186 545 women and girls and the high engagement rate showed how much this kind of information was needed and appreciated: 1 815 shares and 5 623 likes.

You can check below the videos and self-defense tips provided by Nancy Rached, coach in mixed marital arts, kickboxing fighter and winner of the Lebanese and Asian championship in Kickboxing and member of the Lebanese Federation of Jeet Kune Do. According to Nancy, “In the alarming chance that you find yourself confronted with someone who might cause you harm, knowing how to defend yourself will give you the potential upper-hand and may buy you enough time to get away to safety. Women and girls trained in self-defense find themselves more confident in their ability to confront unwanted actions and realize the warning signs of assault”.