Since 2019, the security situation in Lebanon has worsened. The country continued to face a major economic, political, and social crisis, resulting in severe shortages of necessities and safety, especially in the lives of girls and women, and those who live in remote areas.
While in a country like Lebanon, which ranks extremely low in gender equality and enforcing serious protection laws, girls with the right knowledge and skills, can be better prepared to protect themselves and learn how to mitigate safety risks and effectively respond to violence.
In the summer of 2022, and after launching a series of online videos during the 2021 lockdown, that introduced tips on self-defence, Fe-Male decided following the requests of audience and high engagement from girls in specific to expand the intervention offline, after the quarantine came to an end. As such, Fe-Male started in 2022 a self defence program providing free sessions for girls and young women aged between 13 and 28 in its new safe space centres in Tripoli and Nabatiyeh.
“Self-defence is an efficient technique of transforming fear into power” according to Alissar Al Fadel, 28 years old taekwondo coach, who conducted the sessions in South Lebanon.
Alissar told us that the sessions were very special and energetic and that this was her first time coaching a group of girls at Nabatieh.
Alissar explained, most of the girls were assured that they would not behave the same way if they took the self-defense sessions before.
Nour Fakih, 16 years, lives in Nabatieh said that the sessions helped her a lot, she learned new techniques to defend herself and she recommended that each girl should learn to defend herself.
Aya Merabi of Tripoli, 26 years, said she has gained new insights into how to protect herself in sensitive situations like the ones we are experiencing these days.
Despite the various challenges that faced the implementation of sessions, including some community resistance to engaging girls in such training, the results were a motivation for us to continue considering this program as a priority.
In their words:
“The sessions made me more confident and helped me build up myself against everything, particularly in these chaotic days in our country”.
“Taekwondo instilled confidence in me and taught me new physical movements”.
“Now I trust myself more as a woman and I know how to protect myself”.
“I am grateful for this opportunity as much as the girls are. It was a great experience and unfamiliar with the surrounding area”.