Adonis Diaries

Archive for October 25th, 2013

Abusive relationships? Why women refrain from breaking it? And vice versa…

As a resident doctor at AUB Medical Center (Beirut), Lubna Abul-Husn took a deep interest in domestic abuse.

Ten years ago, she interviewed dozens of patients, cataloging their experiences at home with “intimate partner violence,” a term that refers to physical, emotional and verbal abuse of a close partner or spouse.

Kareem Shaheen published in the Lebanese daily The Daily Star, this Oct. 19, 2013: “Why do women in Lebanon stay in abusive relationships?”

Lubna Abul-Husn then spent a year in France studying family legal medicine, returned home and ended her engagement with a fiancé from her province.

Her fiance broke into her home, killed her, her mother and her sister, before committing suicide, according to her colleagues at the time.

File - Women activists protest against domestic violence near the Parliament in Beirut, Monday, July 22, 2013. (The Daily Star/Mahmoud Kheir)

File – Women activists protest against domestic violence near the Parliament in Beirut, Monday, July 22, 2013. (The Daily Star/Mahmoud Kheir)

“It was devastating,” said Johnny Awwad, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and head of the division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at AUB Medical Center, and Abul-Husn’s colleague.

Awwad, along with other doctors at AUB, completed the analysis of Abul-Husn’s research. The paper was finally submitted for publication this year in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence.

“We couldn’t really look at this paper for the longest time,” he said. “We had been avoiding looking back at this phase but I don’t think that gives her justice.”

The study polled 100 married women aged 20-65 who were visiting the AUB Medical Center for gynecological care.  91 women responded to the survey.

It is one of the few studies that tries to quantify the prevalence of domestic abuse in Lebanon, and that looks at the reasons behind why women here stay in abusive relationships.

But perhaps its most startling discovery is how even women in these relationships find it completely normal for such abuse to happen – a testament to how ingrained the gender imbalance is in society.

“Intimate partner violence is an underestimated problem in Lebanon and has been largely ignored by the local authorities,” the study said.

“The Lebanese health care system has failed so far to play a proactive role in identifying and referring abused women, mostly because the recognition of an abusive pattern in women is often blurred by cultural and societal taboos.”

Over 40% of the women polled said they had suffered from physical abuse. A third endured sexual abuse, nearly two-thirds were victims of verbal abuse, and 19% said they had experienced emotional abuse.

More than a fifth of the women had suffered social isolation imposed by their husbands.

The top reasons women expressed as a reason for staying in an abusive relationship were a lack of familial and social support, lack of financial resources and fear that their husband would take away the children.

In 8 of the cases that suffered physical abuse, medical attention was required and three cases were admitted to hospital with vertebral fractures and miscarriages.

But the study went further, selecting a subsample of 33 women and asking them open-ended questions on their husbands’ treatment.

All the women, including those who were abused, said they were satisfied with their husbands’ treatment.

“Many abused women are totally resigned to their situation and decide to stay in an abusive relationship because of the fear of losing their children, the need to conform to social expectations, the lack of financial independence, the lack of family support, and the duty to obey their spouses,” the researchers said.

Domestic abuse appeared to usher in other social ills.

Women who suffered physical and verbal abuse were more likely to be smokers.

Husbands who had a history of alcohol abuse were more likely to impose social and economic isolation on their wives.

Declining monthly income made it more likely for a husband to use a weapon against his wife, while a higher number of children offered a protective factor for women, illustrating the challenges wrought by economic, security and political instability in the country.

The head and the extremities were the most frequent areas of the woman’s body suffering from physical injury, and hitting was the most frequent mechanism of abuse followed by slapping and pushing.

The rate of domestic violence in Lebanon is in sync with other developing countries and Arab societies, where comparable rates of abuse are present as well as similar justifications for staying in abusive relationships.

As part of their recommendations, the study’s authors, who are all doctors at AUB Medical Center, said that health centers in Lebanon ought to routinely screen patients in order to identify victims of domestic abuse.

Awwad said that such a step, while there is no evidence that it reduces abuse, would be a first step toward referring victims of abuse to support groups and treating the root causes of some of their problems.

But part of the issue is that the conversation around domestic abuse in Lebanon often focuses on anecdotal cases of violence, rather than tracking the prevalence of the issue in society.

“It is not enough to create support groups in our society that come and tell you that he’s been hitting you, he’s been abusing you, come to us and we’re going to support you,” Awwad said.

“Then what? Who is going to support the kids and secure her re-entry into society that stigmatizes her,” he said. “They cannot create another society for her. It’s a dead end, unfortunately, in this part of the world.”

That is partly because of the tribal nature of Lebanese society.

“Lebanon is a big tribe,” he said. “Where you go people would know you and would stigmatize you. You would have to travel and leave the country. So you’d have to stay with the family and your husband and believe that it’s normal.”

This,  Awwad said, leads to an acceptance of domestic abuse as a normal part of existence. The other issue is cultural.

The study’s authors said that domestic violence against women tends to be seen as a private, internal matter and not a major public health issue in Arab societies that are “patriarchal and characterized by male authority and dominance.”

That is reflected in how intimate partner violence had been largely ignored by local legal and religious authorities.

Awwad and his colleagues point to the initial rejections by religious authorities of domestic abuse legislation, which they saw as usurping the role of religion which already deals with the issue of domestic violence, and the continued failure to pass laws against domestic abuse.

A law protecting women from violence has been in legislative limbo for a long time due to Parliament’s failure to convene. Religious authorities initially opposed the legislation because they said Islam already deals with women’s rights and domestic relations.

“It would be a good step to pass this law,” Awwad said, adding that it could help deter some abuse, but would not be able to erase the “inherent right” that many men feel they have in wielding power in the household.

That built-in inequality is what poses enormous challenges to those who seek to challenge domestic abuse and society’s complacency toward it. There is little recourse but to begin at a young age, when minds are malleable and prejudice has not yet taken hold.

Values such as equality of women should be introduced at an early stage in education in order to combat such attitudes, Awwad said.

“I think it needs a generation, unfortunately,” he added.

Note: Let’s give priority for women acquiring full citizenship rights as men have.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on October 19, 2013, on page 3.

Read more:
(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News ::

Massacres of 1860 between Druze and Maronite: Eye-witness Account of French diplomat in the field

In 1860, Mount Lebanon was composed of:

1. About 120,00 Christian Maronite

2. 30,000 Druze, claiming to be Moslem

3. 40,000 Christian Orthodox who were called Melkite or Royalist affiliated to Byzantium instead of Papal Rome

4. A few thousand of Shiaa called Metwalis

After the animosity of 1840 between Druze and Maronite, as the Egyptian occupying troops, headed by Ibrahim Pasha, vacated Lebanon and Syria and Emir Bechir II was sent to exile to Malta by the British, Mount Lebanon was wrecked with violence and massacres.

The resolution of the situation ended up dividing Mount Lebanon in two Kaemmakam, or two cantons, self autonomous: One canton administered by the Druze and the second one by the Maronite.

The dividing line was the Beirut-Damascus road. This line was somehow arbitrary since many villages in the Druze cantons were mixed. The Maronite canton was not mixed.

The Ottoman foreign minister, Chekib Effendi was sent to Beirut in 1845 to execute the resolution.

The Druze were not happy with the privileges that Emir Bashir II extended to the Maronites during his over 40 years of reign and were ready to have the Christians pay back as Bashir was exiled to Malta by the British.

Before Egypt Ibrahim Pasha retreated from Syria in 1840, he summoned the Moslem clerics and leaders of Damascus and gave them this warning:

“I have protected the Christians. If I learn that you are back to persecuting and harassing them, I will be back with my army and will take revenge…”

All the while the Maronite exacerbated the Ottoman administrators for demanding the acquired rights and privileges after Ibrahim Pasha vacated Lebanon.

In 1940 and again in 1845, the Maronites launched two offensives in the Druze canton and were smashed hands down.

The Druze warlords and chieftains behaviors were close to Medieval tradition: The Maronite were laborers at the sold of the Druze feudal lords and treated as chattel.

The village of Deir al Kamar was the largest Maronite conglomerate, smack within the Druze canton, followed by Jezzine (on the south) and Beit Merry (at the north and within the Metn district). Zahleh was the far away Christian main town in the Bekaa Valley.

Hasbaya, in the southern part of the Bekaa, was mainly mixed with Christian Orthodox who were very industrious and amassed wealth.

In 1857, the Christian Kaemmakam Bechir Ahmed Abi Lema3 was kicked out of office by the Christians, leaving a serious void in the administration. The Ottoman administration wanted to bring back this Kaemmakam to his post.

At the same period, the Christian feudal Khazen clan in Kesrouan had been chased out of the district for serious egregious mistreatment of the peasants, trying to abuse of them as chattel. Consequently, the Maronite canton had no one to administer it: The Maronite clergy was the sole power remaining to keep the peace.

The peasant appointed the illiterate Tannous (Tanios) Chahine as leader of the peasant revolt. They gathered in Antelias and promulgated the human rights for the peasants and work ethics.

The Maronite peasants in the Druze canton got contaminated by the spirit of the revolt in the Maronite canton and started demanding basic rights.

This revolt lasted two years until the Maronite clergy felt the heat and reversed the objectives of the revolt. A year later, the Maronite clergy appointed the young Youssef Karam from Bsherri (up north) to militarily lead the Maronites. Karam was closely linked to the clergy and France and welcomed the Europeans visiting the Cedars and gave them lodging and dinner.

The Druze Kaemmakam Roslan was very young and basically this canton was administered by Said Jumblat, residing in Moukhtara, and the assembly of Okkal in Bayyada.

Said Jumblat was filthy rich and had acquired vast properties. He was a bastard, very short, ugly, and wore Turkish attire instead of the Druze traditional sherwal.

In 1960, a row took place in Beit Mery, where the European traders and consuls lived for the summer season. This fight spread and the Druze assassinated a few Maronites and burned property.  In general, the Druze men do the killing and their women follow them to burn properties that have been vacated.

The first blood was shed. The European vacated the town, back down to Beirut, a couple hours of horse ride.

Beit Mery was legally in the Maronite canton, but the Metn district was tacitly considered a buffer zone. Consequently, the Nahr el Kalb (Dog River) was the Lebanese Rubicon river not to cross by either parties in period of military upheavals.

The Druze committed another massacre in Jezzine and calmly went back to harvest the silk worms.

The winter of 1961 was spent in both cantons in war preparations.

In Beirut, the Maronite bishop Tobia was the most active politically and harangued the Maronite for revenge.

The Druze attacked Deir al Kamar and the villages of East Saida. The Christians around Saida, fleeing the massacre, were denied safe entry to the city by the Moslems and more Maronites suffered this calamity. (Story to be followed)

Note: Memoirs of a French diplomat who participated in the French expedition of 1860 to Lebanon and Damascus. The book was published in 1903.


Has the time come to do Epic Shit? Permaculture, Humanure, Sober Happiness

What would you do if you were in charge with protecting thousand of acres of woodland from fire? Like these recurring wild-fire in Australia, California, Spain, Portugal…?

 posted on May 20, 2010 in Activism

The Methane Midden: Epic Shit & Jean Pain Composting

Jean Pain was a visionary in the Provence region of  France during the 1970′s.

He was charged with protecting over a thousand of acres of woodland from fire, but his quick and able mind, love of life long learning, and a deep concern for the future of our Earth led him to accomplish something much more indeed.

Jean Pain spent a decade working through the techniques of a fantastic system to use the ever renewable waste brush from his woods into life-giving humus.

And Jean took it to an entirely new level – he began to heat water in his compost piles, enough that he heated greenhouses and his own home. He also began studying up on methane production and he put a batch “methane digester” into his piles to use the “waste” heat from the bio-reactions to provide the ideal environment for methane production.

Before he died, his techniques had reached a level that he was able to produce methane and hot water for up to 18 months – enough for two winters – while also powering his truck, cooking, and producing electricity with the methane gas.

And No special machines, just a deep understanding of Permaculture before the word was even coined.  Partner with Nature to meet your needs.

Jean Pain was a visionary, but his techniques, if anything, are too simple.  They are not sexy at all.

Try writing for a grant to heat water with rotting garbage while going up against a Solar Hot Water array or a wind turbine, let alone algal bio-diesel or whatever comes next.

Compost heat doesn’t create jobs; doesn’t need research studies and cannot be outsourced so it has no place in the Global Economy.

Know what?  Neither do I .  Jean Pain is a hero of mine for doing something that no one cared about because he knew it was just so very right and would be necessary to help save us from ourselves.  I read an awesome quote this week that pushed me over.

“The time has come to do Epic Shit.” Larry Santoyo, Permaculturist

Last week I scored a dump truck load of VERY green chipped mulch.  The rest is now history.

This project is going from drawing board to reality far quicker than I typically work, in fact the next step is typically being formulated as I am driving the wheelbarrow on the step I am currently on.  I knew I was going to do it at my home – that meant keeping it tight on space, visually acceptable, and must fit into the current plan.

Finally, it was to be a temporary structure – 6 months at most.  So I ended up with a 12×10 foot print using straw bales to contain the mulch. Why Straw?

It has structural rigidity, is a great insulator, but also breathes.  The 16″ thick bales would contain the pile into tight angular dimensions and keep the dogs and kids from knocking the pile down.  The insulation would help me get away with only a 2′ thick compost layer around rather than the 3′ I would have preferred if I had more space and material.

The following with be a pictorial journey through the afternoon today – with the help of my friend Kevin, we completed this in about 4 hours.

First I prepped the ground by removing a perennial bed that had succumbed to quack grass.  I chopped the ground up with a mattock as much because the quack needed punishing, but also because a mattock is possibly my favorite tool to use of all time.   Then leveled it with some old wood chips to make it look pretty.

10×12 – in the background you can see the chips soaking in their bins.

Next up was to lay down some temporary weed barrier for the quack, and start building the sides.  Gods do I love to build with straw – so fast!

Bales are on end to save space and stitched together with 2′ pieces of rebar for some rigidity.

Next up was to throw some mulch down to hold the cardboard pallet slips down, and then put the two steel 55 gallon drums in place.  The drums will act as the batch digesters.

Now the Methane Midden is really taking shape – Woot!

With the digesters in place, it was time to put in the heat exchanger.  Compost will heat up ALOT.  The material for this project was at 140 degrees 3 days ago before we broke down the pile to soak it.  Methane production occurs between 85 and about 103 degree.  Over about 105 the bacteria start to die off, 101 is about peak production.

Jean Pain figured out that you needed to cool the digerster tanks, so he pumped water through a hose wrapped around the tanks.

So I bought 240′ to augment the one hose I could spare.  After cooling the tanks, the hose is then laid out throughout the pile to absorb some of the heat from the composting, so the exit water is up to pile temp, typically 130-150 degrees!

290′ of hose wrapping the two barrels, then we threw in 8″ of soaked mulch and laid on our first row of heat exchanger.

The hose is essential to pull the heat from the pile, and it takes a 60′ hose laid out like this to make one lap of the composting layout.

I did absolutely no math on this point, the hoses come in 60′ chunks and we laid them out to make one fit per layer.

I figured 6-8″ between layers should be enough to both heat the water in the hoses, but not too little that the water pulls so much heat that the bio-reaction is slowed.  Time will tell is my intuition was off.

Here we are about 75% done, laying the fourth and final “rung” of heat exchanger:

Isn’t it GORGEOUS?! This project just feels so right!

That is about as far as we got today.  I ran out of mulch about half way through the next layer.  I will finish the pile alternating leaves and grass clippings.  Would like it to be mounded over the top of the digesters about 8″ and will then cap the entire pile with either straw or mulch for insulation and to prevent evaporation.

Some items that may not be evident in the photos.  The heat exchanger is set up counterflow.  That means that the coldest water enters at the top of the barrels, which is where the slurry should be warmest, and then runs through the 290′ of hose around the digesters.

At that point it is at the bottom of the pile, at which point it climbs 4 “rungs” of 60′ hose laid out about every 8″ through the pile.  Total hose length is 530′  for no reason other than that was what it took to do the above and “make it look right” – no fancy math here, just intuition.

Still have some very serious issues to overcome on how to store the methane, and some minor ones on plumbing the tubing.  I am good friends with the head of our village’s waste treatment plant and he is keen to see this project work.  Had him over for a beer as I put the last of the mulch on, we have some ideas that appear workable.

We do have some time – it will take about a week for the pile to hit peak temp and a few more days to heat the water in the drums.  Then we add the slurry, plumb in some tubing to take away the methane, start taking temp readings, and put up the “No Smoking!” signs.

“The time has come to do Epic Shit!”

Note: I watched a documentary on a French TV channel on this pragmatic philosophy of “Sober Happiness“.

There is this 75-year-old French/Algerian “peasant/philosopher Pierre Rabih. This guy has been living in one of the harshest land in France, the Ardesh.

At the age of 25, he married the French Michelle and purchased a run down cottage in this remote area of France. For 15 years, this couple raised their children from the produce of the harsh land that they transformed into a green field. The neighboring community would not come to aid on the premises of not encouraging this family to live under this “survival environment

In the last decade,  Pierre Rabih has been a frequent host on TV interviews, seminars and talk shows exposing his philosophy.

Pierre Rabih has also his own one-week practical sessions for people flocking from around the world to learn how to live this Sober Happiness concept.

The basic idea is that earth cannot sustain increased production in order to satisfy people who want to enjoy this consumerism habit. What is needed is for people to learn how to live soberly and feel happy satisfying their daily needs.

If everyone on this planet wants to live the life-style of the developed nations elite classes, billion will die of famine and live in misery.




Blog Stats

  • 1,513,173 hits

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by

Join 820 other followers
%d bloggers like this: