Lebanon: The adventures of Salwa: a comic to combat sexual harrasment in Lebanon

Publication Date: 
June 15, 2010

is the image of the first campaign against sexual harassment in Lebanon. The League of Independent Activists – has launched this campaign with the aim of combating  ‘all forms of sexual harassment, physical and verbal abuse against children, girls, and women’. This is in particular a response to a drastic increase in such incidence in universities, schools, streets, workplaces and on public transport.

Salwa is an average Lebanese woman who is fed up with the sexual harassment that has become part of her life…


…and decided to take control of the situation. Her ‘superpowers’: a handbag.


The comic, launched through , aims to create a series of cartoons for TV and the first chapter can be already seen on YouTube.


The campaign will include , still under construction, and a ‘booklet containing guidance for women to defend themselves in case they are subjected to harassment or rape, and instructions on how to file a complaint’. The campaign will  launch ‘Salwa Day’ in different regions in Lebanon, where ‘Salwa bags’, which contain instructions and methods to deal with sexual harassment, will be distributed. In addition, awareness workshops will be organized.

I am glad that the campaign does not stop at teaching how to use a handbag as a ‘weapon’ to stop harassment. The idea is that the handbag acts as a tool to ask victims of sexual harassment to speak out and to give visibility to situations that are normally not dealt with publicly. However, there is a risk that such visibility can be dangerous for the victims, I know.

I still remember the day I put into practice Salwa’s method. I had lived for almost 4 or 5 years in a country where sexual harassment is almost a norm and one day, before I had time to think, my hand reacted and the guy received a huge blow not from a handbag but from a little suitcase I was carrying full of books. He was not happy at all and he reacted, kicking me back. I finished with a big bruise on my leg. In defence of the handbag method, I will argue that I felt a little satisfaction despite my bruise and what is more important, because I was in the street, people supported me confronting the aggressor. However, if I had been alone the situation may have been quite different.

Salwa is not the only female character created by a woman in Lebanon. She has come to join , created in 2007 by , a superwoman decided to save Lebanon from its violent destiny.



And the moon-dreamer , created by the Palestinian cartoonist ,


and Maya, created by , who has already seen her adventures published in a book  .



Maya Zankul was also the author of another animated cartoon used to advertise , a campaign for migrants rights created by a coalition of NGOs and independent activists in Lebanon.


Women in Lebanon have started using a tool that has traditionally been the preserve of men.


To see original article, go to: