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Dear Rebecca Dykes…

Dear Rebecca,

As a half-Lebanese, I am so sorry.

As a present-day Beiruti, I am so sorry.

As a former aid-worker, I am so sorry.

As an expat just about everywhere, I am so sorry.

And most of all, as a woman, I am so sorry.

We like to think of ourselves as safe.

We like to think we are free to go where we please.

… wear what we want.

… be where we want.

… leave when we want.

We like to believe that we are free to exist in any space just like anyone else.

And why shouldn’t we?!

Your tragic death is a reminder that we’re not.

We don’t yet know exactly what happened. You were in Gemmayze, in a bar, with your friends, on a Friday night. Haven’t we all been there?! We’ve all been you, Rebecca.

But then something happened that should never have. And we cannot undo it. We can’t go back and erase this and fix it for you. We can’t set you free to live out your life – you were only just warming up. We can’t tell you that you deserve to be out, to feel safe, to be free.

I hope the Lebanese police know what to do – and that they find who is responsible and ensure that they are never free again.

Because why should they be free when you cannot be?!

And any woman in any Gemmayze bar on any Friday night might also wonder if she’s really safe and free as well.

She’s not.

I don’t know if she ever was.

I wish it were different.

Lebanon needs to have a rethink. Are we developed? Progressive? Open? Safe?! Beirut exists as opposing cliches: bomb-broken or party-packed. Where does your story fit between these narrow parameters?!

And you came to do good. To do something meaningful and – hopefully – make something better. This isn’t what should happen to those who are brave enough to care for places that aren’t their own.

For now I am sad for what happened to you, I’m angry at Lebanon, I’m scared for women, and I’m so very sorry.

#Beirut #BritishEmbassyLebanon #RebeccaDykes #VAW

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