BEIRUT: Around 50 motorcyclists rolled out of Ain al-Mreisseh over the weekend, headed for a memorial statue in Baabda for women victims of domestic violence in a bid to raise awareness about a campaign launched by rights group ABAAD. The statue was erected earlier in the year by ABAAD, alongside President Michel Aoun. The group’s latest campaign is seeking to increase awareness of rights for female survivors of human trafficking and sexual assault by rolling out large posters across Internal Security Forces centers throughout Lebanon.
The Arabic-language posters will set out women’s rights in the event they are questioned by the ISF in relation to crimes, such as their right to a translator, psychological support, shelter and legal representation.
ABAAD will conduct regular training sessions for ISF educators as part of the campaign. The aim is “to train every member [of staff] about these rights and about gender-based violence and human trafficking,” ABAAD’s media coordinator Zayna Ayyad told The Daily Star.
The ride Saturday was jointly organized with motorcycle community groups Ladies of Harley and Lebanon Riders, who rode in a convoy along the route, with ABAAD’s campaign flags on their bikes.
“We approached them,” Ayyad said, adding, “We wanted to do this event in a special way where we get people who maybe don’t know much about these causes. They were very supportive.”
“We did the ride to support women,” said Carole Khazzaka, one of the members of LOH who assisted in organizing the ride. “It was about raising awareness.”
“It’s not only about imposing ourselves as lady bikers. We did that ride to support women in general,” she said.
Khazzaka highlighted the diversity among the motorcyclists, with “ISF bikers riding alongside ladies and male riders.”
ISF motorcyclists were active participants in the ride, with bikers at various checkpoints along the route distributing flyers with information about ABAAD’s campaign.
“We did our ride with many other male riders,” Khazzaka said. “We did it for women’s rights.”
Khazzaka, who was the first female Harley Owners Group road captain in the MENA region, said that Ladies of Harley frequently supported campaigns of this nature.
“We’re trying to improve the image of riders,” she said.
As the convoy arrived in Baabda, an event was held with speeches from each of the groups involved, including ISF spokesperson Col. Joseph Moussallem and Ghida Anani, director of ABAAD.
Moussallem was not available for comment when The Daily Star contacted him Monday about the event and the ISF’s participation.