June 10, 2014
Outspoken Jordanian artist and rape survivor Manal Samir exhibits her art in Byblos, Lebanon. She cannot show her artwork in Jordan because of the social constraints and taboos that surround the issues of rape and mental illness. 34 year old Manal Samir was first raped by her close relative at the age of 4. The sexual abuse continued until she reached the age of 15 and was old enough to know it was wrong and speak out against it. She got married at the age of 27, but divorced after just 2 years. An art school graduate, she uses her artwork art work confronts her childhood trauma and failed marriage. Manal also suffers from Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
(01:07) “I want to say so many things, first of fall I want to say that this kind of damage is very painful and dangerous; nobody can imagine the repercussions of it. I could have hidden my face, and appeared only as a voice, but how many people have appeared only with a voice and their faces hidden? No I will appear with my face and voice, and speak out loud. This harm should stop, because this kind of harm burns the life of the person, it is a horrible thing for a child to be killed before they grow up, if you want to hurt a child, kill him, just do not let him live a sick fragile life and that is why I am trying to deliver that message” (01:58)
(02:41) “I am not only addressing the Arab world with my message, I am addressing it to the whole world, millions around the world are suffering from this difficult issue and they are living a very numb and confused life, I do not know how years are passing by to them” (03:04)
(03:38) “A person grows and gets blamed for being violent or harmful or wrong but in reality they are a victim” (03:50)
(04:30) “Beirut, I love it so much, we all know how much harm Beirut has suffered from, financially and emotionally, and all kinds of harm, till Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri came and got Beirut up on its feet, and I consider myself, of course if you allow me and it is an honor to be a twin with Beirut, because I rise from the ashes, just as Beirut rises from the ashes, Manal also falls and always rises, and she likes to be similar to Beirut, and I wish you would accept me to be a twin of Beirut” (05:17)
(06:10) “This piece specifically is not like any other piece, it has nothing to do with the sexual harm, it is related to a damage that happened later on; this is a young beautiful girl who can grow up to be like all the other young girls, like my sisters, or anybody else but they destroyed her life in a different way, she almost hit puberty, she did not actually and look where she found herself, she is wearing something she does not even understand what it is, she is wearing shorts underneath, she truly does not understand anything, and when this young girl grows up she will become like this picture and she will suffer from enormous pain and her life will become ashes and broken glass, and we do not want that, please stop” (07:24)
(08:00) “My whole purpose is to find help everywhere just as I found help here in Beirut because I want to deliver my message to the furthest places on earth, and a little while ago I got someone telling me that a similar thing happened to them when they were a child and they thanked me for the encouragment, this is a small fragment of my dreams” (08:35)