Sleiman El Hajj


Childhood sexual abuse, including incest, is underreported and often unreported in the staunchly patriarchal Lebanese setting. The revolutionary spirit that accompanied the country’s October 2019 uprising instigated hope that Lebanese patriarchy, and its concomitant juggernaut of warlords and/or formidable father figures—social, political, cultural, religious, and familial—were not immune to opprobrium in public and private spheres alike. It is within this context that this poem’s protagonist, a friend and fellow demonstrator, managed to share her memories of traumas lived in 1980s Beirut. Written not only with the permission but also at the request of the subject in the story, this childhood memory in verse retells its female narrator’s experiences of child sex abuse in Lebanon, a topic largely shrouded in debilitating silence.

Author Biography

Sleiman El Hajj is Assistant Professor of Creative and Journalistic Writing in the Departments of Communication, Arts and Languages (CAL) at the Lebanese American University. His research interests include creative nonfiction, gender studies, narrative constructions of home, queer theory, and Middle Eastern literature. Dr. El Hajj has been appointed to visiting research fellowships at the University of Oxford’s Department of International Development, and Harvard University’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies, and is Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, U