On social responsibility and media

Now I pretty much gave up on local TV channels a while ago so I’m not usually up to date with what gets aired on our lovely Lebanese channels.  But recently, I started seeing a lot of buzz on facebook and twitter about the weird (for the lack of any other proper word) mtv sketches that were being aired.
It all started when they did a sketch that was quite racist against foreign female domestic workers.  Their sketch came around the same time when the guardian aired coverage on the death of Lila Aacharya, a Nepali domestic worker who was trafficked into slavery, exploitation and abuse at an up-market apartment in Beirut and found dead under “accusation of suicide”.

You think that was bad?!  Well as the wave of angry comments grew, more videos of past and new sketches started to turn up.  Apparently, the folks at mtv have been quite naughty.  You can check out the rich assortment of racist, sexist and homophobic sketches here.
The point is that there is something called social responsibility.  It mainly states that each and every one of us (individuals, bodies, corporations and so on) has a responsibility to our society.  In this sense, media outlets have the responsibility to respect the different social groups in a given community.  That means that these media outlets should not allow such discriminatory and offensive material to be on the air. If you do agree with this, click on the petition HERE to ask the CEO of mtv to stop airing such offensive material.

What really hits me thought is the lack of any clear message in these sketches.  This is not political satire because there’s no message there. This is at best a feeble and below mediocre attempt at comedy.  If there is anything of value to these sketches is that they fill air time only.

AIDS2012: Catching up with the deadline



So the AIDS2012 is around the corner and the big Feb 15th deadline is only 3 days away. But you can still register and be part of this huge and important conference.


The AIDS2012 is a major event for all those who are interested in HIV/AIDS-related advocacy. The conference attracts thousands of participants and many of them are fierce activists who have always managed to spice things at some point during the past conferences. Most notable is that many decisions and call-to-actions are made during this event that directs the work for the coming years.

Despite the importance of the event to the health and human rights of LGBTIQ, issues concerning these populations have been poorly represented at International AIDS Conferences in the past. At the last International AIDS Conference, only 2.6% and 1.1% of all sessions were dedicated to MSM and transgender issues respectively. It is time for this to change (MSMGF, 2012).

That’s why I encourage anyone who is interested to apply for the conference since it’s a very rich and satisfying experience. You can apply on behalf of your organization/network or even on a personal basis but the first usually makes it easier to get a scholarship.

Since the deadline is so close, I suggest that you do the following;

  1. Go to to the website and and create your conference profile here –> http://profile.aids2012.org (you’ll need to do this even if are applying on behalf of an organization/network)
  2. Complete a scholarship request. Scholarships are available for registration fee, travel, accommodation and/or stipend (the decision on the amount of the scholarship that you will receive depends on your contribution to the conference and how much can you communicate the information back home). The scholarships are available to people from resource-limited settings and communities, researchers, young people, community activists and civil society representatives.
  3. Even if you do not have a scientific abstract to submit, you can still submit a project/activity abstract. There are tons of satellite activities that take place alongside the conference. One of the major outlets that you can contribute to is through the YouthVillage. This year the Youth programme task force is collaborating with YouthForce DC to organize the YouthVillage. I suggest that you see what kind of an interesting activity that you can do and submit it. For information, you can contact them at youth@aids2012.org. They are very friendly and welcoming and usually reply to your emails fast, so don’t hesitate to email them if want more information on the type of activities that you can do.

There are a couple of things to remember here. First is that you can fill the scholarship application and the youth activity/project through your personal conference profile. You don’t have to do everything now but I suggest that you create your conference profile first and apply for the scholarship then you can submit the activity/project later on and link it to your profile. Remember that the deadline is 15th of February, so you should do it now if you want to make it.

What happens if you don’t submit a project/activity?

Nothing really. You can still attend the conference but you more likely to get a scholarship if have an abstract/project/activity accepted at the conference.

What if I didn’t get a scholarship? or if I didn’t get a full scholarship?

Well, there are other options. There first is to find someone to sponsor you. There are a lot of funders out there who are willing to fund this kind of things if you write a convincing proposal.
One of my friends managed to get a fund for 10 young persons to the last conference in 2010 this way. During the IHRA conference last year, one of the participants that I met there told me that she did a fundraiser party to be able to participate in the conference. Get creative 🙂

Also, starting 1st of April, you can submit a volunteer application at the conference. They usually accept all volunteering applicants. You get a free pass to the entire conference outside your shift times (which might also coincide with the sessions that you want to attend). You also get a stipend and a lunch per day but no support for visa, accommodation or travel. (p.s. for accommodation you check possible hostlers center or even http://www.couchsurfing.org/ for the adventurous one).

P.s.: Book your ticket from the conference website if you are going to cover it since they offer a 20% discount. The Visa will cost you between150$-200$ and takes a lot of time to be issued so apply for it early on! Anyway if you have any questions, you can refer to the conference website at aid2012.org and if you can’t find what you want email them directly.