Taboo-breaking website ‘Love Matters’ launches at the Netherlands-Flemish Institute in Cairo
On Wednesday the 5th of March the Netherlands-Flemish Institute opened its doors for the launch event of the new website ‘Love Matters Arabic’. The project is an initiative of the Radio Netherlands Worldwide and offers young people in the Arabic world a platform to talk and learn about love, sex and relationships in their mother tongue.
The day started with an interesting panel discussion on the topic of ‘Media and Sexual Education for the youth in Egypt’. Among the speakers was the famous Egyptian actor and activist Khaled Abol Naga, who expressed his admiration for the initiative and added: “There are three taboos in Egypt: politics, religion and sex. The Egyptians where able to break the first two and I’m positive about the fact that the people in the street will break the third taboo soon.”
Participants working in the areas of media, reproductive health, development and youth work, joined the event and shared their experiences in the field. After some lively discussions, there was time for a break and the screening of the Egyptian short film ‘Libido’ which addresses the problem of the lack of sexual education for young people in Egypt.
Abir Serras, coordinator of Love Matters Arabic, introduced us to the website with a nice presentation and some interesting numbers. Egypt currently ranks third in the world when it comes to Internet searches for the word “sex”. Yet a recent study by Ford Foundation found that 86 percent of Arabic online information on reproductive health they examined contained inaccurate information. Love Matters wants to do something about this lack of reliable online resources. Via an interactive website, a Facebook page and a Twitter account, they offer young Arab adults a virtual space where they can engage with issues relating to love, sex and relationships. Aimed at people between 18-30, it is the first time a website of this kind and scale is available in the Arabic language. While talking openly and without shame, it also takes into consideration the cultural and religious values of the target audience.
Concluding with a reception with delicious Lebanese fingerfood, the Love Matters launch was a successful day and a nice celebration of the start of this important initiative
(co-organizer of the NVICinema program
and researcher at Love Matters Arabic)