The tragic news of the death of Nicole Assaf, a fourth year Civil Engineering student at the American University of Beirut, has shaken us all badly.
I mean, of course it would. An accomplished 21 year old a few months away from graduation was found in a pool of blood in Hamra without a definite reason. Was it a murder? Was it a suicide? What exactly happened?
It’s a scene straight out of a thriller film: sad, horrifying, and makes you think, what really went on?
Speculations will fly, however. Here is an example of a conversation that happened between my fiance Ahmad and one of his coworkers. Let’s call him X.
X: Did you hear about the girl who was raped and found dead in Hamra?
Ahmad: Wait a minute, we don’t know if she was raped. All the story said was that she was found dead.
X: Of course she was raped. She was an AUB student.
Here I interjected…
Me: What? He actually said that? So he’s implying AUB students deserve to be raped? I wonder what he thinks about me then.
Ahmad: Oh sweetie, you’d definitely be way past that point (said jokingly).
I haven’t stopped thinking about what X said. Mainly because X represents a good chunk of our society that think a woman brings rape upon herself because she’s dressed in a certain way or acts in a way that doesn’t conform with specific expectations.
It’s always the woman’s fault, unfortunately. Poor her, they’ll say, should a tragedy occur, but she played a a part in this too.
We don’t even know the full story yet and already she has been accused of being raped (like it is her fault) because she is a female student at one of the most prestigious universities in the country.
Mind you, this inflammatory comment was coming from someone fairly young who interacts with people (females too) on a daily basis.
Then again, nothing scares that chunk of people like an educated woman. A woman who is empowered and stands up and says no.
I wish people would wait until the results of the investigation come out before they start jumping to conclusions on what happened. And I also wish that people would respect Nicole’s memory and her family’s right to privacy before speculating.
Rest in peace Nicole and may God grant your family the patience to overcome this period. We can only hope the investigations will reveal what truly happened and that the right actions will take place.