On Monday, the Arab Foundation for Freedoms and Equality (AFE), a Lebanon-based regional NGO, released a video highlighting the importance of consensual sex.

The video addresses the topic of consent by drawing parallels to Arab traditions and customs, particularly the act of "forcing" guests to eat food while visiting. 

In it, a young woman is visiting her aunt's place, when she gets offered a piece of turmeric cake, better known as sfouf in Lebanon. 

"I don't feel like having a piece of cake, thank you though," the young woman says when offered the dessert. 

The host refuses to take no for an answer, forcing the young woman to take a bite, then two, before forcing the dessert down the woman's throat. 

"We want to start a conversation on one of our biggest public secrets. Other academic and civil society actors have started working on various issues relating to sexual harassment and rape so we wanted to take things a step back and start from the root of it all," Cynthia El Khoury, Associate Director at AFE, told StepFeed. 

"We wanted society to reflect on some of the ways that we unconsciously and culturally teach each other not to respect each other's boundaries. This leads most of us how not to say no and how not to take someone else's no for face value," she added.

"We are not informed about the rights we have over our bodies. We are brought up to think that we do not have a choice and to 'go kiss tante' or 'go sit on 3ammo's lap,'" El Khoury says.

"We need to talk about consent to remind ourselves of the freedoms and rights we have over our bodies and to let others know that boundaries need to be respected." 

"When should she have stopped offering food?" the video's caption reads, raising awareness on the importance of consent. 

In a region where patriarchy rules, certain laws have proven not to work in the favor of women when it comes to gender equality, particularly sexual freedom.

Women are shamed when they choose to explore their sexuality and are blamed when they are sexually assaulted.

AFE is changing the narrative

"Toxic forms of masculinities lead men to become the main perpetrators of sexual violence and harassment. We chose to start with the one that portrays women since women are the main 'target' when it comes to sexual harassment," El Khoury said. 

However, AFE plans to release another video featuring men, shedding light on the "fact that men are also violated sexually and coerced into non-consensual sexual acts." 

AFE’s mission is to "encourage and support activists working for sexual and bodily rights and gender equality in the Middle East and North Africa."

It's about time the concept of consensual sex be reiterated time and again.