SYRIA DEEPLY

What Syrian Soap Operas Tell Us About Bashar Al-Assad

The popular TV dramas were once considered a reflection of the Syrian President's will for reform. Things have changed since the uprising in 2011, even if the shows must go on.

'Birth from the Waist' Syrian soap opera, aka 'musalsalat'
'Birth from the Waist' Syrian soap opera, aka 'musalsalat'
Donatella Della Ratta

Syria’s soap operas, known as "musalsalat," have a large following in the country. Donatella Della Ratta, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School specializing in the study of musalsalat, explains that they tend to last for a month through the end of Ramadan, or just until after Eid, usually 30 episodes of around 40 or 45 minutes each.

Della Ratta spent five years in Damascus and studied how the medium’s narratives changed as protests began in 2011. This is what she found:

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Society

Face In The Mirror: Dutch Hairdressers Trained To Recognize Domestic Violence

Early detection and accessible help are essential in the fight against domestic violence. Hairdressers in the Dutch province of North Brabant are now being trained to identify when their customers are facing abuse at home.

Hair Salon Rob Peetoom in Rotterdam

Daphne van Paassen

TILBURG — The three hairdressers in the bare training room of the hairdressing company John Beerens Hair Studio are absolutely sure: they have never seen signs of domestic violence among their customers in this city in the Netherlands. "Or is that naïve?"

When, a moment later, statistics appear on the screen — one in 20 adults deals with domestic violence, as well as one or two children per class — they realize: this happens so often, they must have victims in their chairs.

All three have been in the business for years and have a loyal clientele. Sometimes they have customers crying in the chair because of a divorce. According to Irma Geraerts, 45, who has her own salon in Reusel, a village in the North Brabant region, they're part-time psychologists. "A therapist whose hair I cut explained to me that we have an advantage because we touch people. We are literally close. The fact that we stand behind people and make eye contact via the mirror also helps."

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