Imagine a world where your mother, sister, or future daughter is living in a safe environment. Comforting, right? Unfortunately, to some women, their real world revolves around domestic violence where they are battered and even beaten to death for no reason. Lebanese laws promote gender inequality and discrimination against women when they should protect all their people against any injustice.
Only through addressing the root causes of domestic violence, will we be able to prevent it. Domestic violence can be defined as any incident of threatening behavior, which takes the form of psychological, physical, financial, or emotional abuse between adults regardless of gender. The act of domestic violence can range between refraining from providing money to battering the partner. Through the Lebanese gender-biased upbringing, men are brought up to think that they are superior to women. This allows them to view power as a method of settling arguments or proving their masculinity. Consequently, when the perpetrator’s ego, which society has nourished, is hurt and disregarded, he chooses to establish himself through violence. Apart from this ideology, feelings of low self-esteem, jealousy, anger issues, and inferiority cause domestic violence. Furthermore, such an unfortunate occurrence has a spill-over effect on other people including children and family members who are negatively affected as well.
Despite the Lebanese parliament’s long-awaited recognition of the progression of women and despite KAFA’s successfully-passed 2014 amendment, the law is still archaic. The patriarchal system, based on the old French legal system, is far too outdated and puts women in harmful ways. Law 293, for example, has serious flaws and setbacks that need major alterations since it does not provide full protection for women. The law is so anachronistic, that KAFA’s 2014 amendment had to include giving a woman the ability to get a restraining order against her abuser. Despite all of the gaps present in Lebanese law and legislation that fails to protect women, the most severe flaw is that it fails to criminalize rape, which absolves the rapist of his crime if he marries his victim.
Sacrifices need to be made and beliefs need to be put aside to reach the desired goal. The primary solution is to fully implement KAFA’s suggested laws and criminalize the concept of violence by developing a strong national strategy and following up on those laws. Last month (22 March 2017), President Aoun shared his disdain towards domestic violence by describing it as a “shameful” act and stated, “It’s important that we amend the law, which did not meet our expectations.” Although he mentioned that he does disapprove of domestic violence occurring in the country, he did not give a practical and applicable solution to the law. Additionally, individuals that suffer from the tendency to be violent owe it to themselves and to society to get the necessary treatment for them to refrain from performing further harmful acts so they can be successfully integrated as moral members of society.
As citizens that have equal rights within a nation of laws, women should expect to have their rights protected. Lebanese society should be educated on the issue of domestic violence and children should learn that such an act is wrong in their upbringing. Only after the law has been truly reformed to protect women and children are taught that domestic violence is frowned upon, can you ensure that your future daughter will be growing up in a safe environment.
We as Lebanese citizens, whether male or female, should all take a stand and fight for our rights because we are the generation that has a say in changing the future. We deserve a better future.
Written by Liana Baba, a WYAME volunteer from the Lebanese American University.