Monday, September 26, 2011

Rejecting “Violence Against Women”

As part of the Women Political Empowerment (WPE) project that is funded by the Canada Fund, the Lebanese Organization for Studies and Training in collaboration with the Canada Fund organized a seminar entitled “Violence Against Women” delivered by the lawyer and social activist Ms. Manar Zayter at LOST-Baalbeck center on the 24th of September 2011 in the presence of more than 60 women.

Ms. Zayter identified “violence against women as any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.”

Ms Zayter highlighted several legal issues that perpetuate “Violence against Women” in the Lebanese Law. She considered that women's role is acknowledged only in texts; however, in practice women are confined to their biological classical functions. She added that the Lebanese laws threaten women with divorce, homelessness and polygamy. Women are also subjected to the prevention from compensation, children's custody and from inheritance. The laws also encompass different degrees of domestic violence against women. Violence in Lebanon remains without any legal protection and expose women to disgrace in case of disclosure or talk. Such laws still confirm the accessory role of women and allow various forms of moral and physical violence against them. Such unfair discrimination against women clearly appears in the law of divorce and the impacts resulting from it. The consequences of divorce, separation or dissolution of marriage comprise many aspects of injustice towards women. There isn't any measure set forth in such laws to prevent family violence.

Ms. Zayter emphasized that such violations of women’s rights are also clearly shown in the Lebanese Penal Law. She talked about what is called "Crimes of Honor" which demonstrate great discrimination against women. She affirmed that the Lebanese Penal Law still preserves the principle of killing women by family men members and that domestic violence is a major type of violence practiced against women.

“Dignity is indivisible between men and women. And rights are not privileges given to women but they are part of their dignity. So the violence against women is not acceptable under any religious, social or cultural pretext.” Ms. Manar Zayter concluded.

The seminar was followed by a long and interesting debate and finally all participants were invited to a cocktail at Baytna Restaurant in Baalbeck.

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