By Brandon Kaufman
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East
BEIRUT, Lebanon-According to Amal Ftoumi, media coordinator with the Lebanese Council to Resist Violence Against Women (LCRVAW), women in Lebanon find themselves largely unprotected from domestic violence. In fact, some studies estimate that up to ninety percent of women in Lebanon are subject to some form of violence. Ftoumi fears that few of the women dare to speak up even though they may be facing serious situations of physical abuse.
Ftoumi notes that the hurdles facing women who seek help against violence are enormous. As she has said, “Society does not approve of women complaining about their husbands. It is a woman’s job to be there for her husband, which makes it very difficult for women to stand up to abuse.” Furthermore, many feel that a woman’s chances of receiving fair treatment in a court case are very remote. Under Lebanese law, domestic violence cases are to be dealt with by one of the country’s religious courts. Nonetheless, as Ftoumi contends, most, if not all of the country’s courts, rule in favor of men.
According to Zoya Rouhana, the director of an organization that stands against the exploitation of women, “Domestic law is treated in the same way as violence on the street. It does not take into consideration that the woman has to go back to the one who attacked her in the first place.” In addition, Rouhana notes that many women are afraid to take their case to court out of fear that they will lose their children. It is fairly common that Lebanese courts give custody of the children to the husband. To counteract this, Rouhana says that many women choose to keep silent about the violence even if that means enduring life with their abusive husbands.
On December 2, the Lebanese Parliament is scheduled to hold a session and discuss the possibility of creating a special court to deal with cases of domestic violence. Additionally, another fundamental change being sought by the parliament is the specific naming of domestic violence as a crime in Lebanese law.
For more information, please see:
Daily Times- Day for End to Violence Against Women Marked– 25 November 2009
The Daily Star- Drive to Protect Women Picks Up Momentum– 25 November 2009
The Daily Star- Lebanese Women Bereft of Protection– 25 November 2009