World Now

News from around the world

« Previous Post | World Now Home | Next Post »

Lebanese rally against rape, sexual violence

January 14, 2012 |  1:58 pm

Beirut
REPORTING FROM BEIRUT-- Hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets of the Lebanese capital Saturday demanding that the government introduce legislation that would criminalize marital rape and all forms of sexual violence.

Demonstrators gathered outside the Interior Ministry and marched through the rainy streets of Beirut to the nearby parliament.

"Marital rape is void, discrimination is void," women and men in the crowd shouted. Rally-goers carried banners saying, "We want laws that protect women from all sorts of sexual violence."

Under Lebanese law, spousal rape is not considered a crime, and neither is domestic violence.  Moreover, the Lebanese criminal code stipulates that if a man rapes a woman, his sentence will be annulled if he agrees to marry her. 

Maya Helou, rallying the crowd from her megaphone, said the time has come for the "patriarchal, backward laws" to go. Another demonstrator, a young man in his 20s, said he had "come today because rape is rape, whether marital rape or rape in the streets."


On the Facebook site advertising the march, the women's rights group Nasawiya listed a number of demands for the Lebanese parliament, including increasing "punitive measures" against rapists, handling complaints related to sexual violence with "rigor and consistency" and passing a draft law outlawing sexual and domestic violence.

The Lebanese women's rights group KAFA has reportedly been working on draft legislation with parliament that criminalize all types of domestic abuse. The bill is reportedly in the hands of a parliamentary subcommittee that is reviewing and debating the text.

But the proposed law has come under fire from some religious groups, and clashes have erupted between women’s rights advocates and lawmakers over wording in the bill. KAFA has been pushing for the law to specifically criminalize spousal rape, terminology that hasn't gone down well with some of the lawmakers, including Imad Hout, a member of the parliamentary subcommittee.

In an interview with Lebanon's English-language newspaper the Daily Star in December, he said the term had been scrapped from the original draft and argued that marital rape doesn't exist.

"There’s nothing called rape between a husband and a wife," he said. "It's called forcing someone violently to have intercourse." 

Ali Fakhri, a 25-year-old member of Nasawiya, said he hoped the march would attract the attention of lawmakers.

"Hundreds of us are out marching under the rain today, " he said. "They will take us seriously."

MORE:

Passengers tell of pandemonium aboard cruise ship off Italy

Bombing kills scores of Shiite pilgrims in southern Iraq

Taiwanese president wins reelection, vows closer ties to China

--Alexandra Sandels 

Photo: Activists carry banners during a protest against sexual violence in Beirut on Saturday. Credit: Wael Hamzeh/European Pressphoto Agency

 

 

Comments 

Advertisement










Video