Feminist activists demand Lebanon rejects rape law
Published Saturday, March 10, 2012
Lebanese activists marched on the capital Beirut on Saturday demanding the government reject a new version of a law which was supposed to outlaw domestic abuse.
A draft of the law released last year made rape within marriage illegal for the first time in Lebanon.
However the law was significantly amended by a parliamentary committee and no longer refers to marital rape of women, instead leaving the definition to individual religious councils.
Over a hundred protesters marched to the Lebanese Parliament to demand that the original bill be reinstated.
Farah Kobaissy, an activist and member of the feminist group Nasawiya, said the march aimed to shed light upon the changes to the law.
“The committee in the parliament has almost finished its work but the result is a terrible law which does not really protect women from domestic violence,” she said.
“We don't want this law if it is going to pass with the amendments the committee have made.”
The number of rapes within marriage in Lebanon is difficult to estimate as they are often unreported. However the Lebanese women's rights organization KAFA says their Beirut center alone sees some 300 cases of marital rape a year.
The initial bill was hailed as a victory for women's rights in Lebanon, but several members of the parliamentary committee were hostile to it.
MP Imad Hout, one of the eight committee members tasked with amending the bill, sparked anger last year when he said "there's nothing called rape between a husband and a wife. It's called forcing someone violently to have intercourse."
The march marked the beginning of a campaign, with other protests planned to increase pressure on political leaders.
“Our action will be increasing. This is one march, and we are planning other steps to take in the coming few weeks,” Kobaissy said.