Parliament Adopts Domestic Violence Law, Activists Criticize itإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
A controversial draft-law on domestic violence was approved by the parliament on Tuesday, although it did not meet the expectations of activists supporting the cause.
The draft-law on the protection of women against domestic violence was one of the 70 items on the agenda of a three-day parliamentary session.
Change and Reform MP Ghassan Moukheiber, who played a key role in lobbying for the law, told Agence France Presse: "It is a big step forward in protecting women, we should be proud."
"We now have a law that provides effective protection for women ...
"It's not the ideal text, but it's a first step," Moukheiber said, while stressing that the law must now be enforced.
Earlier, KAFA, a non-governmental organization that supports non-discrimination, gender equality, and women's rights within the Lebanese society, held a protest near the building of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) in downtown Beirut to press MPs to adopt the draft-law with amendments introduced to it.
The protesters chanted slogans against domestic violence and held banners calling for the non-adoption of a “distorted law.”
But a KAFA spokesperson told TV stations that the NGO was not satisfied with the law.
KAFA was calling for parliament's approval of amendments introduced to it. But MPs adopted the proposed draft-law without changes.
“This is not an achievement for the Lebanese woman because it does not guarantee her full protection,” Maya Ammar, the spokeswoman, said.
Layla Awada, a lawyer from KAFA, called the adoption of the law a “farce.”
Speaker Nabih Berri did not allow any MP to make remarks at the legislative session in collaboration with the lawmakers, she said.
“This is a punishment,” she added.
Awada promised to propose amendments to the law and work on putting it back on parliament's agenda.
Meanwhile, for the NGO's Faten Abu Shakra, who led the campaign, the law "does not specifically focus on women."
She opposed the introduction "by religious men of religious language" into the bill, which fails to specifically refer to marital rape as a crime.
It criminalizes causing "harm", including "beatings" and "threats", to obtain sex, but the term "conjugal right" is used without mention of consent.
Moukheiber said the term aimed to appease Lebanon's powerful clerics, who had been opposed to the bill outright.
According to Rothna Begum of Human Rights Watch, the law is "a positive step forward in ensuring protection for women from domestic violence."
She told AFP: "It includes positive steps such as providing for restraining orders against abusers; temporary accommodation for the survivors of abuse."
The law also "assigns a public prosecutor in each of Lebanon's six governorates to receive complaints and investigate cases of violence; and establishes specialized family violence units within Lebanon's domestic police to process complaints."
But "parliament should seek to urgently reform this new law if it is to ensure women full protection from domestic violence including criminalizing marital rape."
The law passed after a KAFA-led campaign which saw thousands of demonstrators take to the streets of Beirut on March 8, International Women's Day.
Several Lebanese women have been killed in recent domestic violence cases which have led to a large-scale condemnation on social media.
The Lebanese Forces parliamentary bloc later issued a statement voicing some reservations over the approval of the draft-law, suggesting the inclusion of a few amendments.
It said that the name of the law should be stated as the protection of women from domestic violence, seeing as the draft-law was initially written with the goal of protecting women.
“Any change in the title would make it seem as the law was aimed at protecting the family from domestic violence, which consequently ignores the bitter reality” that women are facing, it remarked in a statement.
In addition, it said that women subject to domestic violence should be able to resort to the General Prosecution or police stations should they seek to report a case.
The General Prosecution is the quickest and least costly resort for the women, explained the LF bloc.
It also addressed the case of marital rape, stressing the need to designate such incidents as crimes, not giving them legal descriptions that apply to laws on beatings and threats.
It therefore demanded the rephrasing of the draft-law's article on cases of marital rape.
The bloc rejected the use of “the term 'fulfilling marital sexual rights' because obtaining such rights through violence, threats, or deception is a form of rape and a violation of human dignity.”
It criticized how the draft-law did not explicitly mention marital rape, saying that the current phrasing “only emphasizes such acts and justifies violence in marriage.”