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 fails to change key issues in Lebanese law, including the definition of rape, which explicitly excludes forced sex in marriage, and the rape of a virgin by means of deception is potentially subject only to a fine. If a rapist marries his victim following the crime, the law exonerates him.
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.”
On August 4, 2011, parliament annulled Article 562 of the criminal code, which mitigated the sentence of people who claim they killed or injured their wife, daughter, or other relative to protect their family’s “honor.”
However, according to Lebanese law, a married woman who has an extramarital affair can be imprisoned from three months to two years, whereas the punishment for the same crime for a man is one month to one year.
A married man can only be tried for adultery if he engages in extramarital sex in the conjugal home, or if he has a “stable” extramarital relationship.
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.
Several Lebanese women have been killed in recent domestic violence cases which have led to a large-scale condemnation on social media.
Lebanon is a country deemed more liberal than other Arab societies, but is still very patriarchal.
The bill has faced fierce resistance by Lebanon’s Muslim religious authorities, in a country where there is no unified civil law on personal status.
Naharnet / Now Lebanon
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