Lebanon: Legalizing the protection against family violence

KAFA (Enough)
Legalizing the Protection Against Family Violence” was the title of a regional meeting that was organized by KAFA (enough) Violence & Exploitation-Lebanon, of 20 NGO activists from 11 Arab countries and representatives of national and international NGOs.
The meeting was held on the 22nd and 23rd of June 2006 in Beirut, and aimed at discussing the necessity of establishing a law on domestic violence, which until now, does not exist in any Arab country.
At the end of the meeting, the covenants issued the following final statement:

Arab societies are still dominated by patriarchal authoritative systems that give privileges to male dominance over all aspects of life.

The national constitutions of all Arab countries state that women and men are considered equal in front of the law. In spite of that, none of the countries are working to attain this equality. None of the states have abided by the international human right treaties that they have signed, especially the CEDAW convention. Besides, the vast majority put reservations on this treaty, while some did not sign it yet.

Women in Arab countries are still suffering from violations to their basic human rights, especially from acts of violence perpetrated on them which, in some cases, lead to their death.

Until now, the vast majority of Arab countries did not take any measure to confront these acts of violence. Instead, some of these acts are legalized or even considered as “holistic”, especially those inflicted, directly or indirectly, by the personal status codes. Women “femicide” under the pretext of “honor crimes” are flagrant examples.

Arab governments are still captured by the traditional culture which consider the family as a private property of men, giving them the privilege of being the “head of the family’ and wide space of freedom to violate the basic human rights of family members, including women and children. Under the pretext of “home privacy”, or “intimate relationship”, governments remain standstill towards any human right violation of the family members.

In consideration of all the above, the participants in the regional meeting agreed on:
  1. Calling upon all government who signed and ratified the international human rights treaties, including the CEDAW and its optional protocols, to lift the reservations on the CEDAW and act to amend their national laws according to those treaties.
  2. Calling upon all governments to confront the multi faceted forms of violence against women, especially those that take place within the family. VAW is one of the main obstacles that deprive women from attaining their basic human rights, and one of the flagrant violations to those rights.
  3. Confronting violence against women necessitates from the governments their acknowledgment of its existence as a societal problem that hinders the development process. Consequently, it is a necessity to reconsider the legislative system in each Arab country, to ensure that the law plays a preventive role against acts of violence against women within the family.
  4. Calling upon governments to set special legislations for protecting women against family violence, due to the fact that domestic violence against women is the most widespread form of violence against women, while at the same time it is still privatized and kept within family boundaries.
  5. Enhancing the work on both the regional and local levels in order to establish special legislations on family violence, and continuing the coordination among each other, until this special law is adopted by the Arab governments.
  6. Calling upon civil society organizations and official entities to help in elaborating a special legislation on family violence that would fulfill the ambitions and hopes of women in Arab countries.