Lebanon: Launching of the Silent Witness project in Lebanon

KAFA,”Enough Violence and Exploitation" organization chose the 8th of March, 2006, for launching the Silent Witness project in Lebanon. On this date thirty silhouettes were displayed in the UNESCO Palace in Beirut.
Each silhouette carried the story of a woman who was killed by the hand of a family member in Lebanon, and the date she was killed. All of the silhouettes were given a name.
One of the silhouettes carried the actual name of the victim; her daughter, who witnessed the crime when she was eight years old, gave her testimony during the event. One of the silhouettes was left blank, to be the story of any woman who has been or will be the victim of family violence in Lebanon.

Not all women were killed by their husbands; some were killed by their relatives, like brothers or fathers or even sisters and mothers. In a significant proportion of these crimes the excuse of the offenders was that they had "doubts about her behavior". In this context the slogan for the event was "Because killing women is a shame...", alluding to the term "honor killing", often used to describe this type of crime in the culture of the region.

Mrs. Zoya Rouhana, KAFA's Director, explained that the aim of the project is to raise awareness and advocate the adoption of a law on domestic violence in Lebanon. The event was under the patronage of the Minister of Social Affairs, Mrs. Nayla Moawad. The keynote speakers at the event were the most senior women's right's advocate in Lebanon, Mrs. Linda Matar, as well as the judge Iskandar Fayyad, who highlighted the necessity of drafting a law on domestic violence. Women and children survivors of domestic violence shared poems they had written based on their experiences with violence. The poem "I got flowers today", written by Paulette Kully, had been translated into Arabic, put on a large banner and was read by a survivor.

A very mixed audience amounting to over 250 people was present at the event. The launching of Silent Witness was well received in national and Arab media. Media interest continues, as KAFA has been approached by several TV and radio channels, as well as newspapers who wish to follow the project.

The project continues with the Silhouettes touring around the country. The first exhibit after the UNESCO palace is at Kaslik University.

The 8th of March 2006, was also the first anniversary of KAFA. White and purple flowers, the colors in KAFA's logo, were distributed to all participants.