Let’s call things as they are. Lebanese society, as it is..is currently condoning acts of slavery. I am not talking about foreign workers in Lebanon (although that’s a whole separate issue on it’s own). What I’m talking about is women..Lebanese women..who are being forced into the sex trade, sex trafficking, forced prostitution, or simply (but worst of all)..slavery.
When a country operates on archaic laws that allow young girls (of ages as young as 12 and 13) to be ‘given away‘ to middle aged men for ‘marriage‘, there is no way to describe this phenomenon other than with the term SLAVERY. Not only is the girl forced into a marriage without her consent, the man (husband) is also protected BY LAW if he wishes to force himself on her in any way he pleases, including sexually. And whatever actions aren’t protected by the law, are kept under wraps by Lebanese society and its desire to maintain a certain image, at all costs.
Instead of confronting the situation in order to correct this disgusting behavior, Lebanese society turns a blind eye.. (“Lebanon is the greatest country on Earth! You can go to the beach and go skiing in the same day!“) What does this mean? This means that marital rape is legal. Let’s be clear about this. The fact that you are married to another person does by no means give you ‘carte blanche’ to do whatever you please to them. Some wedding vows might including the clause “fulfilling marital duties“, but that only signifies that each party involved in the marriage has the right and responsibility to carry out said duties, not, by any means, does it give license to any of the parties to force the other to comply. If a woman refuses to sexually please her husband, such vows give permission to END THE MARRIAGE, NOT TO ENGAGE IN MARITAL RAPE!
Unfortunately, it does not end here. A Lebanese woman, if she ever gets raped, will not only be met with silence (and shame) by society,..but in some cases, she will then be forced into marriage to her rapist (If she isn’t already married to him)! (You know, since when a woman loses her virginity she becomes ‘damaged goods’ unless she marries the person she lost her virginity to!) Even the proposal of marriage by the rapist can reduce the possible sentence to a year, and marriage would acquit him completely. (How this happens..how parents of young women allow this to happen,,is beyond me. But there are those that will do whatever necessary not to tarnish their name/reputation. Even if it means giving their daughter away to a rapist).
As Lebanese people, we have a moral duty have to do something about this. The first step is always awareness. As you can imagine, We need to raise our voice in support of our mothers and sisters. Let them know we are by their side. Show that no reputation or societal image is going to prevent us from showing things for what they are. Join the march to fight rape on January 14th 2012 at 12pm in front of the Ministry of Interior near Sanayeh.
The march is being hosted by Nasawiya, a feminist collective comprised of women and men who are working together to challenge all forms of gender oppression in Lebanon and the Arab world. For more information about the march please visit the facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/283385688373672/.
I will be there, will you?