Stand up against sexual violence in Lebanon

Let’s call things as they are. Lebanese society, as it 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!

Why You Should Stand Against Sexual Violence

Why You Should Stand Against Sexual Violence

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 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:

I will be there, will you?




Filed under life in Lebanon

10 responses to “Stand up against sexual violence in Lebanon

  1. Martin

    Hello youssef, i am german and i visited my friend in Lebanon last year and i just loved it, quite honestly i found it to be a very liberal and open minded country i am schoked to hear that such things could even exist in a such place :S!….. and btw it was the end of march and we did go skiing while it was 25 degrees! such an experience…. anyway i hope that some day this country would solve it’s issues before it’s too late, it’s a shame really! such a beautiful country with a lot to offer…. may god be with you! although i do think that the gods are the reason for your misery if you know what i mean ;)…. cheerio! keep up the good work man

    • Martin,
      Thanks for your comment. I am pleased to know that you loved your visit. To be honest, this is the kind of stuff tourists or even most Lebanese would not notice happening. But whether it is Lebanon, any other Middle Eastern country, a European country, the US or whatever… this kind of stuff happens, everywhere. I’ve heard stories in certain US states that made my head turn. It’s a shame regardless. And whether this was something that was prevalent or marginal, it should not happen and concrete actions need to be taken to stop it.

  2. Ali

    To most this is emotional, cultural, and personal subject which makes it completely hard to stay objective.

    • Amy G

      No, rape is a pretty objectively horrible thing. There’s nothing subjective about it.

    • just because something is “cultural” doesn’t mean that it is ok. Rape is NEVER acceptable, inside or outside of marriage. It is an act of violence, period…looking at rape should never be seen as objective, seen that way you’re just as culpable as the perp.

    • Ali

      For the most part of this blog I think we – Youssef and Mallydobb – agree. But when it comes to what is called “marital rape” we don’t. Nasawiya, the feminist group, with or without knowing, really care less about family stability and more about creating a system that feeds off the conflicts. Because men are considered more aggressive, they are at a disadvantage when proving that it was not “marital rape”. It is difficult to prove that it was a consensual sex. Should we call a lawyer and sign papers between a husband and a wife at the middle of every night before having sex. Tonight was consenual but last night was not. Who is to enforce such a new law. How and where can we draw lines between a husband and wife when it comes to consenual sex, rape, or adultry. I think we are just opening the door for more controversy. Believe it or not, by law and still in effect, women in France are still banned from wearing pants. The law states that a woman in Paris who wants to wear pants, must go to Paris’s main police station to obtain authorization. Also, in Michigan USA, Women are not allowed, by state law, to cut their hair without husband permission. My point is law is not the answer when it comes to husband and wife. A new law re this matter is going to be like the above 2 laws, not used. This is more emotional relationship and needs different levels of integrity and values.

  3. John

    This is very worthwhile and necessary cause. The laws of the State should be changed to protect women from violence and abuse. Rape is an act of violence, inflicted by one person on another, and should not be tolerated. My God, we are supposed to be living in the 21st Century, and Lebanon is supposed to be the shining star of the Arab World. Wake up, people.

  4. everything you said is so sad but again so true.. so many lebanese family will do anything not to tarnish there reputation, even if making one of there kid a victim. so sad… i would love to be in the march but sadly im in sydney.

  5. Théo

    It’s nice to know that at least some people are aware of what is happening in Lebanon. Revolution starts like this, bringing awareness. You have all my support Youssef.

  6. Realistically, laws would not change behavior much over night. It’s a start though, as it’s a clear sign from some “authority” – as opposed to many “mixed” ones from politicans in the recent past.

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