Campaign to amend penalty for sexual assault crimes in Lebanon

A recent ABAAD national survey showed that over half of women who were sexually assaulted in Lebanon did not report the crime. (Reuters/File Photo)
A recent ABAAD national survey showed that over half of women who were sexually assaulted in Lebanon did not report the crime. (Reuters/File Photo)
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Updated 25 November 2022

Campaign to amend penalty for sexual assault crimes in Lebanon

Campaign to amend penalty for sexual assault crimes in Lebanon
  • Security forces: Average of six reported sexual assaults per month

BEIRUT: On Friday, ABAAD launched a campaign to demand the amendment of Chapter Seven of the Lebanese Penal Code, on sexual assault crimes, calling on implementing stricter penalties for such crimes.

ABAAD Resource Center for Gender Equality is a UN ECOSOC-accredited organization that aims to achieve gender equality as an essential condition for sustainable social and economic development in the MENA region.

The campaign coincides with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, Nov. 25. The UN Commission for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women is launching a 16-day campaign to combat gender-based violence. Some Lebanese parties and trade unions, such as the Free Patriotic Movement, the Lebanese Kataeb Party, and the National Federation of Worker and Employee Trade Unions, responded to this UN call by holding meetings on Friday.

A recent ABAAD national survey showed that over half of women who were sexually assaulted in Lebanon did not report the crime due to considerations relating to dignity and honor.

A survivor of sexual assault who shared her experience with ABAAD said: “I was raped, and discovered I was pregnant five months after the crime. My family forbid me to report the perpetrator because they feared what people would say, and my brother threatened to kill me. I was in a deep state of shock, and was very affected psychologically, experiencing constant fear, anxiety, and wanting to isolate.”

The survey stated: “Six out of ten women who were sexually assaulted in Lebanon did not report the crime due to considerations relating to dignity and honor. While 75 percent of women considered sexual assault primarily a physical and psychological assault on women, 71 percent stated that the society considers it an attack on the family’s honor.”

According to the Security Forces’ figures, 57 cases of sexual assault were reported between January 2022 and October 2022 in Lebanon; 20 cases of rape and 37 cases of sexual harassment; an average of six cases per month.

ABAAD’s main message is that sexual assault is a crime worthy of a serious sentence to achieve justice for survivors first and foremost and to protect women and girls from sexual assault crimes.

The organization’s national survey included 1,800 women and girls residing in Lebanon (1,200 Lebanese, 400 Syrian, 200 Palestinian), whose ages ranged between 18 and 50 years, of different walks of life, living in various Lebanese regions.

Ghida Anani, Director of ABAAD, said: “We have already begun coordinating with all relevant parliamentarian blocs in the Lebanese Parliament to submit the proposed legal amendments of Chapter Seven of the Lebanese Penal Code. We count on the legislature in Lebanon to approve the proposed amendments and provide every survivor and victim of those crimes the justice they deserve.”

According to the survey, six out of ten women who have been sexually assaulted did not report it due to dignity and honor, and five out of ten women who were sexually assaulted did not report it because their families refused to do so due to dignity and honor.

It seemed remarkable that the behavior of women changed in reporting, as it differed between those who were sexually assaulted and those who were not subjected to sexual assault.

Women who were not subjected to sexual violence confirmed, at a very high rate (84 percent), that they would report such an assault. However, paradoxically, this percentage decreased significantly (55 percent) for women who were sexually assaulted, under the pressure of dignity and honor.

One of the testimonies read: “I was raped. I did not report it to the security forces because I did not have legal papers. I have been a refugee in Lebanon for years, and I was afraid that I would be arrested. I did not tell anyone about the crime, and what torments me most today is that the perpetrator was not punished.”

Four out of ten women who were sexually assaulted did not report the assault because no one would believe them. In contrast, two others did not report it because they do not trust that any action would be taken against the perpetrator.

Articles 503 and 504 of the Lebanese Penal Code define the crime of rape as the coercion by violence, threats, deception, or abuse of a mental or physical impairment, of any person other than one's spouse into sexual intercourse, and lay down the punishment for this offense.

“Sixty percent of the participants in the study supported increasing the penal sentences to life imprisonment for perpetrators of sexual violence, indecent acts, and threats, while 56 percent of the participants in the study considered that current sentences against perpetrators of sexual violence, indecent acts, and threats are unfair and are in favor of increasing them to life imprisonment,” the survey noted.

Organizations have previously worked on abolishing Article 522 of the Lebanese Penal Code, which exempts a rapist from punishment if he marries the victim.

The Gender Working Group (GWG), the Gender-Based Violence Working Group (GBV WG), and the National Commission for Lebanese Women (NCLW) have stated: “Violence against women and girls remains the most widespread and pervasive human rights violation worldwide affecting more than an estimated one in three women; a figure that has remained largely unchanged over the last decade. The most recent global estimates show that, on average, a woman or girl is killed by someone in her own family every 11 minutes.”

In this context, Joanna Wronecka, the UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, said: “The 16 days of activism are a reminder that we should not be silent to such a violation of women’s basic right to live in dignity, free from violence and fear. Lebanon’s recovery and building a better future for the country and its citizens depends to a large extent on empowering women and giving them the space to enjoy their full rights as active partners in society. The UN stands ready to support Lebanon in this process.”

The campaign, which will run for 16 days, from Nov. 25 to Dec. 10, consists of a social media campaign with the #16days and #سوا_ضد_العنف hashtags. It will also include a video and a series of social media posts calling for everyone’s commitment to protecting women and girls.


At least 20 escape Syria prison holding Daesh inmates after quake

At least 20 escape Syria prison holding Daesh inmates after quake
Updated 10 sec ago

At least 20 escape Syria prison holding Daesh inmates after quake

At least 20 escape Syria prison holding Daesh inmates after quake
  • The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor said it could not verify whether prisoners had escaped, but confirmed there was a mutiny

AZAZ: Prisoners mutinied in a northwestern Syria prison Monday following a deadly earthquake, with at least 20 escaping the jail holding mostly Daesh group members, a source at the facility told AFP.
The military police prison in the town of Rajo near the Turkish border holds about 2,000 inmates, with about 1,300 of them suspected to be Daesh fighters, said the source.
The prison also holds fighters from Kurdish-led forces.
“After the earthquake struck, Rajo was affected and inmates started to mutiny and took control of parts of the prison,” said the official at Rajo jail, which is controlled by pro-Turkish factions.
“About 20 prisoners fled... who are believed to be Daesh militants.”
The 7.8-magnitude quake — which was followed by dozens of aftershocks in the region — caused damage to the prison, with walls and doors cracking, the source added.
The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor said it could not verify whether prisoners had escaped, but confirmed there was a mutiny.
At least 1,444 people died Monday across Syria after the devastating earthquake that had its epicenter in southwestern Turkiye, the government and rescuers said.
In rebel-held parts of the country’s northwest, at least 733 people were killed and more than 2,100 injured, according to the White Helmets rescue group.
The incident in Rajo comes on the heels of an Daesh attack in December on a security complex in their former de facto Syrian capital of Raqqa, which aimed to free fellow terrorists from a prison there.
Six members of the Kurdish-led security forces that control the area were killed in the foiled assault.
The conflict in Syria started in 2011 with the brutal repression of peaceful protests and escalated to pull in foreign powers and global jihadists.
Nearly half a million people have been killed, and the conflict has forced around half of the country’s pre-war population from their homes, with many seeking refuge in Turkiye.

 


Frenchman held in Iran starts new hunger strike: sister

Frenchman held in Iran starts new hunger strike: sister
Updated 47 min 36 sec ago

Frenchman held in Iran starts new hunger strike: sister

Frenchman held in Iran starts new hunger strike: sister
  • Philippe Valent, Briere’s France-based lawyer, called the espionage charges against him “fiction” and his trial “a parody staged by the Revolutionary Guards,” the branch of the Iranian security forces entrusted with the preservation of the regime

PARIS: Benjamin Briere, a French national held in Iran, has gone on hunger strike for the second time since his incarceration in May 2020, his sister and his lawyer said Monday.
Briere, who was sentenced to eight years in jail for espionage, is one of seven French and more than two dozen foreign nationals who campaigners say Iran has jailed in a strategy of hostage-taking to extract concessions from the West.
Held in the prison of Vakilabad in the eastern city of Mashhad, he had already gone on hunger strike once before, at the end of December 2021.
“It’s the only weapon he has,” his sister Blandine Briere said in a statement.
He stopped eating on January 28, she said.
Philippe Valent, Briere’s France-based lawyer, called the espionage charges against him “fiction” and his trial “a parody staged by the Revolutionary Guards,” the branch of the Iranian security forces entrusted with the preservation of the regime.
Briere, the lawyer said, is “mentally and physically exhausted” in the “gloomy” prison which he said was known for frequent “extra-judicial executions” of inmates.
Majidreza Rahnavard, 23, the second of four people executed over the protests, was held in Mashhad and hanged in public in the city on December 12.
The conditions of Briere’s incarceration were “exceptionally harsh,” and he was being denied his rights, Valent said.
Iran needed to be held accountable for the danger to Briere’s “physical and mental wellbeing,” the lawyer said.
Another detainee in Iran, 64-year-old Franco-Irish citizen Bernard Phelan held since October 1, last month suspended a hunger strike that included refusing water, at the request of his family who feared for his life.
Phelan, a Paris-based travel consultant was arrested while traveling and is being held in Mashhad in northeastern Iran.
Iran accuses him of anti-government propaganda, a charge he has denied.
 

 


Jordan Gaming Lab hosts video game development events across the country

Jordan Gaming Lab hosts video game development events across the country
Updated 07 February 2023

Jordan Gaming Lab hosts video game development events across the country

Jordan Gaming Lab hosts video game development events across the country
  • Participants in the two-day Global Game Jam were tasked with designing a video game based on a theme revealed during the opening ceremony

AMMAN: The Jordan Gaming Lab, a project developed by the King Abdullah II Fund for Development, hosted a free, video game development event at several locations across the country. The two-day Global Game Jam took place over the weekend at the lab’s branches in Amman, Zarqa and Aqaba.

The participants were tasked with creating a video game based on a theme that was revealed during the opening ceremony for the event. Sixteen games were produced and uploaded to the GGJ website.

The aim of the challenge was to provide participants with hands-on experience of working with advanced technologies, while taking advantage of help and advice from professional game designers from around the world.

The Jordan Gaming Lab was launched in 2011 to help boost the country’s video game industry and provide networking opportunities for those interested in being a part of it.

 


Dubai aims for complete switch to eco-friendly taxis by 2027

Dubai aims for complete switch to eco-friendly taxis by 2027
Updated 07 February 2023

Dubai aims for complete switch to eco-friendly taxis by 2027

Dubai aims for complete switch to eco-friendly taxis by 2027
  • By the end of the 5-year plan, the entire taxi fleet will comprise hybrid electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles
  • The plan is in line with the goal of the Roads and Transport Authority to ensure public transportation is emissions-free by 2050

DUBAI: Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority has endorsed a plan to make all taxis in the emirate environmentally friendly by 2027.

Under the five-year plan, the entire taxi fleet will complete the switch to fully hybrid electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles, the Emirates News Agency reported on Monday. This is in line with the authority’s goal of ensuring that public transportation is emissions-free by 2050. The RTA has already replaced 72 percent of Dubai taxis with hybrid vehicles.

“The results of experiments on eco-friendly vehicles, which RTA started trialing in 2008, confirmed the environmental benefits of reducing carbon emissions, fuel consumption and maintenance costs, as well as decreasing noise levels,” the authority’s director-general, Mattar Al-Tayer, said.

“Hybrid vehicles also have a longer lifespan compared with regular vehicles and cost less in the long run. They are characterized by lower purchase prices, maintenance fees, fuel expenses, insurance premiums, and other associated costs that potentially could be as low as 50 percent of regular vehicles.”

The initial phase of the plan, in which 50 percent of Dubai’s taxi fleet was converted to eco-friendly vehicles, succeeded in reducing carbon emissions by up to 420,000 tons a year, the Emirates News Agency said.

 


Saudi authorities arrest four found in possession of more than 63,000 amphetamine tablets

Saudi authorities arrest four found in possession of more than 63,000 amphetamine tablets
Updated 06 February 2023

Saudi authorities arrest four found in possession of more than 63,000 amphetamine tablets

Saudi authorities arrest four found in possession of more than 63,000 amphetamine tablets
  • Four have been referred to the Public Prosecution

RIYADH: The Kingdom’s General Directorate of Narcotics Control arrested four citizens found in possession of 63,443 amphetamine pills in the Eastern Region, Saudi Press Agency reported on Monday. 

The pills had an estimated street value ranging from $630,000 to $1.8 million, according to figures published in the International Addiction Review journal.

The four have been referred to the Public Prosecution.