Tuesday, April 01, 2014

How the "The Law to Protect Women from Family Violence" never came to pass

In quintessential Lebanese style, parliament just passed a law that initially meant to protect women from violence at home but has been modified beyond recognition to what is now known as “The Bill for the Protection of Women and Family Members Against Domestic Violence". The Legal Agenda has done a great job of explaining why this law is in fact insulting to feminists and anyone who appreciates a sense of justice in their society. Here are a few points from their thorough analysis. I highly recommend reading the article in full:

The subcommittee in charge of reviewing the original draft law prepared by the NGO KAFA (Enough) objected that the text of the legislation does not treat all members of the same family equally and discriminates positively for women. Without a shred of irony, they argued that  the draft law "contradicted Article 7 of the Lebanese Constitution enshrining equality of all Lebanese in terms of their rights and obligations." Because we all know that all Lebanese are treated equally under the law, except for some Lebanese (i.e. males) who are treated more equally than others (read civil status law).

It is common knowledge that the subcommittee had removed "marital rape" and "forced marriage" from the text of the original draft. It claimed that only physical violence that can be proven as per the Criminal Law counts. But did you know that the committee just added “marital rights to intercourse” in an explicit text of civil law (Clause 7(a) of Article 3 of the amended draft)? If this draft passes, guess what it means. The Legal Agenda depressingly expalins:

"Not only does the amendment fail to consider marital rape an act of violence, it might actually lead to deeming the infliction of harm by a wife on her husband while fighting off his attempt to rape her an act of violence itself."

In other words, the husband can legally rape his wife, and if she fights back, he can sue her for domestic violence.

To add insult to injury, the committee also included "adultery among the list of crimes that fall under marital violence, thereby allowing the aggrieved husband to seek protective measures under the law." Why? Because equality apparently.

Happy April's Fools everyone. We've all been duped.

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