Lebanon: ensure accountability for gender-based violence – ICJ new report

In a report published today, the ICJ called on the Lebanese authorities to prevent, address and ensure accountability for all forms of gender-based violence (GBV) against women and girls, including by adopting legislative, judicial and other appropriate measures.

The report Gender-based Violence in Lebanon: Inadequate Framework, Ineffective Remedies concludes that the persistence of GBV against women and girls in Lebanon is rooted in entrenched patriarchal norms and cultural stereotypes about the roles and responsibilities of women and men in society prevalent throughout the country, including within the judiciary and among other law enforcement officials.

Moreover, legal frameworks and ineffective procedures for the investigation, prosecution and adjudication of GBV fail to adequately protect women’s rights, the report says.

While steps taken by the Lebanese authorities to remedy some deficiencies in the legal framework are commendable, there is still a long way to go to dismantle the web of legal provisions, including in the Criminal Code, the Nationality Law and Personal Status Laws, which discriminate against women or fail to adequately protect their rights.

“Gender discrimination embedded in family laws and in practices is one root cause of violence against women and girls,” said Roberta Clarke, Chair of the ICJ’s Executive Committee.

“Discrimination and economic dependency act as barriers to women’s access to justice,” she added.

The ICJ is particularly concerned that discriminatory practices and bias against women continue to undermine criminal investigations and prosecutions in GBV cases.

“Lebanon should provide for gender-sensitive investigations and evidence-gathering procedures in order to enable women to report violence against them, and ensure that any case of gender-based violence is prosecuted effectively whenever warranted by the evidence, even where no formal complaint has been lodged or when a complaint is withdrawn,” said Kate Vigneswaran, Senior Legal Adviser for the ICJ’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

Based on an analysis of 30 judicial decisions related to GBV cases and other research, the ICJ found that stereotyping by justice system actors results in direct and indirect discrimination against women.

This, in turn, greatly diminishes the chance that judges granting remedies are both free from biased assumptions and effective, thereby undermining the justice system’s impartiality.

“Judges must decide gender-based violence cases based on the law and facts of the case, rather than pre-conceived cultural beliefs and social stereotypes that are biased against women,” said Said Benarbia, ICJ MENA Director.

“Courts must not use ‘honour,’ ‘fit of fury’ and victim blaming to shield perpetrators of violence against women from accountability,” he added.


Said Benarbia, Director, ICJ Middle East and North Africa Programme, t: +41-22-979-3817; e: said.benarbia@icj.org

Kate Vigneswaran, Senior Legal Adviser, ICJ Middle East and North Africa Programme, t: +31-62-489-4664; e: kate.vigneswaran@icj.org

Additional information

This week, ICJ Commissioner Roberta Clarke led the delegation that met with Lebanese authorities and justice and civil society actors in Beirut to present the ICJ’s report and discuss its findings and recommendations.

The delegation met with Chief Justice Jean Fahed, President of the Lebanese Cassation Court and the High Judicial Council; Mrs. Claudine Aoun Roukoz, President of the National Commission for Lebanese Women; George Fiani, head of the Legal Aid Division of the Beirut Bar Association; representatives of the office of the Prime Minister and the office of the Minister of State for Economic Empowerment of Women and Youth; members of the Internal Security Forces; a member of the National Human Rights Institution; and representatives of civil society and the United Nations.

Lebanon-Gender Violence-Publications (full report, English, in PDF)

Lebanon-Gender Violence-Publications-ARA (full report, Arabic, in PDF)

Lebanon-GBVReport2 launch-News-Press releases-2019-ARA (full story, Arabic, in PDF)

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