After decades of advocacy by the Lebanese women’s movement to abolish the provision of the so-called “honor killing” from the Lebanese law, the Lebanese Parliament voted, on the 4th of August 2011, for the removal of Article 562 from it penal code.
Article 562 allowed for a person to benefit from mitigating excuses in the event that this person surprise
s his/her spouse, sister, or any relative in the act of adultery or unlawful copulation and proceeds to kill or injure one or both of the participants without prior intent. While this is a step forward in the acknowledgement that such crimes are not to be accepted, much remains to be done on the societal level to change the patriarchal mentality that still puts women under the guardianship of the male family members.
Cases of Femicide before the Lebanese Courts
In an attempt to shed the light on the problem of killing of women in Lebanon, KAFA (enough) Violence & Exploitation realized and recently published the English version of its study of Cases of Femicide before the Lebanese Courts conducted by Dr. Azza Chararah Beydoun.
The study analyzes from a gender perspective written documents of 66 trial proceedings of femicide cases committed between 1978 and 2004 in all Lebanese districts. It shows that the murders committed represent the tip of the iceberg of pervasive and ongoing family violence against women.
The trial proceedings provide an exceptional lens for viewing the horror prevailing in the families where one or more of its male members resorted to fatal violence against a female member. A salient finding of this research study is that the gender order within these families had been disrupted, rendering the power relation between the female victim and the defendant "abnormal" by patriarchal standards. It is shown that the killer was as much responsible for the mentioned disruption as the victim: both failed to live up to the expectations of the prescribed roles and proscribed behaviors within the patriarchal gender order; for as much as the female victim was “deviant” from the norm, the defendant was equally a “deficient man”.
The study provides research-based rationale for calling upon the State, and its legal, security and social institutions, to safeguard women’s right to welfare and security. It urges policy makers to adopt the proposed law formulated by KAFA and the “National Coalition for the Legislation of Protection of Women from Family Violence”, which would make the State exclusive responsibility for all its citizens, eradicating the basis for ‘private justice’ inherent within cases of Femicide in our communities. The law to protect women from Family Violence is a protective and punitive instrument designed to: protect the privacy of the individuals involved, provide a restraining order against the abuser, require the abuser to provide financial and medical assistance to the victim and her children, and oblige any witness of family violence to report it. The law would also create a special unit within the police to respond to cases of family violence.