Putting An End To Domestic Violence
Ms. Rita Chemely
According to the United Nations, 7 out of 10 women experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime – the majority by someone they know. Acts of violence against women aged between 15 to 44, cause more deaths and disabilities than cancer, malaria, traffic accidents and war combined.
Despite its magnitude, this issue occupies a marginal space in public agendas around the world and in many places it continues to be considered a domestic – private – problem. This is a problem that affects not only poor and underdeveloped countries, but also the richest nations in the world.
What are the underlying causes of violence against women and what are the main challenges of fighting violence and bringing an end to this horrific practice is what we discussed with Mrs. Rita Chemaly a Lebanese researcher in the field of women’s rights.
1. What do we mean by domestic violence against women and are there different forms of violence?
Domestic violence is an abusive behavior by family members. The violence can take different forms from physical violence to sexual violence, to psychological even financial and economical violence.
2. What groups of women are at higher risk of becoming victims?
background. Domestic violence is an abusive behavior that might happen with everybody, victims are more commonly women in Lebanon.
3. What are the main reasons for domestic violence?
The reasons are numerous, domestic violence is one of the consequences of patriarchal society where, a male is taught to “dominate” the family and the women in the family.
4. What impact does domestic violence have on women and their families?
A horrific impact: when children witness violence, they will normalize it and will replicate it when old. It is well known that when children are witness of violence or are victims of violence, they will learn to believe that this is a normal behavior. Boys who learn that women are not to be valued or respected and who see violence directed against women are more likely to abuse women when they grow up. Girls who witness domestic violence in their families are more likely to be victimized by their own husbands.
5. Less than half of domestic violence incidents are reported to police, if women are in an abusive relationship why don’t they do something about it?
Society and its norms make it extremely difficult for women to speak up to the extent that victims believe that this is normal behavior and are unable to see how they can go out of the nightmare they live in.
6. Prior to the mid-1800s, most legal systems accepted wife beating as a valid exercise of a husband’s authority over his wife. What are the main laws currently in places in Lebanon to protect women from violence and are they enough?
In April 2014 The Lebanese Parliament Members, pushed by Civil Society campaigns, NGOs and especially the last one that accompanied the voting day :no vote, no law” have voted on the Law protecting women and all family members from domestic violence. Since its publication in the official gazette the law 293 is being used by judges in Lebanon to protect women from violence.
7. Do these laws focus on prevention? Or are they simply designed to punish the abusers?
The law aims to criminalize domestic violence and does not really focus on prevention.
8. What role do men play in combating violence against women?
Women play a major role in combating violence. I will quote Ban Ki moon: “Men have a crucial role to play as fathers, brothers, friends, decision makers, and community and opinion leaders, in speaking out against violence against women and girls and ensuring that priority attention is given to the issue. Importantly, men can provide positive role models for young men and boys, based on healthy images of masculinity. “