BEIRUT: MP Strida Geagea urged lawmakers to endorse a draft law to protect women from domestic violence Friday, a day ahead of International Women's Day.
“As a woman in the Lebanese Parliament, I regret this setback the country is witnessing at the level of women’s rights,” the Lebanese Forces MP said in a statement.
"Lebanon was a pioneer in granting women the right to vote in the fifties, but we are now declining in our yearly ranking when it comes to respecting the rights of women and protecting them from domestic violence.”
“At this occasion, I call for approving the domestic violence draft law as soon as possible,” said Geagea.
The draft law to protect women from domestic violence was first submitted to the Parliament in 2010, and a parliamentary subcommittee began studying it in May 2011 and finalized its amendments in August 2012.
The amendments altered the title of the text, which now refers to violence against the family, as opposed to women specifically. A key clause criminalizing marital rape was removed by the committee after it sparked a backlash from religious figures and some politicians.
Of the 128-member Parliament, 43 supported the draft law in 2012, mostly from the Lebanese Forces, the Free Patriotic Movement, the Future Movement and the Kataeb Party.
Meanwhile, Shiite Scholar Sayyed Ali Fadlallah on Thursday called for the creation of a specialized police unit to deal with domestic violence, adding that special courts are needed to deal with marital problems.
Fadlallah also voiced support for any law protecting women from violence, as long as it preserves “a balance between protection of women and family life.”
Lebanon has recently witnessed several high profile cases of husbands allegedly beating their wives to death, provoking calls for laws that protect women from domestic violence.