BEIRUT: Hundreds of activists marking International Women's Day held a march in Beirut Saturday and called for the adoption of a draft law to protect women from domestic violence.
More than 2,000 men and women took part in the demonstration organized by the anti-gender-based violence group KAFA, marching from Beirut’s Mathaf area to the Justice Palace.
Speaking over a loudspeaker, one of the organizers said that the turnout eclipsed those of previous protests against domestic violence.
Many of the marchers carried banners slamming the unjust treatment of women in the country.
“Shame on the nation that kills its women in the name of honor,” one of the banners read.
“As long as violence is not deemed a disgrace, the laws will remain no more than slogans,” another read.
Among those taking part in the protest was Layla Yaacoub, the mother of the late Roula Yaacoub.
Yaacoub, 31, was found comatose at her home in north Lebanon last July and later died upon arrival at a hospital. Despite a report clearing Yaacoub’s husband of any role in the death, Layla Yaacoub maintains that her daughter was the victim of domestic violence.
The activists called for the just treatment of women, gender equality and granting women the right to pass on their nationality to their children.
The demonstration reflects a growing anger among activists following recent domestic violence related cases that have come to light.
In February, Manal al-Assi, a teacher, died in a Beirut hospital due to injuries she suffered when her husband allegedly beat her repeatedly with a pressure cooker.
Assi’s case and others have prompted fresh criticism of Parliament’s failure to endorse a draft law to at protect women from domestic violence.
The draft law was first submitted to Parliament in 2010. A parliamentary subcommittee began studying the draft 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 also 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.