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Lebanon News

Man who assaulted wife detained in first victory for family law

File - Women protesters carry banners in Arabic that read “the law equals my voice," as they call for the adoption of the law protecting women from domestic violence near the Parliament in Beirut, Tuesday, April 1, 2014. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)

BEIRUT: A husband who had been abusing his wife for over a year was detained Friday, the first time the law against family violence was enforced.

Public Prosecutor Bilal Dennawi ordered the detention of a man, whose identity remains unknown, for 48 hours after an investigation showed that he had been abusing his wife. The order for the arrest was issued in line with the recently passed controversial law to protect women against domestic violence.

The man has also been ordered to pay his wife’s medical examination fee and return the couple’s 7-month-old daughter to the victim, in accordance with Article 11 of the law.

KAFA, a women’s rights organization, reported that the couple’s neighbors called the Internal Security Forces emergency hotline Friday after witnessing Rima – an alias used by the organization – being physically abused by her husband.

A patrol responded to the emergency call and transported Rima to the police station in Beirut’s Gemmayzeh, where her case was subsequently investigated in the presence of a social worker from KAFA, a first since the law was passed by Parliament in April.

The draft law to protect women from domestic violence was first submitted to Parliament in 2010, and a parliamentary subcommittee began studying it in May 2011, eventually finalizing its amendments in August 2012.

The alterations included a new title for the bill, which now refers to violence against the family as opposed to violence against women, and the removal of a key clause criminalizing marital rape, after it sparked a backlash from religious figures and some politicians.

After the law was passed, KAFA protested and claimed that the amendments weakened the bill.

According to the investigation, Rima, 24, has been married for a year and a half, and has spent most of that time locked inside the house, while being verbally and physically abused by her husband.

Her identification papers had also been kept from her, and she had been able to bring them with her to the police station.

Present at the investigation were Rima’s husband and his family, who tried to convince her to withdraw her complaint. According to KAFACommunications Officer Maya Ammar, Rima had been tempted to do so, but refused after receiving support from both the prosecutor and the organization.

“She told him she wanted to teach him a lesson,” Ammar told The Daily Star.

Following the investigation, prosecutor Dennawi issued a decision to detain Rima’s husband, return the child to her, and send the mother and child home.

Medical examinations showed that Rima had been severely beaten over the head and on other parts of her body, KAFA reported.

Ammar stressed that the medical examiner did not let the husband get away with his actions nor manipulate the report, a phenomenon not unusual in cases of domestic violence in Lebanon.

In fact, it was the first time the case received such quick responses from the ISF and the law, she noted.

Rima’s husband can only be detained for 48 hours according to the new law, and she will file for a protection order next week. She will also file for his detention to be extended for another two days.

A lengthy protection order can only be issued by the judge of urgent matters, who is not available to hear cases for 24 hours a day, meaning Rima will not be able to file her request until after the weekend when her husband is to be released.

KAFA had previously lobbied for lengthy protection requests to be handled by the public prosecutor, whose schedule is more flexible.

If a protection order is not issued on time, Rima’s husband may hurt her again after he’s released, it argued.

The husband’s file will be transferred to another judge Saturday.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on May 31, 2014, on page 2.

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Summary

Public Prosecutor Bilal Dennawi ordered the detention of a man, whose identity remains unknown, for 48 hours after an investigation showed that he had been abusing his wife.

KAFA, a women's rights organization, reported that the couple's neighbors called the Internal Security Forces emergency hotline Friday after witnessing Rima – an alias used by the organization – being physically abused by her husband.

According to KAFACommunications Officer Maya Ammar, Rima had been tempted to do so, but refused after receiving support from both the prosecutor and the organization.

Following the investigation, prosecutor Dennawi issued a decision to detain Rima's husband, return the child to her, and send the mother and child home.

Rima's husband can only be detained for 48 hours according to the new law, and she will file for a protection order next week.


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