The violent attack by a husband against his expectant wife in Tripoli reported Friday is among the most horrific of crimes, as was the sexual assault on a Syrian refugee child, but it is essential that the media, and society as a whole, address and discuss such occurrences head on, so that the taboos of violence against women and rape are finally broken.
Until this happens, many other similar crimes will continue, but will not come to light, as they will not be reported to the police. One in three women around the world will be victim to physical or sexual violence at some point in their lives, and this is unacceptable. Women should not have to live in fear of the men they live with, or strangers in the street. The rape of a wife by a husband is still not considered a crime in Lebanon. This must change.
The creation this summer of a dedicated Internal Security Forces unit tasked with policing domestic violence crimes is an important step, as is the addition of women police officers into the force. Extra steps are needed, however, including the construction of safe spaces for women who are fleeing violence or rape.
It is essential that psychological support be given to victims of such crimes, so that they no longer feel like victims, but survivors who can continue with their lives, stronger than ever.
The Social Affairs Ministry has, and rightly so, vowed to provide psychological support to the victim of Friday’s sexual attack and her family.
Children, and perhaps especially those in the refugee community, are also vulnerable to such abuses of power, and we must all speak out on these crimes.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on January 11, 2014, on page 7.