Lebanon Unveils Monument to Commemorate Female Victims of Family Violence
On November 25th, 2017, the International Day to end Violence Against Women, and at the start of the 16 days of activism to end violence against women and girls, Lebanon unveiled its first monument to salute the souls of women who lost their lives due to family violence. The monument, prominently featured on the road to the Presidential Palace, is a stark reminder of the courage and resilience of survivors of violence and an affirmation that violence against women and girls, in all its forms, still exists, but that it will not break the nation, and that the survivors will prevail, and their courage and strength will be the basis for a violence-free world.
Speaking at the launch, the President of Lebanon, His Excellency General Michel Aoun, reaffirmed both his personal commitment and that of his government, noting that when he first was elected as President, one of his first calls was to review and break down the legal barriers that separate women and men from being equal.
The event also marked another milestone, namely the recognition that no one can fight the epidemic of violence alone, rather it requires the coming together of everyone. While symbolic in nature, the monument and its launching showcases this. It was pioneered by the President of Lebanon, with the support of key ministries, showing political will at the highest levels. In line with Lebanon´s recent changes in policy and legislation that discriminate against women and girls, notably the abolishment of article 522 in the penal code which provided leniency to perpetrators of rape if their married their victims. The unveiling was initiated by civil society, under the leadership of ABAAD, who is running several specialized GBV programs and services, including emergency safe sheltering for survivors of violence in country – showing the government´s commitment to providing them this space, and recognizing the invaluable work that they do. Finally, the United Nations was represented by the resident coordinator, Mr. Philippe Lazzarini, and the regional director of UN Women, Mr. Mohammad Naciri; with UN Women leading the efforts in partnership with ABAAD and the government, bringing together all entities under one umbrella with one common objective.
Keeping the theme of the 16 days, the Lebanon campaign also adopted the #leavenoonebehind hash tag, reaffirming the commitment to reach those farthest first, and ensuring that society moves forward as one.
Ms. Ghida Anani, Founder& Director of ABAAD said their work will continue in the fight against gender based violence and ensuring the application of due diligence principles so that women and girls in Lebanon are protected and safe and enjoy their human dignity and full citizenship.
Finally, Mr. Mohammad Naciri, regional director of UN Women reiterated that “UN is proud to be a partner in this, and will continue to support these efforts, however long it is needed, until all women and girls can stand up and proudly say that they are equal with men, that they do not fear the hands or words of their partners, their family members, their neighbors, or strangers in their communities.”