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Kafa: “New domestic violence law could have helped victim of Didde honour killing”

BEIRUT | - June 24, 2014, 10h01
Par Sophie Spencer
As the investigation into the honour killing, which happened in north Lebanon over a week ago, continues, women’s rights organisation Kafa speculate about the impact of the new domestic violence law on this particular case.
On Friday June 13th an investigation was opened into the death of Dayala, a 24-year-old Syrian woman living in the northern Lebanese village of Didde. Dayala was allegedly strangled by her two brothers in what is said to have been an honour killing. According to a security source in Tripoli her two younger brothers, aged 13 and 16 years old, took offence at her night-time socialising.

This incident comes in the wake of the implementation of a new domestic violence law in the beginning of May. The law, which was originally proposed by Womens’ rights group Kafa (enough) to the cabinet in 2009 and amended by a parliamentary committee, was criticised by various rights groups, including Kafa, for not going far enough. Kafa claims that amendments made to the original law, including changing the name of the law so there was less focus on the protection of women and leaving out crucial clauses criminalising marital rape, made it less effective.

Despite their criticisms, Kafa see the law as a positive step, mainly because of its protection measures for women, which were the only part of the original law not to be amended. “These protection measures offer women practical solutions to protect themselves such as the establishment of police units specialised in family violence and a more serious complaints unit so that when a woman files a complaint, the general prosecutor can take measures to keep the perpetrator away from the house or detained for 48-hours” Maya El Ammar, communications coordinator for Kafa, told “Additionally the judge of urgent matters can issue a protection order which lasts much longer and includes more measures.”

According to Kafa, in the one month since the law’s implementation, four protection orders have been issued.

El Ammar, believes the new law could have helped Dayala. “[if she was being abused before] she could have filed a complaint, and would have been referred to a judge who could have given her 48 hours away from her aggressor.” However, the problem with these protection measures, criticised by both Kafa and Human Rights Watch, is that they are not sufficiently accessible and often the protection orders are not issued quickly enough for women in real danger.

However, the legal ruling, which is particularly relevant to this case, was the repeal of article 562 of the penal code in 2011. This article offered a commuted sentence for perpetrators of so-called honour killings, stipulating, “a man who surprises his wife, daughter or sister practicing adultery or illicit intercourse and killed or harmed one of the two partners without premeditation shall receive a commuted sentence.”

Since this ruling it is unclear how many honour killings have taken place in Lebanon. However, what is important to note, according to Kafa, is the fact that Dayala’s killers were supposedly her younger brothers who at the ages of 13 and 16 already thought they had authority over their 24-year old sister. “We must challenge this mentality” says Ammar.

Kafa are not resting on their laurels as regards the unacceptable gaps in the penal code. As there are no parliamentary sessions at the moment, they are investing their efforts into fieldwork to document the shortcomings of Lebanon’s penal code towards women, in order to use this information for lobbying later on.
#KAFA, #Women, #Domestic_violence, #violence
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