Middle East

Lebanese Women Are Standing Up

- By Samantha Ritchie

In Western countries rape is defined as “having sex with a woman against her will.” However, this is not the case in many Islamic societies. Islam sees rape – including marital rape – as a crime of violence that robs a women of her sexual autonomy.

Despite this, custom and practice in many Islamic countries, enforced by patriarchy and fundamentalist interpretations of Islam, means rape is defined as “forcing yourself on a woman you have no right to have sex with” Therefore, a man is not convicted of rape if he carries the act out on a female captive, slave or wives as he has a “right” to have sex with her as they have no right to refuse. And this is why, in most Islamic countries – with the exception of Malaysia – raping your wife is not considered a crime.

However in Lebanon, where over 50% of the population are Muslim, women are calling on the Government to take domestic violence seriously. There have been reports over the past week on Lebanese women taking to the street in protesting against this shameful law.

In 2010, the Lebanese Cabinet produced a draft of the Law to Protect Women from Family Violence. Unfortunately, this law has been held in contempt in Lebanon due to both the Sunni and Shia establishments.

Moreover, many Muslim judges also agree that marital rape should be upheld in the eyes of the law and it is a man’s right to have sex with a women whether she wants to or not.

As a woman, if someone forces themselves on me to undergo sexual activity it is rape, regardless if they are my husband, boyfriend or a stranger. And this is why Lebanese women are standing up and fighting back against the laws which don’t support women who suffer domestic violence.

Please support women in Lebanon and across the world in protesting against rape in their countries.

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