Beirut, Lebanon – Lebanon’s Parliament has endorsed a landmark legislation criminalising sexual harassment that could see the most flagrant perpetrators commit up to 4 decades in jail and spend fines up to 50 periods the minimum wage.
“It’s a really excellent legislation that must serve as a deterrent,” explained Danielle Hoyek, a lawyer with gender equality organisation ABAAD, on Monday.
“It also provides a tiny little bit of hope for the duration of this financial and social crisis Lebanon is going as a result of. It displays that we are not living by the legislation of the jungle, that there are rules that you can lean on,” she advised Al Jazeera.
ABAAD was a single of a selection of non-governmental groups that supplied their inputs on the laws.
In addition to punishing the perpetrators, the law affords safety to the two the victims and any witnesses who testify against the accused.
It also generates a specialised fund at the Social Affairs Ministry tasked with supplying aid and rehabilitation to victims and raising awareness about sexual harassment, and explicitly provides victims to right to seek out payment.
Hoyek reported it was just one of the finest laws of its type in the location owing to its wide scope and the vast definition of sexual harassment, defined as “any recurring bad behaviour that is out of the regular, unwanted by the target, with a sexual connotation that constitutes a violation of the system, privacy, or feelings”.
The harassment can come about “through words, actions, alerts or sexual or pornographic hints” and also consists of harassment by electronic signifies.
In case pressure or pressure is utilised by a perpetrator for sexual gains, the harassment does not want to be recurring for it to fall beneath the law.
The United Nations’ gender equality and women’s empowerment workplace in Lebanon, UN Girls Lebanon, tweeted that it was “the initially regulation in Lebanon to penalise perpetrators of sexual harassment and abuse”.
Obvious obstacles to equality continue to stay in Lebanon, like the fact that ladies are barred from passing on their nationality.
Marital rape also remains legal, when hundreds of 1000’s of primarily non-Lebanese feminine domestic workers are explicitly excluded from the most basic protections less than the labour regulation.
A few-tiered punishment
Less than the new sexual harassment legislation, the cheapest sentences assortment involving just one month and one 12 months and/or good amongst three and 10 periods the bare minimum wage, currently 675,000 Lebanese pounds per thirty day period. That equates to practically $450 at the formal government exchange amount, or about $80 at the market amount applied for the acquire of primarily non-crucial products.
The punishment boosts to between six months and two decades in jail and a good of involving 10 and 20 occasions the minimal wage if there is a “relationship of dependency” or operate concerning the perpetrator and the target if the perpetrator uses their posture of ability about a colleague or if the harassment occurs at a assortment of state establishments, universities, schools or on transport solutions.
The harshest penalties, concerning two and 4 a long time in jail and a good of between 30 and 50 occasions the least wage, are reserved for perpetrators who have “material or moral” electrical power in excess of the target if the sufferer is physically disabled or otherwise incapable of defending by themselves if the harassment is fully commited by two people or far more and if the perpetrators exert extreme substance, ethical or mental force to acquire sexual favours.
Domestic violence law amended
The Lebanese Parliament on Monday also endorsed amendments to a 2014 domestic violence law, broadening its scope to involve violence connected to – but not necessarily committed all through – marriage.
“So if there is a divorce, for case in point, and the partner is violent from his ex-spouse that is continue to considered domestic abuse,” MP Inaya Ezzedine, the chair of parliament’s Females and Youngsters Committee, told Al Jazeera.
The law was also amended so that women who leave their husbands thanks to domestic violence can retain custody of their small children right until the age of 13 at minimum, “because we know that a great deal of men who abuse their wives blackmail the women to stay in the marriage with the menace of taking absent their kids”, Ezzedine claimed.
Ezzedine reported the other MPs turned down her proposal to have young children remain with their mothers until finally they reach adulthood.
Leila Awada, a law firm with the outstanding Lebanese women’s rights team KAFA, said a amount of their extra progressive proposed amendments experienced also been turned down, which includes mandating counselling and rehabilitation for all those who commit domestic violence.