Criminalizing domestic violence

Written by Deborah Kiameh

Reading time: 12 minutes

The “domestic” part doesn’t matter, Violence is violence.

Any act of gender-based violence that causes or is likely to cause physical, sexual, or mental harm or suffering to women is referred to as violence against women. This definition includes threats of such acts, coercion, and arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether they take place in public or private life.

An intimate partner or ex-actions partners that injure another person physically, sexually, or psychologically are referred to as intimate relationship violence. These actions can include physical aggression, sexual coercion, psychological abuse, and controlling behaviors.

Sexual abuse is “any sexual activity, attempt to engage in sexual behavior, or other acts against a person’s sexuality committed by anyone, regardless of the victim’s relationship to the perpetrator, in any situation. Rape, forcible physical intercourse, and other non-contact acts are included “.

Factors associated with intimate partner violence and sexual violence against women

The risk of intimate partner and sexual violence is affected by factors at the individual, family, community, and larger societal levels that interact with one another (protective). Some are connected to witnessing violence, some are connected to inflicting violence, and some are connected to both.

Lower levels of education (perpetrators of sexual violence and those who have experienced sexual violence) are risk factors for both intimate partner and sexual violence, as are a history of exposure to child maltreatment and seeing familial violence.

Alcohol abuse and antisocial personality disorder are both problematic.

Community norms that promote or accord higher status to men and lower status to women; low levels of women’s access to paid employment; low degree of gender equality; destructive masculine behaviors, such as having many partners or attitudes that condone violence; (discriminatory laws, etc.).

The following are particular risk factors for intimate partner violence: prior exposure to violence; marital strife and discontent.

  • Communication issues between partners; male partners’ control-seeking behavior.
  • attitudes of male sex entitlement; 
  • notions on family honor and sexual purity; 
  • lax legal penalties for sexual assault.

Violence against women has several basic causes, including gender inequality and social practices that legitimize violence against women.

Health consequences

Sexual and intimate partner violence can have substantial short- and long-term effects on a woman’s physical, emotional, sexual, and reproductive health. Parents also have an impact on the health and happiness of their kids. For women, their families, and societies as a whole, this violence has significant social and financial repercussions:

  • Lead to tragic consequences like homicide or suicide.
  • Cause injuries; 42% of women who experience intimate partner violence said that the violence caused them to become harmed 
  • There is also a higher chance of miscarriage, stillbirth, preterm labor, and low birth weight babies when intimate partner abuse occurs during pregnancy. Women who experienced intimate partner violence were 41% more likely to give birth prematurely and 16% more likely to miscarry, according to the same 2013 study. 
  • These types of violence can result in depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and other anxiety disorders, sleep issues, eating disorders, and suicide attempts. According to the 2013 analysis, women who had experienced intimate partner abuse were nearly twice as likely to have depression and drinking issues.
  • Other negative health impacts can include back pain, stomach discomfort, persistent pelvic pain, headaches, gastrointestinal issues, impaired mobility, and general malaise.
  • Sexual abuse, particularly when it occurs in childhood, might enhance smoking, drug use, and unsafe sexual conduct. It is linked to both committing violent acts and suffering violent acts (for males and females).

Impact on children

Kids growing up in violent homes may experience a variety of behavioral and emotional issues. They may also be linked to later violent recidivism or experience.

  • Infant and child mortality and morbidity rates are also greater when intimate partner violence occurs (through, for example diarrheal disease or malnutrition and lower immunization rates).

Social and economic costs

Sexual and intimate relationship violence have significant social and financial repercussions that reverberate across society. Women may experience loneliness, being unable to work, losing earnings, missing out on routine activities, and having restricted capacity to care for themselves and their children.

On the other hand, we also witness child marriage, another type of domestic violence. This amazing union was either formal or informal before the age of 18. It is a sort of gender-based violence that deprives kids of their childhood and violates their human rights. Moreover, child marriage affects their education and increases their vulnerability to abuse, discrimination, and violence.

The devastation of child marriage effectively ends a girl’s childhood.

 How? Forced marriage robs a girl of her education and more, replacing lessons learned in the classroom with adult responsibilities, including forced pregnancy, well before she’s ready. This not only violates her rights, but risks her life, the lives of her children and the future of her community.

Tragically, about 40 million girls worldwide are currently married or in a union – and with no help, an estimated 150 million girls will be married in the next decade.

The impact in Lebanon as the former colony of France until 1946

The Constitution of Lebanon (one fundamental provision in the preamble- established by the constitutional statute of September 21, 1990) provides a report on child marriage, early marriage, and forced marriage in Lebanon. The United Nations Organization, of which Lebanon is a founding and active member, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are both principles that Lebanon upholds. Without exception, the government must apply these principles in all spheres and areas. As a result, the “Convention on the Rights of the Child,” which Lebanon ratified without any conditions in 1991, superseded all relevant state legislation and constitutional authority.

In 1997, Lebanon adopted CEDAW as well, although with a few restrictions on articles 9, 16, and 29. Lebanon viewed Article 16 on “Marriage and Family Life” to be in conflict with Article 9 of the Constitution, which grants religious organizations the right to formulate the laws governing personal status. Personal status rules in Lebanon vary depending on how many different religious sects there are. A total of 18 communities have their own personal status laws. As a result, there is no single law governing marriage, and each female is subject to a separate set of rules depending on the religious group to which she belongs. The minimum age for marriage in several religious communities is 15. Some have made provisions to permit girls to get married as young as nine.

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Reasons responsible for Child Marriages

From conception to death, women are subject to discrimination. Their schooling, family, sociopolitical realms, employment, and workplace are all affected by the discrimination. These discriminations against women are also reflected in the system of child marriage. There are numerous causes of child marriages, including the following:

Poverty of Family

Even today, when a family is struggling financially, many women and girls are denied access to basic resources in rural areas. Family poverty affects female family members, especially female children. A impoverished household typically puts its female children at danger. Every opportunity is chosen to avoid the burden of a female child. In order to avoid the various responsibilities that come with having a female child, families often turn to child marriages as a result of poverty.

Social Insecurity

One of the main societal causes of child marriage is social security. Many people believe that married women are far more sheltered from social offenses than single women. Unmarried women are frequently the victims of crimes motivated by ill will. And therefore, in order to protect their daughters from these crimes, assaults, and taunts against unmarried girls, their parents rush to marry their daughters as soon as possible following or even before the age of puberty.

Avoiding share in Ancestral Property

Traditionally in rural areas, parents used to believe that all of their inherited wealth belonged to their sons and that if they married their daughters young, they would forfeit their part. They wouldn’t claim the girl child’s part if the marriage occurred at a young age. As a result, one of the causes of child marriages is women’s entitlement to share in inherited wealth.

Effects of Child Marriage

High difference in age between bride and bridegroom

In most cases, there is a significant age gap between the bride and the bridegroom. The bride, not the bridegroom, is typically the kid in child marriages. While the bride is a child, she obviously has no freedom to express her ideas about any aspect of family life and must obediently follow her husband’s commands.

Early Pregnancy-Health complications

Child marriages tend to result in an early pregnancy, which has several negative health effects. She cannot adjust to changes in her during pregnancy if she has the correct understanding about the sexual activities and physical changes that take place during adolescence. Even elderly women nowadays lack the knowledge necessary to appropriately lead her. Older women used to keep a close eye on the situation throughout pregnancy, delivery, and the postpartum period. Yet, older women nowadays do not possess the expertise or optimistic outlook of women in the past to seek qualified medical professionals.

Fall in High Fertility Age Group

Early marriage usually results in a girl having more children and unintended pregnancies. Women are obliged to become pregnant and carry the child because they lack access to advanced medical facilities that could prevent or delay pregnancy.

Inabilities to Plan or Manage Families

Young girls have less authority over their offspring and are less capable of making choices regarding their dietary needs, medical care, and household supervision.

Effect on sexual health of young girls

Due to the natural immaturity of their sexual organs, young females used to experience significant physical pain during sexual activity. Perforation of the intestine or bladder, caused by labor that lasts too long, HIV/AIDS, and other illnesses are common complications associated with pregnancy at a young age.

In conclusion, one of the most cruel forms of abuse that women in our society now endure is domestic violence. According to statistics, 85 percent of victims of domestic violence are women. Men make up only 15% of victims. No matter the victim’s color, faith, religion, or social status, domestic violence can affect anyone. Domestic abuse will persist among all social strata without ever coming to an end if the problem is not addressed in an appropriate way. We must get together and pass firmer laws that will safeguard the abuse victims as we seek to eradicate this dreadful kind of abuse.

Domestic V

 A country too diverse to generalize:

With its many different religions and seventeen different religious systems, Lebanon is a remarkably diverse country. Because of this, generalizing about the status and treatment of Lebanese women is exceedingly challenging. Islam and Christianity account for 54% and 41% of the population, respectively, in Lebanon (Lebanon: History, 2016). Although the regulations governing women in the two religions are different, both religions share responsibility for the gender gap.

The advantage of sectarian diversity has turned into a curse due to the misapplication of the constitution. Clerics are taking advantage of Article 9 of the Constitution to prioritize the rights of sects over the rights of civilians, and to rob women, in particular, of their most basic human rights. Article 9 enshrines freedom of belief and gives it the status of absoluteness, provided that this does not violate public order. 

The jurisprudence of the Constitutional Council has settled on inalienable legal principles, the most important of which are: 

  • The right of communities to manage their affairs independently.
  • The right of the state to legislate and regulate the work of sects in accordance with the constitution.
  • Paragraph D of the preamble to the Constitution states that the people are the source of powers and the sovereign exercises them through constitutional institutions. 
  • The original and absolute power of legislation is limited to the House of Representatives.

It is worth recalling that the principles of human rights and the obligation to embody them are enshrined in the preamble to the Constitution. On the other hand, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights stipulates in its first article that all individuals are born equal in dignity. Article II also stipulates that everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration without distinction of any kind, in particular as to race, color, sex, language, religion or origin. 

Based on the above, the state alone has the right to regulate public affairs and to enact legislation inspired by the constitution because the law based on the principles of the Bill of Human Rights and international conventions is our choice to respect the rights of the individual, family and society.

In addition to the unfair laws against women that shackle them and force them to give up most of their human rights, hence the need to legislate a unified personal status law. 

He does not reject ceremonies, but is keen to protect against the bad application of sectarian laws, and does not prevent religious ceremonies, but he prohibits practices that affect human rights. Children are registered on the individual box of each parent and bear the last name of each of them. The parental authority aims to secure the interest of the child, protect his interests and avoid any negative repercussions that may result from marital disputes.

On the other hand, it is forbidden to contract the marriage of minors, as each of the spouses must have completed eighteen years. The officer in charge of the marriage contract shall inform the Public Prosecution, which is in charge of hearing complaints of domestic violence in accordance with the law, when requested to perform a marriage contract for a minor in violation of the law. Anyone who violates the reporting obligation shall be punished by imprisonment from 3 months to one year with a fine of 4 * minimum wage.

  • The contractors have the right to include special conditions in the body of the contract to which they are bound, including: choosing the system of funds and spending.
  • Each spouse respects the belief and religion of the other and undertakes not to interfere with it or limit its right to practice its religious rites or rituals. 

On the dissolution of the marital bond:

“Abandonment”, that is, the separation of the spouses by mutual consent in housing with the continuation of the marital bond and they are committed to preserving the interest of the children and preserving the dignity of each other and their commitment to duties and expenditure.  “Divorce” when the period of abandonment exceeds 3 years or when sentenced to imprisonment for 3 years and more, the divorce is done according to a divorce agreement organized by the notary public. The Personal Status Court makes decisions to protect the interests of the children.

Divorce resulting from infidelity or domestic violence is done after submitting a complaint to the civil courts, and the Personal Status Court takes decisions to protect the interest of the children. 

  • Implementation of the Law on the Reduction of Domestic Violence after amendments
  • Unification of the age of custody for all denominations 
  • Consolidation of alimony to a minimum due to the similarity of needs under the prevailing living and economic conditions.