Rape Survivors Fight Against Victim-Blaming In Beirut, Lebanon | Politics
Manal Issa walks overwhelmed through the streets of Beirut, crying and saying that she has been raped. She wears a mini skirt and an unbuttoned top. This was a social experiment and Manal is an actress. The people were unaware of the hidden cameras and that this was a test. But their reactions were shocking.
Some people had stopped and told her to “calm down”. Many had even asked if she was drunk or on drugs. When she had told them that she has been raped, almost everyone had commented on her clothing and justified what had happened to her with the reason being her “provocative” outfit.
She was called a “whore” and “slut”. Within the nine hours of the experiment not one person had even thought of calling the police.
The social experiment had been organised by the Lebanese women’s rights group ABAAD last month. It had been part of the ongoing #ShameOnWho campaign and aimed to demonstrate the blame rape victims receive by society.
ABAAD’s founder Ghida Anani has told CNN: “In general, people think that she’s the loose one, she’s the one to blame and she’s the one who should be held accountable. We’re trying to encourage women who are survivors of rape to speak up, to get out from the cycle and culture of victim-blaming”.
Rape survivors are now fighting back against victim-blaming on the streets of Beirut. With the #ShameOnWho campaign Ghida wants to expose the mistreatment rape victims receive.
In 1994, in Lebanon 30% of women had reported that they had experienced some form of violence. Today, the figure comes close to 60%.
In 2014, Lebanon’s parliament had passed its first law that made domestic violence illegal. However, in 2017, it had been legalised that if rapists married their victims they would be released. And to this date, there is no minimum legal age set for marriage and rape within marriage is still legal in Lebanon.
In five locations in Beirut, artists have painted portrays of rapists’ faces. “These are wanted men. Today, the spotlight should be on the people who are doing this kind of behaviour and not those who are subject to it”.
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