Historic ruling: Lebanon's parliament criminalises sexual harassment

WION Web Team
Beirut, Lebanon Published: Dec 21, 2020, 09:42 PM(IST)

(Representative Image) Photograph:( Others )

Story highlights

The new law passed by Lebanon's parliament 'criminalises sexual harassment, especially in the workplace'

In a historic decision, Lebanon's parliament has passed a bill criminalising sexual harassment, especially in the workplace, and has also brought a positive change in the infamous domestic violence law.

The new law "criminalises sexual harassment, especially in the workplace", the official National News Agency reported.

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As per the new law, all perpetrators, if proven guilty, can be sentenced to up to two years of prison time and will be fined 20 times the value of the minimum wage of the country — which amounts up to $450 (675,000 Lebanese pounds).

In addition to this, the parliament also decided that the maximum penalties will be reserved especially for harassment faced by women and others in workplaces and all public and educational institutions.

The Parliament has also expanded the definition of domestic violence — a moe which has been waited for since the legislation's establishment in 2014. Earlier, several activists had criticised the legislation for having a narrow definition of 'domestic violence' and for failing to specifically criminalise marital rape. However, now, the parliament said it "penalises economic and psychological violence".

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UN Women Lebanon praised the law's endorsement of "important protection-related measures that strengthen the legal framework to end violence against women" in the country.

While the decision has been welcomed by masses, several activists still feel the ruling fails to give full protection and justice to women.

The legislation allows victims to use criminal justice system, instead of civil courts, due to which the victims will have to be named and the cases will be made public. "This is a major obstacle for victims and does not give them the incentive to file complaints," said Karim Nammour, a lawyer.

Another obstacle is that the Parliament has failed to lay down penalties for marital rape. "Marriage to the victim should not exempt a sexual offender from punishment," explained Aya Majzoub, Lebanon researcher at Human Rights Watch in an interview to AFP.

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