Monday, 17 October 2011

Clerics Say Laws Against Domestic Violence Challenge Sharia Values

Men join the fight for women’s rights
Now Lebanon
ABAAD’s billboard, which reads: “With all my strength against violence… Men say no to violence against women.” 
Had it not been for the Arabic, one would have thought the billboard was in America or Europe.

“With all my strength against violence… Men say no to violence against women” reads the billboard, which sits on the highway in the Beirut suburb of Furn al-Shebbak. 

The billboard was one of 14 set up around the city this month by non-profit group ABAAD, the self-described resource center for gender equality in the Middle East. They are part of a campaign that aims to promote the idea of men supporting the fight to abolish violence against women.

“This is pioneering in the sense of our focus on engaging men in ending violence against women, all men,” said Anthony Keedi, the campaign’s project coordinator. “It’s a call for action.”
It is the first large-scale media campaign for a women’s issue run by men. As the billboards appear in conservative neighborhoods such as along the airport road as well as in more commercial areas like the Beirut-Jounieh Highway, the message is highly visible. ...

Though Lebanon seems more open than other countries in the region regarding women’s freedom and sexual matters, it is still lagging behind the West on women’s issues. Indeed, a draft law to criminalize domestic violence stalled in parliament last June, when a number of religious authorities—particularly Dar al-Fatwa and the Higher Shia Islamic Council—slammed the legislation for challenging Sharia values. ...

Gender issues should be held on the same level as economic issues, such as unemployment or workers’ rights, he added. “There is still resistance in the field that women’s rights is a women’s issue, but it is time for everyone to partake in the battle.”
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