Lebanon study shows 6 out of 10 women do not report sexual assault because of 'honour'

Lebanon study shows 6 out of 10 women do not report sexual assault because of 'honour'
A campaign being led by a women's rights group in Lebanon aims to make further amendments to the country's laws to protect victims of sexual assault.
3 min read
25 November, 2022
Over 80 percent of women surveyed said they would report a crime of sexual assault if it happened to them [Getty/archive]

More than half of women who were subjected to sexual assault in Lebanon did not report the crime to authorities because of their "honour", a study by a women's rights organisation in Beirut has shown.

The study by Abaad - Resource Centre for Gender Equality - revealed that 6 out of 10 women, or 55 percent, did not go to the police to report cases of sexual harassment, saying they feared a complaint could tarnish their image in society or receive backlash.

A further 3 out of 10 women whose daughters were sexually assaulted did not report it because they thought no one would believe them.

Abaad’s study revealed that 75 percent of the women who took part in the study considered sexual assault to be primarily physical and psychological, while 71 percent believe that society saw sexual assault to be an attack on the woman's family's "honour" as a whole.

But over 80 percent said they would report the crime if it happened to them.

The study is part of Abaad’s latest national campaign launched on Friday under the title 'No Shame No Blame', coinciding with the 16-day global campaign aimed at ending violence against women and girls.

In 2017, the organisation spearheaded and succeeded in a campaign to abolish Article 522 of the Lebanese Penal Code, which exempted a rapist from punishment if he married his victim.

Founder and Director of Abaad Ghida Anani said it was a shame that sexual assault was still being associated with the victim’s "honour" and "shame".

"Since the beginning of our work on this issue, we have stressed the importance of looking at this type of crime outside the societal stereotyped context and dealing with it firmly," she said in a statement.

"Abaad, and since its work to abolish Article 522 of the Lebanese Penal Code, has raised its voice to demand the amendment and tight implementation of penalties for sexual assault crimes, since this issue constitutes a deterrent to prevent the occurrence of such crimes," she added.

Anani said Abaad counted on the country’s legislators to do justice to women and make the proposed amendments.

On its Twitter page, Abaad posted some harrowing accounts of victims who spoke about their experiences.

Some recalled how their families tried to kill or threatened to ostracise them.