Lebanese shocked by rape of 16-year-old girl

An advert for a domestic violence helpline in Lebanon advising women to "not cover up the problem." (Photo courtesy: Kafa)

A 16-year-old girl was drugged and raped by three men in Lebanon’s northern city of Koura, Dahr al-Ain, the news website Lebanon Files reported on Monday.

The three men were reportedly friends with the victim and used to go out with her. After drugging her and taking her to a friend’s apartment in the northern city, the three proceeded to rape the girl.

The incident has sent shockwaves across the country with people publicly voicing their anger. Instead of calling for justice to the victims in such cases - with the all-too-familiar term being heard on the streets is “these things happen everywhere.”

The victim - whose initials were given away as I.M. - had reportedly lost her mother when she was young. On hearing the devastating news, her grandfather suffered a heart attack and is currently in intensive care unit.

The mother of one of the accused also died in the northern city of Tripoli after hearing the news. Parliament member Elie Kayrouz spoke out on the case, demanding that the the three accused should be tried and given exemplary punishment so that an example is set for the  future.

The problem of rape in Beirut has been aggravated by a lack of reporting, erroneous definitions of what sexual harassment constitutes and the dismissal of its effects.

According to Amnesty International, Syrian women refugees have been subjected to massive amounts of sexual harassment at the hands of Lebanese men who take advantage of their poverty.

Normalized

“Sexual violence, particularly against women in Lebanon, is very normalized,” the co-founder of sexual harassment tracking website, Harass Tracker, Nay el-Rahi told Al Arabiya English.

“It’s normalized and people just don’t do necessarily anything about it. Unless it’s something as flagrant as this [above] case.”

Some Lebanese news outlets have even named the victim and the suspects within their articles, which caused even more outrage among citizens.

“The naming and shaming strategy that some of the news outlets have used in this case is unacceptable in any circumstance. In the ABCs of ethical journalism that we learn, and especially in this case, protecting the victims as well as the suspects is intolerable,” Media expert Diana Moukalled told Al Arabiya English.

“Journalism has failed to play the role it should be playing in this case, and ended up labeling the victim in a society where the roles of women can be thrown about,” she added.

Such cases have gone unchecked for too long, as reports of rapes and sexual harassment has long been an issue in Lebanon. From marital rape to gang rape to individual rape, the justice system seems to be turning a blind eye to a situation that needs to have been cracked long ago.

Several incidents involving house maids, Syrian refugees and Lebanese women have been raised in the media through television talk shows to articles and blogs written about them.

“This is not new, and this is not something that happens just now and it’s not something recent. The thing with sexual violence crimes coming out to life is due to several NGOs campaigning and people becoming more vocal about the issue,” el-Rahi said.

“It’s not new…it’s horrible and horrendous, but it’s not shocking. This is completely normalized, unfortunately,” el-Rahi said, “Sexual violence against women is very prevalent, except sometimes we tend to see it more normal and we tend to be more silent about it when it happens.”
 

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:48 - GMT 06:48
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