The following statement has been penned by members of Fe-Male, one of FRIDA’s grantee partners from the Middle East & North Africa region. It is a young feminist group based in Beirut, Lebanon.
A Lebanese lawmaker has caused an uproar among activists following a statement in which he suggested that women are sometimes to be blamed for their own rape. “In some cases, we need to ask if women play an active role in pushing men to rape them,” Kataeb MP Elie Marouni said during a conference organized by the Lebanese Democratic Women’s Gathering (LDWG) at the Zouk Mikael Municipality. The conference centered on the abolition of the Lebanese Penal Code’s Article 522, which allows rapists to avoid prosecution if they marry the victim.
Furthermore, the MP used “disgraceful” and “offensive” language against Palestinian and Syrian refugees, when he told conference attendees that he was in favor of granting Lebanese women nationality rights, but that “it would disrupt the country’s demographics” if an “overwhelming” number of Palestinian and Syrian refugees in Lebanon were included.
Responding to the remark, feminist activist and co-founder of women’s rights group FE-MALE, Hayat Mirshad, accused Marouni of offending every woman in the room. “As a female Lebanese citizen, I am ashamed that people like you represent me in Parliament,” Mirshad told Marouni at the conference. Mirshad was attacked violently from the MP’s supporters in the room, and in return Marouni insulted her by suggesting that she wear a Burku’ (Veil) so that she don’t feel ashamed of him anymore!
The story didn’t end here, where the MP announced in several media interviews that he will be filling a case against the feminist activist, Hayat Mirshad, and the NGO she represents in front of the Lebanese Law.
It is worth mentioning that, the LDWG issued a statement in which it urged Kataeb leader Sami Gemayel to condemn his party member’s comments and in support of Mirshad’s stand. “We were shocked to hear what MP Marouni had to say, especially since we asked about the Kataeb Party’s official stance on rape, not his own personal beliefs,” the statement said.
In light of the above, Fe-Male NGO condemns this attack against her co-founder Hayat Mirshad, who spoke out against patriarchy in a country where not conforming is not the easiest thing, and issues this letter calling for solidarity (Arabic only) with her and all Lebanese women in the battle against patriarchy and misogynies.
We hope that you help us spread this letter on your social media accounts and among your international connections, media people, NGOs and activists.
To watch the complete speech of the MP and Hayat Mirshad’s response, click here.
Fe-Male Proud, Loud, Feminist team!