Dozens of people gathered outside Beirut’s national museum on Saturday evening to light candles for a British woman and three Arab women murdered in the past week in Lebanon.
The killing of the British embassy worker Rebecca Dykes last week has sparked extensive media coverage in Lebanon, prompting activists to press for more attention to be given to widespread violence against women.
Lebanese women’s rights activists held the vigil to mourn the victims, demand better laws, and to protest against the violence – including the three reported murders in northern Lebanon alone over the past week.
“Society refuses to listen to us or see us until our blood is spilled,” Leen Hashem, an organiser, told the crowd from the steps of the museum. “This violence is structural and systematic.” She added:
Justice is not only arresting the criminal. Justice is for all this not to happen to us in the first place
“Don’t tell me to cover up. Tell him not to rape me,” one woman chanted through a megaphone, a demand repeated by people in the crowd.
Participants laid white roses over pictures of the four women, and lined the steps with candles.
Wafaa al-Kabbout stood on the sidelines, holding a framed photo of her 21-year-old daughter Zahraa, whose ex-husband shot her dead last year. “Now my daughter is gone, she’s not coming back,” she said. “But all these young women are our daughters. And there is still fear for the young women after them.”