A Syrian girl, thought to be about six years old, died yesterday after she was beaten by her father, Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces (ISF) reported.
The girl was pronounced dead on arrival at a hospital in the northern city of Tripoli in the early hours of yesterday.
In a statement, the ISF said: “Immediately after news circulated of the girl’s death due to being severely beaten by father… ISF detained him at the hospital.”
“During the interrogation… with the father and his wife… it appeared that they were used to beating the girl.”
Adding that, the coroner found evidence of beating on the girl’s body.
In recent weeks, activists have raised concerns that the number of domestic violence cases is rising due to the nationwide lockdown.
Lebanon has been in a state of “general mobilisation” since 15 March, and recently introduced a 7pm to 5am curfew.
Residents have been asked to remain indoors, with all non-essential public and private institutions shuttered.
Most recently, the government restricted the movement of vehicles, with those with an odd number at the end of their number plate travelling on different days to those with even numbers.
Since these measures were imposed, the ISF has reported a 100 per cent year-on-year increase in calls to a hotline dedicated to domestic violence cases.
Local non-governmental organisation KAFA (Enough) has raised concerns over the rising number of cases and noted an increase in private written messages reporting abuse through social media such as Facebook, in March.
According to a report released by the organisation on 6 April, the group’s Support Centre in the Bekaa Valley has seen a shift in the nationality of women reporting abuse since the imposition of a coronavirus lockdown.
Previous averages had shown that 45 per cent of communications were received from Syrian women, and 55 per cent from Lebanese, but that proportion has risen to 70 per cent since 13 March.
The organisation has attributed this shift to coronavirus-related lockdown measures, which have effectively shuttered refugee camps to combat the spread of the disease, making it harder for Syrians living in the camps to report abuse.
Concerns over the prevalence of domestic abuse in Lebanon have consistently been raised by rights groups and activists, and the Human Rights Watch (HRW) termed a law, passed in 2014, to punish domestic violence, “good, but incomplete”.
“Lebanon’s law on domestic violence finally recognises that women subjected to abuse by husbands and families need protection and legal recourse,” said Rothna Begum, senior researcher of women’s rights in the region.
“But the law has serious flaws and the parliament should consider amendments to fully protect women from domestic violence.”
In 2017, the Justice Ministry, with KAFA, drafted a new bill which would amend current laws. The bill, however, is still under discussion by a sub-parliamentary committee, and legal loopholes which mean domestic abusers are not properly punished for their actions, remain open.