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Lebanon criminalises sexual harassment

The law punishes perpetrators with up to two years imprisonment and a fine of up to 20 times the value of the minimum wage, which would currently amount to nearly $450 at the official exchange rate.

The Lebanese parliament on Monday passed a landmark bill that criminalises sexual harassment, especially in the workplace.

The law punishes perpetrators with up to two years imprisonment and a fine of up to 20 times the value of the minimum wage, which would currently amount to nearly $450 at the official exchange rate.

The United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Jan Kubis, welcomed the passage of the law and described it as a step towards empowering women's and human rights, adding that "implementation is the key".

The National Commission for Lebanese Women also hailed the passage of the law, saying for the first time Lebanon has a law that punishes the perpetrators of this crime and provides protection and support for its victims.

However, the Legal Agenda, a non-governmental human rights organisation said the law contains several flaws; mainly that it approaches the subject from a "moral point of view aimed at protecting society and not the victim".

Aya Majzoub of Human Rights Watch (HRW) described the passage of the law as a positive step, even if it was late and insufficient.

The Lebanese parliament has also approved amendments to a controversial 2014 domestic violence law, broadening its scope to include violence related to – but not necessarily committed during – marriage.

The amended law allows women who leave their husbands as a result of domestic violence to retain custody of children until the age of 13.

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