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Lebanon: Reports of domestic violence double in 12 months

Activists take part in a demonstration against sexual harassment, rape and domestic violence in the Lebanese capital Beirut on December 7, 2019. [ANWAR AMRO/AFP via Getty Images]
Activists take part in a demonstration against sexual harassment, rape and domestic violence in the Lebanese capital Beirut on December 7, 2019. [ANWAR AMRO/AFP via Getty Images]

Reports of domestic violence in Lebanon have doubled in the last 12 months, figures seen by the Thomson Reuters Foundation (TRF) reveal.

The number of incidents of domestic violence increased from 747 in the previous year to 1,468 in the last 12 months, according to statistics collected by Lebanon's Internal Security Forces (ISF).

The country's economic and financial crisis, as well as the coronavirus pandemic, have widely been blamed for the spike in domestic abuse.

Meanwhile, the United Nations termed a global increase in domestic violence during coronavirus-related lockdowns a "shadow pandemic".

In December, Lebanon reformed its domestic violence law to include abuse "resulting from" marriage, but lawyers claim the legislation is not sufficiently clear.

According to TRF, the updated legislation does not clearly cover violence against divorced women, leaving a legal loophole.

The laws also fails to criminalise rape within marriage or prevent women being discriminated against in cases of divorce and arguments over child custody.

In one clear step forward, however, new legislation passed in December outlawed sexual harassment.

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Statistics showing the rise in domestic violence in Lebanon come after allegations that a prominent model was strangled to death by her husband last week, in the fourth such murder in the past month.

Zeina Kanjo's husband, Ibrahim Ghazal was later charged with her murder and a warrant for his arrest was issued.

Ghazal had already fled Lebanon for Turkey, according to the state-run National News Agency (NNA).

However, before Ghazal fled the country the alleged murderer was invited on air by a local television channel to explain his version of events.

The interview sparked an angry backlash on social media and claims the television station was helping to perpetuate a culture of victim blaming.

On air, Ghazal told the presenter that if did not want to get arrested then he would not be arrested, TRF reported.

In another case last month, Lebanon's ISF arrested a teenager in the northern province of Akkar after the boy confessed to fatally stabbing his 52-year-old aunt when she refused his sexual advances.

Another middle-aged woman was found dead in northern Lebanon after being strangled to death, according to TRF.

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