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Lebanon: Activists can't use "rape" in billboards

Publication Date: 
February 8, 2012

You’ll soon seen billboards across Lebanon in support of a demonstration on February 18 to raise awareness about a draft law on domestic violence against women.

But get this: the billboards have already been censored.

Activists originally submitted the image (pictured above) to General Security for approval (all billboards are subject to censorship by the government body). But officials came back and rejected the use of the word “rape” in the graphic.

And this brings us right to the heart of the issue: the parliamentary committee tasked with reviewing the draft law to protect women from domestic violence does not want to recognize the existence of marital rape. MP Imad Hout told The Daily Star in a December interview that “there’s nothing called rape between a husband and a wife. It’s called forcing someone violently to have intercourse.”

Anja Najjar, from the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, one of the groups working in defense of women’s rights in Lebanon said the decision to take out the word “rape” was not a surprise.  “In a way, I more or less expected this to happen because they already didn’t want to use the phrase ‘marital rape’ in the draft law itself and then to have that posted all over the city on big billboards?… So we’re trying to come up with different alternatives like the word 'abuse'… obviously I’m not pleased about it… at least call it by its name… which is rape.”

Learn more about the draft law to protect women from domestic violence here.


Below, the amended version of the original image, slated to hit billboards across Lebanon in the next few days.

(Photo courtesy of the group, "STOP domestic violence against women")