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Women in Lebanon still threatened by sexism, violence

Several cases of kidnapping, violence and other acts against women indicate that Lebanon still has a long way to go in ensuring gender equality.
A Lebanese girl is seen behind a national flag as she attends a protest against killings during recent clashes in central Beirut May 18, 2008. Rival Lebanese leaders made progress towards ending their political crisis on Sunday but disagreements over Hezbollah's weapons remained a major hurdle to a Qatari-mediated deal.     REUTERS/Damir Sagolj   (LEBANON) - RTX5VJ7

Examples of discrimination and worse against Lebanese women are pouring in at an accelerating pace. The examples range from controlling individual behavior to deadly violence. It occurs within the scope of family life — which in Lebanon is governed by varying mindsets of sectarianism, religious fanaticism and outdated ideas —and within the realm of public and personal life. There have even been attempts to impose foreign values and norms on women beyond the country’s laws and regulations and with which Lebanon has had no experience.

A brief inventory of the most recent such incidents will suffice. In October, a teenage girl named Eva was kidnapped and forced to marry, after which it appeared that such acts had become normal, especially involving Syrian refugee girls. Lebanese media and women's rights organizations often publish reports and investigations about the — often miserable — conditions of displaced Syrian girls, women and even children. Some nongovernmental organizations have reported the spread of prostitution among Syrian refugees. There have also been reports of “set prices” for marriages and the selling of Syrian girls. As this phenomenon has spread, so has the number of security incidents, especially in some remote, rural and agricultural areas of Lebanon such as Akkar, in the far north.

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