The #NoShameNoBlame campaign, launched during the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, aims to amend Chapter Seven of the Lebanese Penal Code on sexual assault crimes, calling on implementing stricter penalties for such crimes.
The campaign is built on a national survey conducted by ABAAD, which shows that over half of women who were sexually assaulted in Lebanon in 2022 did not report the crime due to considerations relating to dignity and honor. Women who were not subjected to sexual violence confirmed, at a very high rate (84 percent), that they would report such an assault. However, paradoxically, this percentage decreased significantly (55 percent) for women who were sexually assaulted, under the pressure of dignity and honor.
The survey included 1,800 women and girls residing in Lebanon (1,200 Lebanese, 400 Syrian, 200 Palestinian), whose ages ranged between 18 and 50 years. According to the Security Forces’ figures, 57 cases of sexual assault were reported between January 2022 and October 2022 in Lebanon; 20 cases of rape and 37 cases of sexual harassment; an average of six cases per month. One of the testimonies read:
“I was raped. I did not report it to the security forces because I did not have legal papers. I have been a refugee in Lebanon for years, and I was afraid that I would be arrested. I did not tell anyone about the crime, and what torments me most today is that the perpetrator was not punished.”
ABAAD’s main message is that sexual assault is a crime worthy of a serious sentence to achieve justice for survivors first and foremost and to protect women and girls from sexual assault crimes.
The strategy of the #NoShameNoBlame campaign is multifaceted and includes a range of elements that work together to achieve its objectives.
One of the key aspects of the campaign is its data-driven approach. ABAAD conducted a nationwide survey to gather information on the prevalence of sexual violence and abuse in Lebanon, as well as the the frequency of reports by survivors. This data was then used to inform the development of the campaign, ensuring that it was based on accurate and relevant information.
2. Wide reach
ABAAD partnered with a range of well-known individuals in Lebanon, including actors, musicians, and social media personalities, to help spread the message of the campaign. These influencers were able to use their platforms to reach a wider audience, sharing ABAAD's powerful videos and messages that highlighted the impact of sexual violence and the importance of speaking out.
3. Advocacy and Lobbying
Throughout the campaign, ABAAD was coordinating with all relevant parliamentarian blocs in the Lebanese Parliament to submit the proposed legal amendments of Chapter Seven of the Lebanese Penal Code.
4. A stunt outside Lebanon’s parliament
A stunt outside Lebanon’s parliament took place on the 26th of November where dozens of rape survivors, activists and influencers hung their dirty laundry outside parliament, amplifying the voices of those who couldn’t speak.
5. Powerful videos and the concept of "Dirty Laundry"
The campaign launched with an intro teaser in which we see Nour Arida, Lebanon’s most famous model and influencer, washing clothes to remove the "shame of the rape".
“Unfortunately, sexual assault crimes in Lebanon are still linked to honour, dignity and shame. It is important to address these crimes independently from society’s deep-rooted stereotypes, and to deal with them firmly,” explains Ghida Anani, founder and director of ABAAD.
ABAAD then launched a webisode series hosted by Nour Arida, who gave her voice and platforms to rape survivors sparking an unprecedented and open conversation about the topic with four heart-wrenching testimonials (Episode 1, episode 2, episode 3, episode 4).
ABAAD and Leo Burnett also collaborated with artist Remie Akl to create the "Dirty Laundry" film that highlights the culture of shaming rape victims in the country. The film is based on the idea that survivors of sexual abuse in Lebanon are taught to “hide their dirty laundry” and made to feel as though they’re responsible for upholding the honour and dignity of the family, which in turn ensures their silence. But Akl and the women who feature in the spot call out the dirty laundry for what it really is: a crime. Akl previously worked with Leo Burnett and ABAAD on the 2021 Cannes Lions award-winning campaign Baklava Got Legs, which highlighted the misogyny and harassment women are subjected to on the street.
The #NoShameNoBlame campaign is a comprehensive and multifaceted approach to tackling sexual violence and abuse in Lebanon. By combining data-driven research with advocacy and awareness-raising activities, ABAAD has been able to create a powerful and effective campaign that has had a significant impact on public attitudes and policy in Lebanon.
“So far, #NoShameNoBlame has gathered a promising number of Lebanese parliamentarians’ signatures, showing commitment to change the law and spark open discussions about the issue across the Arab world and beyond. No longer should women in Lebanon be at the mercy of laws that shift the blame on survivors rather than on the assaulters. These laws are grotesque, unimaginable, and unfortunately, real,” says Danielle Hoayek, Co-Founder and Legal Advisor of ABAAD.
8 out of 10 Parliament blocs signed the amendment of Chapter 7: A milestone towards women's rights and safety in Lebanon and an evidence of the significant impact that campaigns can have on societies.
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