Lebanese Feminists unite for international women's day march
On 11th March 2017, over a thousand demonstrators gathered in Beirut in honour of International Women’s Day and to draw attention to women’s rights issues. As reported in the CIVICUS Monitor, Lebanese feminist groups played an instrumental role in advocating to repeal legislation that allowed convicted rapists to avoid prosecution by marrying their victims. The march was coordinated by several women’s rights groups, including Sawt al-Niswa, Fe-Male, the Dammeh Feminist Collective and the American University of Beirut’s Feminist Club. In a statement, one of the organisers commented on the protest, saying:
"Because women’s voices matter now more than ever and on all fronts, because women are at the very core of social, political, and legal issues and are able to fundamentally shift their course, because we still hear the same excuses and compromises over the basic rights that guarantee us complete gender equity and justice. Both at home and from the moment they step outside their doors, women in Lebanon live daily struggles under patriarchy."
The march brought together active feminists, students, women's and gender-equality groups from across Lebanon. The day of the march was also an occasion to demonstrate solidarity with other women human rights defenders, such as Azza Suleiman and Mozn Hassan who have recently been persecuted in Egypt.
On 13th February 2017, over 300 protesters attacked the headquarters of a TV station in Beirut. The station, "al-Jadeed," came under criticism after airing a satirical programme that made reference to the founder of the AMAL movement during the 1978 civil war, Musa al-Sadr. Protesters, insulted and angered by the reference, carried flags of the Shiite AMAL movement and threw fireworks, bricks and eggs at the building. The next day, the protest became more intense, as a fire erupted in the building. Lebanese security forces broke up the protest after military personnel were deployed. Many freedom of speech advocates have condemned the attack on the TV station, concerned that it may set a dangerous precedent for reacting violently against those who exercise the right to freedom of expression in Lebanon.