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University of Balamand > News > Archive > Violence and Gender Inequalities


Violence and Gender Inequalities

On the occasion of the International Day to End Violence against Women, the University of Balamand organized two panel sessions on gender inequalities and violence against women with the participation of students, faculty and NGO representatives.

The first, on November 26, was a collaborative effort between the Office of Student Affairs and United Nations Information Center in Beirut (UNIC-Beirut) addressing the issue of violence against women “through the male gaze,” a form of aggression rarely recognized by society.

In a statement on behalf of President Elie Salem, Dean of Students Tony Gergess said that “one of the major problems we are facing today is violence, in general, but against women in particular.” The main objective of the activity, said Dr. Gergess, was to highlight ways and means of combating violence against women. The University, he continued, encourages students to address relevant issues “no matter how sensitive they may be.”

In introducing the panel, moderator Ms. Dima Issa opened the discussion by referring to the many forms in which violence against women can take place. She asked, “When we talk about violence against women, are we talking about actual physical violence? Are we talking about laws that allow for women to be raped and attacked in their own homes? Are we talking about general attitudes of abuse towards women? Are we talking about women perceived as objects and property? Are we talking about female migrants workers who often suffer in silence afraid of consequences? Or are we talking about symbolic violence where women are continuously portrayed as weaker, and less capable than men?”

In turn, UNIC Beirut Director Bahaa Elkoussy underlined what he called “the fundamental role” women play both in the family, but in society as well, with their significant contribution to the country’s socioeconomic and political life. Violence against women, said Elkoussy, “is a global phenomenon besetting societies worldwide” and is “an affront to human dignity, a violation of human rights and a breach of all international covenants, divine laws, norms and canons.”

During the second panel, on November 28, Political Science graduate student Asma Kammoun argued that Lebanon’s sectarian system is undermining women’s rights and the participation of women in politics, adding that religious values may also be a constraint to the equality between men and women in issues such as inheritance, divorce, and citizenship. Hence, “the abolishment of the sectarian system and the institution, instead, of one unified personal status law would be a prelude for women’s rights,” said Kammoun.

Psychology graduate student Sahar Yaacoub addressed the issue from the perspective of what she called “benevolent sexism,” where women are assigned certain societal roles that are seen as appropriate to them. Rather, she suggested that men and women should be seen as capable of playing equal roles in society. In turn, Taly Tannos, a MCOM graduate student, derided the media for portraying woman as sex objects.

Representing the Lebanese Council to Resist Violence Against Women, Ms. Laura Sfeir referred to some of the Lebanese laws that continue to treat women unfairly, including discrimination in the nationality law, whereby women, in contrast to men, are unable to give their husbands or children Lebanese nationality. She called for the abolishment of these laws, including those who fail to protect against domestic violence, in order to “liberate women from our patriarchal society.”

“No article in the constitution states that there is a distinction between citizens according to their gender. Nevertheless, women continue to face discrimination with respect to citizenship despite legal provisions imposing equality. Gaps continue to exist between Lebanon’s legal obligations under international standards and existing laws, procedures, and practices,” said Ms. Sfeir.

Ms. Sfeir thanked the University for hosting the event and the students for their participation, saying it marked an important step in the continuing effort to bring the issue of gender inequalities in front of Lebanon’s youth. ​​
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University of Balamand,
Balamand Al Kurah,
Lebanon

Tel:  +961-6-930250
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