A White Dress Doesn't Cover the Rape #Undress522

A project by ABAAD – Resource Center for Gender Equality

A nation-wide campaign by ABAAD that led to the repeal of Article 522, the infamous rape-marriage law, in Lebanon!
"A White Dress Does Not Cover the Rape" was a national campaign launched by ABAAD that aimed to abolish Article 522 of the Lebanese Penal code. The latter allowed men, who had been convicted of committed sexual assault, abduction, or statutory rape against a woman, to avoid penalty of no less than five years of hard labor if a valid contract of marriage could be provided. It was considered as a blatant discrimination against girls and women and their human rights.

ABAAD's campaign started in September 2016, but was officially launched during the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence (November 25 to December 10 2016), during which a series of advocacy activities were conducted. A series of “shock” stunts were also organized to convey, in creative ways, the idea that forcing a woman or girl to marry her rapist meant sentencing her to lifelong rape. The campaign aimed at mobilizing public awareness to strengthen legislations that protect women and girls from sexual violence and exploitation in Lebanon, and to spur change in social norms to adequately respond to sexual violations. The campaign's key messages were drafted based on series of 11 workshops with women survivors. It is noteworthy to mention that, prior to the campaign, a nation-wide poll was conducted in order to ensure a credible campaign that is also relevant to the aspirations of the majority of the Lebanese people.

ABAAD's strategy combined advocacy, lobbying of stakeholders and sensitization of public opinion on the existing legal framework. Knowing the pattern of power distribution in dialogue settings, ABAAD set the foundations of dialogue and positive channels with community leaders, religious leaders, stakeholders, policy makers and the media. Therefore, throughout the process, ABAAD gained support from different religious institutions, members of parliaments, international and national civil society organizations and communities around the world.

On December 7 2016, Lebanon's Parliamentary Committee for Administration and Justice announced their recommendation to repeal Article 522, which generated positive feedback and the spread of supportive statements from all over the world. The awareness campaign grew rapidly and spread widely, with millions of people globally supporting the cause. The campaign resulted in a historical vote of the Lebanese parliament repealing article 522 on Thursday 16 June 2017!

About the Organization /Team

ABAAD is a UN ECOSOC accredited organization that aims to achieve gender equality as an essential condition to sustainable social and economic development in the MENA region. The dynamic team is comprised of dedicated activists, lawyers, consultants, social workers and researches, who creatively test new approaches as part of a larger effort to achieve an equitable society, free of hegemonic masculinities and violence against women. As a leading actor on gender equality in the region, ABAAD is perceived as a reliable reference and partner by the local, regional and international entities that promote gender equality, peacebuilding and sustainable development.
Project CategoryCampaigner
Realated SDGs
5 Gender Equality