As part of a series of university debates, the Delegation of the European Union to Lebanon, in cooperation with Haigazian University, organized a conference on the topic of “Gender Based Violence”, on May 23, 2014, in the University Auditorium.
The debate tackled several aspects of this severe form of inequality from a human rights, as well as women’s rights perspective.
Students, faculty, staff and the wider public engaged in discussions with Lebanese officials, public institutions representatives, Ambassadors of EU Member States, academics, as well as NGOs and civil society members.
In his welcoming address, Haigazian University President, Rev. Dr. Paul Haidostian, introduced the topic of “Gender Based Violence”; a topic that is related to basically every individual in every place, at all times, that is, an aspect of human dignity. The President also took the opportunity to thank the EU Delegation in Lebanon for reaching out to our society.
H.E. Mrs. Angelina Eichhorst – Head of the EU Delegation to Lebanon, stated that it is important to hear everybody and that is what EU stands for, inviting the Lebanese youth to engage in discussion and dialogue. She also expressed her gratitude for the good cooperation between Haigazian University and the EU, declaring that she looks forward to strengthen it.
The moderator of the conference, Mrs. Shaghig Hudavertian, an Instructor in Psychology at Haigazian University, briefly defined the term gender based violence, and stated the importance of the question of equality, which is a major issue today leading to various forms of physical and sexual violence, taking place in Europe, Lebanon and elsewhere.
The first panelist of the conference Mr. Renaud Detalle, Deputy Regional Representative of the Office of the High Commission for Human Rights, stated that the conventional elimination of all forms of discrimination against women is necessary, and the United Nations considers the latest law of domestic violence adopted by the male dominated Lebanese Parliament as a very positive legal development. He congratulated all, and stated that the UN will remain involved in the process of implementing gender based equality.
Ms. Zoya Rouhana, Director of KAFA (enough Violence and Exploitation), affirmed that countering the exploitation of women and children and all kinds of violence based on gender is necessary. Being a vehement supporter of women’s and children’s rights, Ms. Rouhana said that there is a great need to enact new laws, amend and implement new policies to expandthe methods of the protection of women.
Judge Ghaleb Ghanem, Former President of the Supreme Court in Lebanon, further discussed the topic of gender based violence, stating that he has devoted much effort in the drafting and editing of the domestic violence law passed by the Lebanese parliament. Ghanem considered this law as a big step forward in protecting women, and advancing their rights and safety.
Member of Parliament, Mr. Ghassan Moukhaiber, expressed how he has always been keen about the topic of equality between the two genders. Moukhaiber went on saying; passing the new law of domestic violence was a challenge, but the bigger challenge is implementing it. He believes that it is important to explain and elaborate the different elements of the law in order to have effective protection of women.
Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, H.E. Hester Somsen concluded the discussions by highlighting the low representation of women in Lebanese politics and the labor market (2% and 22% respectively). She viewed the topic of gender based violence correlated with the status of women in the society.
The conference was concluded with an interactive Q&A session, giving the audience the opportunity to address the experts directly.
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