ABSTRACT

Translating violence against women: a framework The Lebanese state, violence against women, and the campaigns to

eliminate violence against women Filters of translation: culture of violence, family honor, and family

cohesion Conclusion

The Beijing Platform for Action (1995), the Declaration to Eliminate Violence Against Women (1993), and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) (1979) have established international norms for combating violence against women. Countries around the world are applying these international norms within very different national contexts. Lebanon, a country reeling from civil unrest and characterized by a complex socio-political system based on confessional divisions, is one of the countries that has taken up the battle. This paper traces what happens to an international norm as it transcends boundaries to be enacted in a local environment. Is this norm simply transposed and faithfully implemented into local laws and society? Or is it translated and filtered in a way that changes the norm? What are the mechanisms at play in the process of implementation and what social filters operate in the translation of norms? I trace the implementation of the international norm by exploring

Lebanese campaigns on violence against women. CEDAWdoes not provide an explicit definition for violence against women; however, general recommendation 19 put forth by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women has recognized that “gender based violence against women is violence that is directed against awoman because she is a woman, or violence that affects women disproportionately. It includes acts that inflict physical, mental or sexual harm or suffering, threats of such acts, coercion and other deprivations of liberty.”1

Accordingly the committee agrees this definition is tacitly covered under article 1 CEDAW. In Lebanon, violence against women is found within the purview of the state, in society, and in civil confessional legal systems. Most activism targets the issue of violence against women within the

context of family. This is a particularly burning issue because of the communal social organization of Lebanon and because of the absence of legal protection for women within the family. There are no accurate statistics on domestic violence; however, research indicates that the problem is widespread, and estimates suggest that up to 30 percent of homes have experienced some form of domestic violence.2