My first encounter with KAFA was in a pub in Gemmayzeh two years ago. I met two very passionate and enthusiastic activists for a cause I and many others are not aware of (or at least not enough).
KAFA is an NGO with a mission to eradicate gender violence against women in Lebanon. KAFA also works on protecting children from physical and sexual abuse. Here’s their mission statement to read up more on the history and specific goals of the organization.
I was blessed to grow up in a society where gender discrimination was never a problem, where violence against a women was never an issue and where incongruity when it comes to protection by law was dependent on what kind of gonads you possessed. Unfortunately, I have come to realize that this isn’t always true where I live and come from, even though I always knew in other parts of the country, women weren’t so lucky. I have also come to realize that the transgressions against wives, daughters and foreign women trafficked into Lebanon is much worse than I’d ever expected.
Since then, KAFA has been busy with tackling violence against women and children on several frontiers and aspects. From providing food and shelter to battered women who flee their homes, spreading awareness and tough messages, to workshops and clinics that help violent men control their rage and spare their wives and children, KAFA has been successful in bringing this often taboo topic out to the open.
Apart from providing direct assistance to victims of abuse, KAFA drafted a proposal back in 2007 that would ensure the safety, by law, of women in Lebanon from domestic violence. Archaic and frankly stupid religious and traditional customs often govern relationships between men and women, which may sometimes overlap with basic human rights any person enjoys. This is why legal action needs to be taken, and KAFA was there to deliver.
A grueling two years of lobbying and activism led to the approval of the draft law by the Lebanese Cabinet on Aprli 6th, 2010. It now awaits approval by the Lebanese Parliament, which we are confident will vote for and ratify.
This is a huge stride towards mending laws and creating new ones that will help eradicate gender violence and inequality in Lebanon. Lebanon is a country that enjoys its openness and freedoms, and it shames us all that religious books and folk tales that date back thousands of years influence the Lebanese judiciary when it comes to the rights of women. It is also unfortunate that such a vital law was written as late as 2007, took another two years to pass through government, and still needs time to be ratified by parliament.
Policy makers of the past should be ashamed of themselves, and today’s politicians need to act faster and more effectively. We also hope that after this law is passed, it will be imposed by our security forces and that it will be embraced by all members of the society. After all, as the gruesome posters at the top and bottom of this post indicate, not coming out with the truth and hiding it to avoid ‘public humiliation’ is something we have yet to rectify…
KAFA’s FB Page