Text and photos: Ann Wilkens Research: Lovisa Strand Layout: Louise Bååth King Island Design Cover-photo: Anna Levin Girl in Rafah (Gaza) PDF

Report from a Field Trip in Lebanon March 7-17, 2010 Text and photos: Ann Wilkens Research: Lovisa Strand Layout: Louise Bååth King Island Design Cover-photo: Anna Levin Girl in Rafah (Gaza) The

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Report from a Field Trip in Lebanon March 7-17, 2010 Text and photos: Ann Wilkens Research: Lovisa Strand Layout: Louise Bååth King Island Design Cover-photo: Anna Levin Girl in Rafah (Gaza) The Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation Report 2010 Content I. Background 07 II. Previous research, methodological difficulties 08 III. Report from the Field Trip 10 III.1 Political and socio-economic background factors 10 III.2 Observations made during the interviews, sorted into phases 11 III.2.1 Links to domestic violence or other trends in the situation of women in the pre-conflict phase 11 III.2.2 During conflict 11 III.2.3 Post-conflict 12 III.2.4 Circular conflicts 13 III.3 Observations made during the interviews, sorted into themes 14 III.3.1 Reasons for domestic violence 15 III.3.2 Gender-specific exposure of women during conflict 15 III.3.3 Effects of the patriarchal system aggravating the situation of women during conflict 15 III.3.4 Acccess to weapons as a factor aggravating domestic violence 16 III.3.5 Women s participation in conflict resolution 16 IV. Conclusions 18 List of organisations and institutions interviewed 19 Questions 21 Bibliography 22 The Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation s project manager was Eva Zillén. The field work was carried out, on a consultancy basis, by Ann Wilkens and Lovisa Strand. In Lebanon they were assisted by Nour Shoukeh and Sara Khalil Fathallah. June Report The Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation 3 Wiring in Bourj al-barajneh. Bouthaina Saad, Najdeh 4 The Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation Report 2010 Traces of war in Beirut. Walking home in Bourj al-barajneh. Conflicts in Lebanon Having been part of the French mandate of Syria since 1920, Lebanon gained its independence in When Israel was created in 1948, the first influx of Palestinian refugees formed some of the refugee camps which are still in existence. After the Arab-Israeli war in 1967, the Palestinian guerilla forces were expelled from Jordan and added to the population of these refugee camps. During the 1970s, tensions between different population groups increased and in 1975, a civil war broke out, lasting until The conflict was compounded when, in 1982, Israel invaded the Southern part of Lebanon and Beirut was put under siege. A second round of instability was initiated by the murder, in 2005, of Rafic Hariri, a prominent businessman and political leader who had headed several cabinets since the beginning of the 1990s. A year later an armed conflict, in Lebanon known as the July War, between Israel military and the Lebanese paramilitary force Hizbollah, began Report The Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation 5 Laura Sfeir, LECORVAW Port in Saida. 6 The Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation Report 2010 Palestinian kindergarten. I. Background The Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation is interested in exploring the interface between gender and conflict issues and wants to highlight the potential of women s participation in conflict resolution and peace building. It is our conviction that sustainable peace cannot be achieved unless women are included in the process on an equal basis with men. The problems related to peace building processes, as perceived through the eyes of women they directly affect, can also be important indicators of areas that have to be taken into account if such processes are to be successful in the long term. At international level, recognition of the role of women in the peace and security agenda has grown and been endorsed in a number of resolutions from the United Nations Security Council, notably res of October 31, 2000 and res of July 23, One question to be explored is the extent to which this recognition on an international policy level is actually trickling down to conflict areas on the ground and concretized into relevant action. Against this background, having examined the existing literature on the links between domestic violence and various phases of armed conflict, Lebanon was chosen as the target for a pilot study to further explore these interconnections. Lebanon is a country that has undergone several armed conflicts in recent times, ranging from civil war to invasion by external forces. It is also situated in a region in which the Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation is active. Kvinna till Kvinna has six partner organisations in Lebanon, two of which focus on Palestinian refugees. These partner organisations, and a number of other relevant organisations, were interviewed during a field trip on March 7-17, 2010 (a complete list and short presentation of the organisations interviewed is enclosed, page 19). The questions explored centred around the links between different phases of the conflicts in which Lebanon has been involved, and the prevalence of violence against women; actions which could influence the situation and serve to alleviate the problem; and the extent to which the knowledge gathered by the organisations had been tapped by political actors dealing with conflict resolution and peace building (a list of core questions as distributed ahead of the interviews is enclosed, page 21). v 2010 Report The Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation 7 II. Previous research, methodological difficulties The relationship between domestic violence and armed conflict is difficult to explore for many reasons. For one, domestic violence alone is a sensitive issue, difficult to explore. If at all recognised, it tends to be surrounded by silence. Neither victims, nor perpetrators want to talk about it and victims will refrain from seeking help until the situation has become unbearable or life-threatening and sometimes not even then. In some societies, the culture of silence surrounding domestic violence is backed up by a patriarchal system that places the man at the centre of the family, in charge of other family members. In line with this, it may be further endorsed by a legal system, which regards domestic violence as a family affair, beyond the scope of the judiciary. Still, in some cases, the culture of silence will be broken; but even then, measuring and mapping domestic violence remains a difficult proposition, requiring a multidisciplinary approach, a high level of confidence between interviewers and interviewees, as well as agreed parameters which do not yet exist. The link between domestic violence and armed conflict is even more complicated, as armed conflict tends to absorb all other problems in society. In times of warfare, structures needed to cope with problems such as domestic violence will have broken down. And even if attempts can, in fact, be made to record domestic violence during or after conflict, there will be no data from peaceful times to compare with. Thus, it will be difficult to know whether the violence increased at all, as well as if an increase can still be presumed whether it is tied to the conflict or would have occurred anyway. Baseline statistics are needed in order to follow developments. To do this in a scientifically acceptable way is a challenge requiring urgent attention. Nevertheless, the notion that domestic violence increases during and post conflict is widely accepted. In a UNIFEM report in 2002, Elisabet Rehn and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf refer to this phenomenon as a fact 1. The conclusion relies on two surveys conducted in Phnom Penh in 1994 and 1996 respectively 2. However, none of these studies go beyond suggesting that domestic violence increases in times of conflict there is no proof. Still, the statement by Rehn and Johnson Sirleaf has taken on the dimensions of established truth and is often quoted in the following literature on the subject. One reason why the notion has become accepted is probably that it is quite reasonable. It is not difficult to subscribe to the idea that violence in the surrounding society spills over into the homes of people. It is also supported by a study conducted in Kosovo, indicating that 44 per cent of 213 women interviewed had experienced domestic violence for the first time during the height of the conflict in 1998 and During post-conflict periods, it is an accepted notion that violence moves home, which is also supported by the Kosovo study and here, the link seems to be even stronger. But again, there are no facts and figures to back this up. Existing studies conclude that the link may exist but stop short of establishing it. In the absence of hard facts, there are different ways of exploring this terrain further, horizontally or vertically, e.g. through interviewing organisations working on the ground with problems related to the intersection of domestic violence and armed conflict (as we are doing in this study) or through conducting in-depth interviews with women in areas affected by armed conflict. However, the sensitivity of the subject will remain a problem to be dealt with. In a report 1. Rehn, E. & Johnson Sirleaf, E., Byrne, B, Marcus, R. & Powers-Stevens, T., 7. See also Rehn, E. & Johnson Sirleaf, E., endnotes ch.1, note Wareham, R., 37 8 The Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation Report 2010 on the Israel-Palestine conflict, women were asked questions relating both to political violence and to domestic violence and sexual abuse 4. While they had no problems answering the questions on political violence, they remained reluctant to go into the domestic sphere. This corroborates another finding from the Middle East context that domestic violence is likely to be kept private, whereas violence associated with the conflict may be widely discussed 5. In one recent survey conducted in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a link was established between rape perpetrated as an instrument of warfare and a following increase in the prevalence of rape in the civilian context 6. The phenomenon is termed civilian adoption of rape, i.e. civilians adapt their ways of executing personal power to those used by soldiers in a war situation. Against this background, in order to develop the study of links between armed conflict and domestic violence, to take it from the realm of assumptions to more solid ground, a first step would be to establish violence as a crime, regardless of whether it is carried out in the private or the public sphere and regardless of whether the victim is a man, woman or child. In Lebanon, efforts are being made to pass a law on violence against women, which would go a long way towards meeting these objectives. These efforts, however, have been hampered by the political instability 7, as well as by the complicated structure of separate family legislation for 18 different sects 8. In Lebanon, it was also quite clear that the patriarchal system is an important factor behind the prevalence of domestic violence primarily in the sense that it disempowers women in various ways. Disempowered women have difficulty asserting their individual rights and, in a patriarchal system, are not used to dealing with institutions outside of the family context. They will tend to accept the limits put on their existence and even limit themselves where no boundaries exist 9. The trend of rising religious fundamentalism affecting i.a. the Palestinian population tends to make things even worse. While neither patriarchy nor religious extremism is per se a threat to the physical integrity of women on the contrary, the respect for women is a seminal notion in both phenomena they are both oppressive in the sense that women are limited, both geographically (to homes) and psychologically (to the functions of wives and mothers). For women to remain secure, they have to accept the rules of the game. When they cease to submit, they may encounter violence 10. In this way, macro-politics inevitably enter into women s homes. In the Middle East, the long-standing political and military conflicts coupled with a perceived lack of interest in solving them on the part of the powerful Western world, seen as siding with the enemy, contribute to the acceptance and expansion of fundamentalist thinking, rejecting modernity and concepts such as gender equality as expressions of cultural imperialism. In this context, a Swedish NGO approaching the link between domestic violence and armed conflict could easily be interpreted as yet another plot in the context of Western conspiracy. In practice, however, we encountered no such difficulties on the level deemed to be accessible to us, i.e. casting light on the subject through interviews with organisations dealing with it at grassroot level. Within these restrictions, compounded by the fact that the number of organisations dealing with domestic violence in Lebanon is limited, the purpose of this study is to take the presumed link between domestic violence and the different phases of conflict one small step further towards corroboration through experiences reported in a conflict-ridden country. We are still dealing mostly with impressions and assumptions, but a coherent pattern is visible throughout most of the interviews. According to this pattern, in spite of the sharp division between private and public spheres, there is interaction between armed conflict in the surrounding society and violence towards women in their homes. While the pattern during the acute phase of a conflict is mixed, the post-conflict phase is definitely problem-ridden in a way that spills over into the homes. Sadly, however, there was nothing to report in terms of one important conclusion to be drawn from that interaction, i.e. that women have to be part and parcel of efforts towards conflict resolution and peacebuilding. The reason for this conclusion is not primarily related to gender justice but to instrumentality: If women are involved, if their perspectives are taken into account, conflict resolution will improve. Even intractable conflicts, such as the one besetting the Middle East, could come closer to a sustainable and lasting solution. The world cannot afford to overlook the chance offered by a more holistic approach in this regard. 4. Sachs,D., Sa ar, A., & Aharoni, S., Usta, J., Farver, J.A.M., & Zein, L, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative Report, April 2010, See pt. III.2.2, page 11 in the report. 8. See pt.iii.1, page 10 and III.3.5 page 18 in the report. 9. See pt. III.3.3, page 15 in the report. 10. See pt. III.3.1, page 15 in the report Report The Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation 9 III. Report from the Field Trip III.1 Political and socio-economic background factors Lebanon is strategically situated on the crossroads between East and West, a location which has turned the country into an important trading centre but also exposed it to the political hazards of unresolved problems in the Middle East region. Throughout history, the ancient Phoenician civilization has been influenced by most of the world s dominant cultures, turning Lebanon into a cultural melting pot but, at the same time, making it extremely sensitive to demographic balance. After World War I, it became part of the French mandate of Syria and when it gained independence in 1943, a power-sharing mechanism based on confessionalism was introduced, according to which the President should be a Maronite Christian, the Speaker of the Parliament a Shiite Muslim, the Prime Minister a Sunni Muslim and the Deputy Speaker a Greek Orthodox. Adding to the complications of this delicate balance between different population groups, Lebanon is also host to recurrent influx of refugees, notably Palestinians and Iraqis. This overall situation has been one of the factors behind internal armed conflicts, such as the long and brutal civil war between 1975 and 1990, and has increased Lebanon s vulnerability to the regional conflict besetting the Middle East since the creation of the state of Israel in Most recently, in the summer of 2006, a war between Israel and Hezbollah broke out which lasted for a little over a month. In the absence of a sustainable conflict resolution, another outbreak of armed violence between Israel and Lebanon/Hezbollah, on Lebanese territory, was not excluded during the period when the interviews were carried out. For the purpose of this study, one relevant aspect of the political and demographic situation concerns the division of the Lebanese population into 18 different religious sects. Each of these sects has a separate Personal Status Law regulating family matters. Introducing changes into this system is extremely complicated. The demographic complexity is also one of the factors contributing to the lack of integration into the Lebanese society by the Palestinian refugees. In spite of generations of residence in the country, the Palestinians, now numbering more than 400,000, the bulk of whom arrived already in 1948, have never been accepted as citizens. Thereby, they are kept out of essential social services, as well as being barred from a great number of professions. The refugee camps in which around half of them still live may not be separated by fences and check points, but their environment is still secluded, physically as well as mentally. 10 The Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation Report 2010 III.2 Observations made during the interviews, sorted into phases III.2.1 Links to domestic violence or other trends in the situation of women in the pre-conflict phase As one interlocutor remarked, in the case of Lebanon, it has not been quite clear what constitutes a pre-conflict phase. Conflicts have been so recurrent that their phases pre-conflict, during conflict, post-conflict are blurred. In reality, post-conflict phases may, in fact, turn out to be pre-conflict. People have lived with conflict, in one form or the other, for more than 30 years, i.e. the life-span of a generation. Another aspect characterising Lebanon s volatile political climate is the speed with which a conflict can develop. Talking about the eruption of violence in the Palestinian camp Nahr al-bared outside Tripoli in May 2007, Ms. Zeina Mezher of the National Commission for Lebanese Women (NCLW), remarked that it took only a few days for a full-fledged conflict to have developed, in spite of the fact that Nahr al-bared had been an established, stable camp where people ran their own shops and trade companies. If anything, the pre-conflict phase was a state of shock that things could unravel so fast. She dismissed the notion of a surge in domestic violence as an early warning sign of conflict as silly, a Hollywood idea. Other organisations agreed that no particular pattern could be tied to the pre-conflict phase. Ms. Olfat Mahmoud of the Palestinian Women s Humanitarian Organisation (PWHO), however, added that increased tension could be palpably felt before the eruption of conflict and could affect women, i.a. in the sense that they start thinking about storing food and other necessities. The wife has to shop for war but resources are limited and when she asks for money, her husband sees her as nagging. But she carries the responsibility for the survival of her family, and seeing her husband or son prepare for war also adds to her anguish. III during conflict... Our interlocutors defined a number of ways in which women are affected during the acute phase of a conflict, some of them related to violence. Generally, harassment and abuse of women were deemed to increase during conflict, including domestic violence. Men might feel increased stress and tension from the war situation and know no other way of channelling this than taking it out on the women surrounding them. In other cases, men would take to the field in order to participate in the fighting, leaving women and children without protection and exposed to harassment from other men, e.g. fighters roaming around in the streets of Palestinian refugee camps. Another problem would be that, even in acute situations, women would be reluctant to go to shelters without their husbands. During the Israeli bombardment of Southern Lebanon in summer 2006, women were not allowed to make the decision to leave home on their own, even when husbands were away, resulting in some families sustaining unnecessary psychol
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