Systematic efforts needed to stamp out sexual harassment
Visible campaigns such as these are a commendable first step to operationalising Law 205. Conducted jointly by the police and local community groups, they send a powerful message that sexual harassment will not be tolerated, while offering actionable guidance on what to do if an incident occurs.
For greater effect, Siren’s Women, Peace and Security focused programming is ensuring that these campaigns are part of more comprehensive efforts to advance UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (the WPS Agenda). Doing so will empower security agencies to systematically tackle sexual harassment in a gender sensitive manner, while advancing gender equality.
The need for this is real. One ISF officer on the Corniche told local media that women come to the ISF “all the time” complaining about sexual harassment, but that many refuse to file a complaint at the station because the process takes time and “the matter is over.”
Other barriers to reporting are also present in the wider security and justice sectors. The International Commission of Jurists has identified, for example, that more gender-sensitive investigations would help reduce impediments to women’s access to justice for sexual and gender-based violence. It has also highlighted the need to enhance justice actors’ capacity, logistics and resources so that women can enjoy their full right to access justice, and the need to tackle the prevalence of gender stereotypes and discriminatory attitudes among judicial officials.
Advancing the WPS Agenda in Lebanon
Gender audits are a pivotal starting point for a comprehensive approach to advancing the WPS Agenda and tackling sexual harassment. These audits assess the degree to which a security agency’s operational and organisational activities contribute to ending all forms of discrimination against women and girls, and systematically promote the full and meaningful participation of women at all levels. Once the audit process is complete, agencies can address the areas identified for improvement. Siren is currently supporting the ISF and General Security to conduct gender audits, with funding from the United Nations Development Programme.
Promoting the use of data and analysis in policing is another enabler of a more systematic approach to stamping out gender-based violence and sexual harassment. Through the British Policing Support Programme, Siren is supporting the ISF’s Analysis and Planning Teams to produce strategic threat assessments concerning violence against women and girls. Promoting the involvement of women analysts is central to this. The insights from these analytical products will inform ISF commanders on how to address priority issues that endanger the safety of women and girls, and enable them to develop operational plans and deploy resources accordingly.
Siren is in parallel supporting the ISF to identify areas where tangible improvements are feasible in the current context. Part of this involves mapping the domestic violence response landscape and the ISF’s role in it. Our ongoing research in this area will enable the ISF to better close the gaps in implementing Law 293, which protects women and family members against domestic violence.
*Rebecca Dykes, known as Becky, was a humanitarian worker who was violently raped and murdered by a cab driver after a night out in Beirut. Becky’s Button emerged because of this violent incident, which highlighted the need to protect the safety of women and girls.