ABAAD’s ’A White Dress Doesn’t Cover the Rape’ won the UN SDG Award for the most impactful campaign globally. The Award was received by Ms. Ghida Anani, Founder & Director of ABAAD, during a ceremony held in Bonn, Germany.
Anani stated: ‘’We at ABAAD are proud of this award as it first of all honors women survivors of rape who raised their voices, together with ABAAD, throughout the different stages of this campaign to raise awareness and give other women the strength to move forward’’. Efforts made during the campaign, which was launched in 2016, led to the repeal of Article 522 from the Lebanese Penal Code, which exonerated perpetrators if they married their victim. ‘’This campaign, which was launched at a local and global level, was a major deterrent in the face of rapists in Lebanon and, most importantly, it was an important step to reduce the ''victim blaming'' attitude and to shift the debate to its main focus which says that rape is a criminal act and all rapists must be punished’’, stated Anani adding: ''This is the goal of our campaigns as women's and feminist organizations in the Arab world; first changing mindsets and behaviors and then changing laws to bring justice for all women living in our countries’’.
The Campaign followed a threefold strategy: 1) dialogue with political stakeholders 2) advocacy based on evidence 3) public opinion campaign. The strategy combined advocacy, lobbying of stakeholders and sensitization of public opinion on the existing legal framework. A wide range of stakeholders we're involved. The campaign's key messages were drafted based on series of 11 workshops with women survivors. The visual aspects of the campaign played a crucial role in addressing the problem. The campaign organized a series of "shock" actions to convey, in creative ways, the idea that forcing a woman or girl to marry her rapist meant sentencing her to lifelong rape.
ABAAD is a non-profit, non-politically affiliated, non-religious civil association that aims to achieve gender equality as an essential condition to sustainable social and economic development in the MENA region. ABAAD seeks to promote equality through policy development, legal reform, gender mainstreaming, engaging men, eliminating discrimination, and advancing and empowering women to participate effectively and fully in their communities.
Article 522 from the Lebanese Penal Code stated: "If a valid contract of marriage is made between the perpetrator of any of the offenses mentioned in this section, and the victim, the prosecution is suspended. If judgment was already passed, the implementation of the punishment is suspended.
Despite the repeal of Article 522, which was a major success, ABAAD continues to work on the judicial and social-behavioral levels through political advocacy as well as public awareness-raising and prevention programs to address the structural barriers and social stigma being inflicted on rape victims. The latest of these efforts, is ABAAD' nation-wide campaign titled #ShameOnWho that calls for increased sentences on rape perpetrators and for a shift in social norms that forces victims to marry their perpetrators.
It is noteworthy to mention that ABAAD’s ‘’A White Dress Doesn’t Cover the Rape’’ Campaign was selected as one of the top 3 finalists among 2000 applicants representing 142 countries from all over the world.
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