On November 25th, Kvinna till Kvinna’s Lebanese partner organization KAFA launched their 16 Days Media Campaign on “the Role of the Internal Security Forces (ISF) in Combating Family Violence” under the Violence Against Women project with ISF, at the ISF head quarter in Beirut. The event was attended by high ranking representatives from foreign missions and the UN, officials from Lebanese ministries, as well as the judicial, security, civil and media sectors in Lebanon.
The media campaign “We have a Mission, If you feel threatened, don’t hesitate to call” aims at rebuilding trust between women victims of violence and the ISF, and informing the public on the ISF’s ongoing preparations to provide women with the protection they need.
UNFPA and the Italian Embassy and Norwegian Embassy had also been significant supporters of the collaboration project with ISF, but KAFA especially pointed out the partnership with Kvinna till Kvinna as being very important for their work. Hearing leading officers of ISF, such as the acting General Director and several Generals, talking about how violence against women is damaging on so many levels of society and pledging to support KAFA’s work – by having the police force trained on adequate ways of protecting and responding to women who report violence and abuse – was most inspiring. Training certificates were also awarded to police officers who are currently training other ISF officers on the issue of family violence, and an air of pride and seriousness filled the hall.The entire police force will be carrying the white ribbon pin to prove their support of the campaign, and that they are approachable and prepared for women in need of help.
The campaign aims at rebuilding trust between women victims of violence and the ISF, and informing the public on the ISF’s ongoing preparations to provide women with the protection they need. In 2007 KAFA- who has a solid experience in dealing with survivors of gender based violence (GBV) from running counseling centers for abused women in Lebanon- started the hard work of drafting a law to protect women from violence from their families. Since then there it has been years of hard work of campaigning and lobbying to get the draft bill all the way to the parliament where it is now waiting for final approval or rejection. KAFA however realized that just having a law is not enough. Strong additional efforts are needed to make sure it will be implemented which led KAFA to start communicating with implementing authorities like the ISF and provide them with relevant training on how to support survivors of GBV and why domestic violence has a strong negative impact on the entire families and society at large. Zoya Rouhana, Director of KAFA, said to me with a smile; “it actually feels like our long work is finally starting to create real change”.
When I an hour later ran to catch the plane back to Amman, a Lebanese police officer guarding customs abruptly stopped me, said something and pointed at my jacket. I didn’t catch his words and got worried something was wrong, when he, with a proud smile, said “you and I support the same cause!”. He pointed at the white ribbon pin on my collar and then I saw it on his chest; KAFA’s white ribbon pin!
Alexandra Karlsdotter Stenström
Field Representative , Lebanon