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Parliament passes Law No. 205 to criminalize sexual harassment and for the rehabilitation of its victims

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

قانون رقم 205 يرمي إلى تجريم التحرّش الجنسي وتأهيل ضحاياه 


Lebanon’s Parliament has endorsed a landmark law criminalising sexual harassment that could see the most flagrant perpetrators spend up to four years in prison and pay fines up to 50 times the minimum wage. In addition to punishing the perpetrators, the law affords protection to both the victims and any witnesses who testify against the accused. It also creates a specialised fund at the Social Affairs Ministry tasked with offering support and rehabilitation to victims and raising awareness about sexual harassment, and explicitly gives victims to right to seek compensation. Danielle Hoyek, a lawyer with gender equality organisation ABAAD, said it was one of the best laws of its kind in the region due to its broad scope and the wide definition of sexual harassment, defined as “any recurring bad behaviour that is out of the ordinary, unwanted by the victim, with a sexual connotation that constitutes a violation of the body, privacy, or feelings”. The harassment can occur “through words, actions, signals or sexual or pornographic hints” and also includes harassment by electronic means. In case force or pressure is used by a perpetrator for sexual gains, the harassment does not need to be recurring for it to fall under the law.

Glaring barriers to equality still remain in Lebanon, including the fact that women are barred from passing on their nationality. Marital rape also remains legal, while hundreds of thousands of mostly non-Lebanese female domestic workers are explicitly excluded from the most basic protections under the labour law.

Under the new sexual harassment law, the lowest sentences range between one month and one year and/or fine between three and 10 times the minimum wage, currently 675,000 Lebanese pounds per month. That equates to nearly $450 at the official government exchange rate, or about $80 at the market rate used for the purchase of mostly non-essential goods. The punishment increases to between six months and two years in prison and a fine of between 10 and 20 times the minimum wage if there is a “relationship of dependency” or work between the perpetrator and the victim; if the perpetrator uses their position of power over a colleague; or if the harassment occurs at a range of state institutions, universities, schools or on transport services. The harshest penalties, between two and four years in prison and a fine of between 30 and 50 times the minimum wage, are reserved for perpetrators who have “material or moral” power over the victim; if the victim is physically disabled or otherwise incapable of defending themselves; if the harassment is committed by two people or more; and if the perpetrators exert severe material, moral or mental pressure to receive sexual favours.


Acting Bodies: 
Lebanese Parliament
Social rights (women’s rights, human rights...)
Approved/ Ratified
Civil Society Response: