Ending Violence is in Our Hand: ABAAD’s Efforts in Lebanon and Beyond
By Lina Abirafeh, PhD
Gender-Based Violence in Emergencies Specialist and ABAAD Advisory Board Member
Globally, one in three females are affected by gender-based violence (GBV) – rape, domestic violence, and other forms. This affects every country – and it is the responsibility of men and women alike to stand together to end this abuse at last. In Lebanon and in the region, gender-based violence not only persists, but also increases in times of crises and insecurity.
It is in these challenging circumstances that ABAAD is operating. ABAAD, the Resource Center for Gender Equality, is a non-profit, non-political, 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 is comprised of a dynamic team of activists, lawyers, psychotherapists, social workers, and researchers. As such, it is the leading resource center on gender equality and GBV in the region.
ABAAD seeks to promote women’s equality and participation through policy development, legal reform, gender mainstreaming, engaging men, eliminating discrimination, and advancing and empowering women to participate effectively and fully in their communities.
ABAAD means Dimensions in Arabic – because ending violence against women, poverty and inequalities in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region requires working across many dimensions.
ABAAD creates new dimensions where women and men live as equal partners and women are empowered and participate in everything that affects their lives and their communities. The organization promotes equal access to assets, resources, and opportunities and takes a strong stand against all forms of violence and discrimination. ABAAD embraces a philosophy of freedom, dignity, and peace. Concretely, ABAAD promotes gender equality through gender mainstreaming and advancing women’s interests, and using innovative and positive approaches to engage men in support of positive masculinities and against violence.
Today, the situation in Lebanon is severe. The country has suffered conflict for decades – most recently due to the crisis in Syria. 25% of Lebanon is refugees – Syrian, Palestinian, Iraqi. 80% of these refugees are women and children. All of these communities, along with Lebanese, are facing severe hardship. Conditions continue to deteriorate – and as a result, violence against women is increasing.
To address this serious concern, ABAAD established three safe houses in 2013. These houses provide shelter for women and children in life-threatening situations and a space to receive care and support. These critical spaces – Al Dar – are the only ones of their kind, and must be maintained. See the animation and brochure to learn more:
Al Dar is the only program of its kind in the country. The three spaces are in areas that are underserved and very much in need. The space includes the house as well as the land – a large property that houses up to 25 women survivors of GBV and their children at a time. Each year, more than 300 women and children are given specialized care and support in this center. Not only does it provide shelter and safe spaces, it also ensures that women have access to critical life-saving programs.
Given the high demand for this type of support, ABAAD launched their Solidarity Campaign in order to raise awareness and generate funding for expansion of Al Dar. Funding is directly used for support and recovery for vulnerable women – psychosocial support, legal aid, individual and group therapy, and economic empowerment. Women in this center – and many others – will then be better able to rebuild their lives and support themselves and their families.
Additionally, ABAAD plans to hire additional staff for Al Dar in order to expand services for each of the three spaces. This includes:
- Additional experts in psychosocial and mental health care
- Increased representation of women in the courts and support through their judicial cases
- Additional healthcare professionals
- Expanded vocational training – giving women essential skills so they can move out of the center with their children and start new lives free from violence
- Further equipping specialized child friendly spaces
To achieve these critical goals, ABAAD partnered with Brazilian jewelry designer Marzio Fiorini to an innovative campaign. Marzio Fiorini is a self-taught Brazilian jewelry designer with a vibrant world style. He designs high-quality fashionable eco-friendly jewelry using recycled rubber. His jewelry is art – worn by celebrities and displayed in museums of contemporary art worldwide.
Marzio Fiorini is both an artist and a social activist. In collaboration with famous Arabic calligrapher Karim Kanj, Marzio Fiorini created an exclusive unisex bracelet for ABAAD’s campaign, written in Arabic calligraphy that says “ENDING VIOLENCE IS IN YOUR HAND”.
Mr. Fiorini came to Lebanon in March for the launch of the Solidarity campaign and to show his support.
Images of the launch can be seen here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.893347840723262.1073741908.192450177479702&type=3
He has committed to raising awareness and funding to continue his support to ABAAD – to enable the organization to expand its services to vulnerable women and children. The ABAAD Solidarity Bracelet is being worn worldwide and is currently for sale through ABAAD. Contact ABAAD through Facebook – or email email@example.com to join this campaign and show your support!
We look forward to having you with us to achieve these important goals. Together we can build a community where dimensions of non-violence and dignity are a reality.
ABAAD – Resource Center for Gender Equality
Furn Chebbak, Sector 5, 51 Bustani Street, Najjar Building, Ground Floor
PO Box: 50-048 Beirut, Lebanon
Tel\Fax: +961 (1) 28 38 20 ; +961 (1) 28 38 21