Roqaya Mounzer, Lebanon’s latest victim of domestic violence

Roqaya Mounzer on her wedding day. (Photo: KAFA Facebook page)

Roqaya Mounzer on her wedding day. (Photo: KAFA Facebook page)

An article on a Lebanese woman killed in a domestic violence case, published in Al-Akhbar English in March 2014. 

A pregnant Lebanese woman was killed by her husband last week, in the country’s latest case of domestic violence, piling on the pressure for Lebanese politicians to pass a much-needed domestic violence law.

Roqaya Mounzer, 24, was shot in the chest by her husband in their home last Wednesday, Maya Ammar, a communications officer for Enough Violence and Exploitation (KAFA), a Lebanese non-governmental organization, told Al-Akhbar.

She was several weeks pregnant with her third child, Ammar said, and had recently asked her husband for a divorce.

Mounzer’s husband was arrested soon after the murder, and an investigation is currently under way.

“Roqaya got married at 17, and she suffered through seven years of marriage,” Ammar said. “Everyone knew he was a violent person.” She added that Mounzer’s body exhibited signs of repeated violence.

Mounzer’s sister, Zeina Mounzer, held a press conference on Tuesday with KAFA, an organization focused on fighting gender-based violence.

In an interview with LBC, Zeina said that Mounzer’s husband left her to die on the floor before her family could come in to save her.

Zeina added that he used to lock her sister inside the house when he was at work, and that he threatened to take custody of her children, a boy and a girl, every time she demanded a divorce.

In the press conference, Zeina said she chose to go public with Mounzer’s case to make sure her sister’s case was dealt with properly by authorities so as “not to kill her twice.”

The issue of domestic violence has been a growing concern in Lebanon since the death of Rola Yacoub in July. Numerous cases since then, including two in February which garnered a lot of media attention, have stirred calls for Lebanon to pass a domestic violence bill which has been lingering in parliament.

Manal al-Assi was killed in early February by her husband, who beat her to death with a pressure cooker. Ten days later, Christelle Abou Shakra was poisoned with insecticide, a death her family blamed on her abusive husband.

In January, Fatima al-Nashar was brutally beaten by her husband and in-laws while pregnant.

“We don’t need any more proof that women are the main victims of domestic violence,” Ammar said. “But we wait until women die to act about it.”

Momentum has built in favor of the domestic violence bill as more and more tragic stories make their way to the headlines. A demonstration in support of the bill brought together an estimated 4 thousand people in Beirut on March 8, marking International Women’s Day.

KAFA confirmed on Wednesday afternoon that Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri had put the bill on the parliamentary agenda for April 3.

“It will be hard for them to ignore us,” she said.

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