Legal Action is fully funded and supported by LAW; using creative legal strategies to increase access to justice for women and girls, and those who have been subjected to sexual and gender-based violence. These strategies are implemented through a combination of legal aid and empowerment, strategic litigation and targeted legal advocacy. In 2019 Legal Action opened an office in Beirut and is now providing legal assistance and representation from Beirut and four field offices in Alay, Burj Hammoud, Tripoli and Akkar.
Legal Action’s legal aid lawyers work closely with international lawyers in LAW’s network to develop innovative legal strategies designed to increase access to justice for survivors of sexual violence, people who are stateless, and others who have suffered egregious human rights violations and abuses.
Gender inequality in Lebanon is particularly stark. According to 2017 the Gender Gap Index, Lebanon ranks fifth to last in the Middle East and North Africa region (ranked at 137), behind only Saudi Arabia, Iran, Syria and Yemen. Since 2010, Lebanon has seen a consistent decline in its global index rank. LAW’s work on Lebanon is focused on legal aid and empowerment of women, including Lebanese women, women from the Syrian and Palestinian refugee communities, and female domestic workers.
Sexual and gender-based violence is prevalent in Lebanon. Members of the refugee population and domestic workers are particularly at risk. Accessing the Lebanese court system can be difficult for many survivors of sexual and gender-based violence, but refugees and domestic workers face numerous additional obstacles in the pursuit of justice. Many are unaware of their rights or options for redress. The legal system can be daunting and expensive. Legal Action will help survivors of sexual and gender-based violence to overcome these obstacles by providing pro bono legal services, as well as by working to change unfair laws and practices through legal advocacy and strategic litigation.
Many children born in Lebanon, both Lebanese and Syrian, are stateless. The process of registering the birth of a child in Lebanon is complicated for everyone, but the process of registering a Syrian child is particularly confusing. If the birth of the child is not registered, he or she will be unable to access many of their basic rights. Legal Action is addressing this by providing pro bono legal assistance to parents – whether Lebanese, Syrian or form somewhere else – to enable them to apply for late registration of their child’s birth so that the child will not be stateless.
Legal Action Projects
LAW has been conducting discussions and scoping exercises to determine how our innovative approach to increasing access to justice could fill gaps in law, practice and policy in Lebanon for almost two years. These scoping exercises identified of two exciting projects:
- Legal aid and assistance for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence, and other human rights violations for Syrian refugee and Lebanese host communities;
- Using Strategic Litigation to increase access to justice for sexual and gender-based violence.