Lebanon’s new sexual harassment law falls short of international standards by addressing sexual harassment solely as a crime and neglecting prevention, labor law reforms, monitoring, and civil remedies, Human Rights Watch said today in advance of International Women’s Day on March 8, 2021. The Lebanese government should adopt a comprehensive approach, including by ratifying and implementing the International Labour Organization (ILO) Violence and Harassment Convention.

On December 21, 2020, Lebanon passed the “Law to Criminalize Sexual Harassment and [for] Rehabilitation of Its Victims.” The law is an advance by making sexual harassment a crime and outlining whistleblower protections. However, it falls short of the Violence and Harassment Convention, which says that governments should address violence and harassment at work through an “inclusive, integrated and gender-responsive approach,” including through labor laws, occupational safety and health laws, and equality and nondiscrimination laws, in addition to criminal law.

“Making sexual harassment a crime is an important step to condemn abusive behavior that has long been tolerated and normalized in Lebanon, but it’s not enough,” said Nisha Varia, women’s rights advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. “Public information campaigns, mandatory requirements for employers to prevent and respond to sexual harassment, monitoring, and enforcement are all essential for tackling this serious issue that affects women’s personal and professional lives.”