Rape survivors are fighting back against victim-blaming in Lebanon

#ShameOnWho activists wearing black veils symbolizing the stigma attached to rape victims.

Beirut, Lebanon (CNN)"I've been raped," Manal Issa shouts as she staggers down a street in Beirut.

A crowd gathers around the woman who appears disoriented and frantic. Some people encourage her to "calm down" and "keep it quiet." Others scold her for wearing a mini-skirt. One man accuses her of being a drug addict.
Manal is an actor in a social experiment organized by the Lebanese women's rights group ABAAD last month. During the nine or so hours when Manal emulated a rape victim, not a single bystander called the police.
    The aim of the experiment -- part of a weeks-long campaign called #ShameOnWho -- was to expose the stigma attached to rape victims, activists say.
    "In general, people think that she's the loose one, she's the one to blame and she's the one who should be held accountable," says ABAAD's founder Ghida Anani.
    "We're trying to encourage women who are survivors of rape to speak up, to get out from the cycle and culture of victim-blaming," says Anani.
    A women's rights protester holds a #ShameOnWho campaign banner at Beirut's yearly marathon this November.
    Despite concerted movements by Lebanese civil society to tackle gender-based violence, the problem is growing. In 1994, 30% of women in Lebanon said they experienced some form of violence, according to United Nations figures. Today that figure is closer to 60%, according to data compiled by ABAAD from various ministries, the police and media reporting.
    It's unclear if the increase in claims is due to a greater willingness to report the violence or an actual rise in the number of attacks or a mix of both, Anani says.
    But activists have pushed hard against the trend. Awareness campaigns promoting gender equity are prominent and hard-hitting, and activists have kept up sustained pressure on government to introduce legislation to protect women.
    In 2014, Lebanon's parliament passed its first-ever law criminalizing domestic violence. In 2017, it repealed a legal loophole that acquitted rapists who marry their victims. Still, Lebanon's penal code has some way to go. No minimum legal age for marriage exists in the country and marital rape remains legal.

    Speaking up