Killed by the Patriarchy: Lebanese Woman Murdered in Broad Daylight

Killed by the Patriarchy: Lebanese Woman Murdered in Broad Daylight
Photo by Maxim Hopman via Unsplash


Perla Khaled

Middle East and Human Rights Researcher 

Global Human Rights Defence

A Lebanese man killed a woman in the town of Zahle on July 28, 2023, after she declined his romantic proposal, echoing a series of similar incidents whereby women have been murdered by their relatives or acquaintances in Lebanon amid heightened gender-based violence. [1]

Shibl Abu Najem shot his former romantic partner Maria Hatti in the head in a restaurant parking lot after allegedly spotting her with another man, killing her instantly. Abu Najem proceeded to shoot himself and passed away shortly after being taken to the hospital. [2]

According to sources close to Hatti, the victim met Abu Najem three months prior, but she later rejected him and “ended their relationship” after finding out that he had a wife and a daughter. [3] Nevertheless, Abu Najem continued to stalk her and threatened to kill her three days before the incident, leading to Hatti filing a complaint with the police on July 26. [4] It remains unclear whom Hatti was with at the restaurant, with some reports stating that she allegedly died in front of her parents, and others claiming she had a business meeting over lunch.

Hatti’s story is that of many Lebanese women who have fallen victim to patriarchal norms and were killed at the hands of men in their entourage, amid an alarming prevalence of femicide in Lebanon. According to KAFA (meaning “enough” in Arabic) Violence & Exploitation, a Lebanese non-governmental organization that fights gender-based violence, twelve women have been killed to date in 2023, in addition to seven suicides and six attempted murders. [5]

Lebanon has previously passed laws that criminalise different forms of violence against women, but they are not adequately implemented, and the country’s judicial system still faces substantial loopholes that hinder it from properly addressing gender-based violence. Despite progress and the amendment of specific laws in recent years, women continue to lack fundamental rights. For instance, although Law No. 293 strives to protect women from physical abuse and domestic violence, it still holds diverse gaps, rendering it inefficient in preventing femicide. [6] 

In fact, according to a study by the Lebanese Women Democratic Gathering, many of the women who are killed would have often complained to the authorities about violent episodes beforehand, but their complaints would be dismissed. [7] Consequently, violence against women is sustained in a climate of impunity that fails to hold offenders accountable and protect victims. Moreover, gender inequality in Lebanon is the product of patriarchal norms, discriminatory laws, and a “legacy of militarised masculinity” from previous conflicts. [8] Thus, societal and cultural norms and perceptions that relegate women to second-class citizens have long contributed to the pervasiveness of gender-based violence. 

In light of Lebanon’s compounding crises, women are persistently marginalised, forcing them to bear the brunt of institutional dysfunction and political gridlock. Unless legal gaps are urgently addressed and prevailing societal attitudes are countered, the number of victims will inevitably rise, and the constitutional assertion that “all Lebanese shall be equal before the law” risks remaining a distant aspiration.

Sources and further reading:

[1] Al Arabiya, ‘Man kills himself after shooting women dead for rejecting him in Lebanon: Report’ (29 July 2023) <> accessed 06 August 2023.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Gulf Today, ‘Lebanese man kills woman and commits suicide after she refused to marry him’ (29 July 2023) <> accessed 06 August 2023.

[6] Fatima Moussawi, Nasser Yassin, American University of Beirut Policy Institute, ‘DISSECTING LEBANESE LAW 293 ON DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: ARE WOMEN PROTECTED?’ (August 2017) <> accessed 06 August 2023.

[7] Fatima Shehadeh, Raseef 22, ‘When will violence against Lebanese women get the attention needed?’ (22 May 2023) <> accessed 06 August 2023.

[8] The Guardian, ‘Burned, suffocated, beaten: why women in Lebanon are dying at the hands of their partners’ (27 February 2023) <> accessed 06 August 2023.