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Dirty Laundry - Not Your Honor

LEO BURNETT, Beirut / ABAAD RESOURCE CENTER FOR GENDER EQUALITY / 2023

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Overview

Background

Chapter 7 of Lebanon’s Penal code deals with sexual violence crimes. However, it only sentences rapists to 0-5 years of jail time, reducing the severity of rape to that of other crimes such as robbery, illegal drug consumption or signing blank checks.

Additionally, Chapter 7’s title, “Crimes That Affect Honor”, reveals that it holds the same societal taboo of rape being a matter of “honor” rather than a serious crime.

With the petrifying fear of being shamed by their families, and without a law to adequately protect them, 60% of rape survivors don’t dare speak up nor seek justice.

As the NGO that women in Lebanon rely on for protection, Abaad wants to change the law and increase the sentence for rape crimes.

To do that, Abaad needed to liberate the voices of rape - sparking its subversive advocacy campaign during the UN’s 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence.

Idea

To pressure our lawmakers into increasing rape crime sentences, Abaad’s advocacy campaign demanded they treat rape as a serious crime that needs a serious sentence.

To do this, we needed to break the deafening silence around rape. To abolish the belief that rape is the survivor’s fault. And to stop the societal taboo that rape stories are too shameful to be spoken about, because:

Raped bodies are not dirty laundry.

Strategy

In 2022, Abaad conducted a study that found 60% of women who are raped don’t report it because of honor. And without a law that adequately punishes rapists, rape survivors are left with nowhere to turn for protection or justice.

To substantiate our advocacy campaign in amending the law to protect survivors, we had to stop society’s shaming and blaming towards them - to end the notion of women’s raped bodies being dirty laundry. Changing this entrenched taboo required content that not only disrupts the public’s rape-shaming attitude, but sparks engagement and dialogue around rape’s severity.

Accordingly, we crafted our communication around two key influencers capable of impacting society’s entrenched patriarchal beliefs. We partnered with one of our influencers because of the large platform she could provide survivors to speak up, fueling the aim of breaking the silence around rape, thereby pressuring our Members of Parliament into amending the law.

Execution

We disrupted viewers’ ears, eyes and hearts with a web series boldy showcasing realities of rape. Lebanon’s famous international model, Nour Arida, surprised viewers by using her 16M-follower platform to mirror and liberate survivors’ voices rather than sharing fashion-related content. Four brave survivors told their heart-wrenching stories and engaged in intimately raw, open discussions with Nour and specialists.

To support Abaad’s on-ground advocacy efforts, Nour and survivors were joined by activists who carried their bodies and “laundry” to the Lebanese Parliament, bluntly spreading our campaign’s demand in the faces of lawmakers and media to achieve a sentence as serious as the crime.

Finally, we co-created a poignant film with Lebanon’s subversive multidisciplinary artist- Remie Akl. Women were literally hung on clotheslines, illustrating the absurdity of raped bodies being “dirty laundry” to be hidden and silenced- the first women empowerment manifesto of its kind to dare emerge in the Middle East.

Outcome

In a society where raped women are silenced, shamed and labelled “dirty laundry”, our campaign liberated them in the most unprecedented way known to the Arab world:

Nour Arida “Not Your Honor” Web Series:

• Views: 30M

• Impressions: 36M

• Likes: 1.5M

and 100K shares.

Remie “Dirty Laundry” Film:

• Views: 5.2M

• Impressions: 6.4M

• Likes: 150K

Overall campaign results:

• Perceived Value: $2.6M.

• Impressions: 448M.

• Views: 75.2M

• Engagements: 4.3M

• Shares: 315K

• Likes: 3.6M

• Comments: 77K

• #1 Trending hashtag on Twitter within thirty minutes.

And most importantly, our intrusive communication shook our unshakeable system, whereby

8 out of 10 Parliament parties gave their commitment to increase the rape sentence.

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Dirty Laundry

LEO BURNETT, Beirut

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2024, ABAAD RESOURCE CENTER FOR GENDER EQUALITY

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