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Lebanese fashion model killed in suspected femicide Open in fullscreen

Kamal Afzali

Lebanese fashion model killed in suspected femicide

Kanjo is said to have previously submitted domestic violence complaints to a Beirut court [Twitter]

Date of publication: 31 January, 2021

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A Lebanon-based women's group has called for the strongest possible punishment for the perpetrator of Zeina Kanjo's brutal femicide.

A Lebanese fashion model was allegedly strangled to death on Sunday evening by her husband whom she was in the process of divorcing, at the home they had shared in Beirut, local media report.

The killing has prompted an outcry from social media users and women's right groups, one of which has called for the strongest possible punishment for her killer to serve as a deterrent against perpetrators of gender-based violence amid Lebanon's shadow pandemic.

Specific details surrounding the murder of Zeina Kanjo - a fashion model and the winner of several beauty pageants - at her maritial home in Beirut's Ain el Mreisseh district are yet to be confirmed by authorities.

However, Lebanese media outlets have reported that the prime suspect behind her killing is her husband, who is said to have strangled her and then disappeared.

Beirut's police have opened an investigation into the killing led by the city's chief prosecutor, Ziad Abu Haidar. 

Kanjo had previously submitted domestic violence complaints to a Beirut court, according to media reports. She was also said to be in process of finalising a divorce at the time of her killing. 

Lebanese have taken to social media using the hashtag #Zeina_Kanjo to express their outrage at the incident.

Local journalists have shared a screenshot of a social media post by Kanjo in July last year, showing her sat next to red balloons holding a bouquet of flowers, with rose petals strewn on the floor.

The photo is captioned, "when God gives you more than you deserve and gives you the most sophisticated and loving man on earth I love you darling".

In a statement, Lebanon's Union of Progressive women decried Kanjo's killing, calling it "the latest chapter in the ongoing story of domestic violence in Lebanon" which has worsened as victims are once again trapped with their abusers amid the country's latest national lockdown.

The women’s group slammed the government its "neglect and idleness" in implementing laws which protect women and victims of gender-based violence. It called for the "strongest possible punishment" for the perpetrator of Kanjo's killing to serve as a deterrent against femicide and other acts of violence against women.   

Read also: Why the Middle East cannot ignore the 'shadow pandemic' of violence against women

In November, Human Rights Watch said that Lebanon was falling short of upholding its legal obligations to protect women and girls from violence and gender discrimination

The November report, which was submitted by HRW to a UN Committee reviewing Lebanon's compliance with the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), found that the country has not made progress to carry out a number of recommendations from its previous review in 2015.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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