Understanding the root causes of violence against children and women in Lebanon

A qualitative study using innovative data collection techniques to unravel the complex reasons accompanying violence against children and women; using a Social Behavioral Model


The research looks at the drivers and root causes of Child labor, Child marriage, Violence against children, Intimate Partner Violence and Children engaged in armed violence, in Lebanon. It uses the social behavioral change model to understand the driver’s dimensions including Social norms. It provides a wide view of the perception and attitudes of those who influence, decide and/or encourage violence on women and children.   

Given the objective was to unpack the root causes and drivers, the research adopted a formative qualitative approach. Interactive and innovative tools were used for the data collection, such as problem tree, ranking, and deep dive. Around 100 Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) were held across Lebanon, nationalities, age, and sex. Analysis was conducted using the Social Behavioral Change Model.
The below are key findings under each child protection issue:

Child Labour

Participants do not consider the behaviour as ideal but feel pushed to practicing it so that the child contributes to the family’s expenses. This helped some participants accept the behaviour as normal and a reasonable response to their circumstances.

Men’s and women’s roles and expectations of each other places a lot of stress on them. Men are expected to work, yet they are not able to find work due to structural barriers. Out of the four behaviours, Child Labour drivers were the least diverse ones.

Child Marriage

At times, boys thought of child marriage as a sign of maturity, a view that was sometimes shared by members of their community. If they can start their own family, they were expected to do it. For girls, child marriage was often seen as a potential way out of their parents’ homes.

Violent Discipline

Parents would often mention the occurrence of violent discipline as an impulsive behaviour resulting from lack of self-efficacy. However, they also refer to its potential gains which frames its practice as a conscious and deliberately exercised behaviour. Violent discipline is still believed by some to hold disciplinary value

Intimate Partner Violence

The driving ideologies behind intimate partner violence were the expectation of women to empathize with men, the entitlement of men to violence and sex, and communities’ expectations of the behaviour’s practice by men.

Children in Armed Violence

Notions of protection from an external threat seem to mostly be mentioned by males. For females, most of what we’re seeing has to do with tribalism and drug dealing. Also, financial incentives do exist; yet, they are built into a larger system made up of disregard to rule of law, sectarianism, politicization, and tribalism.

Depiction of guns in media contributes to children’s involvement in armed violence due to its tied notions of masculinity and the righteous enforcer in a sense.

Despite that communities reported rejecting guns and weapons, they are still prevalent and accessible. Drivers due related to ideologies, such as religion, or those related to specific cohorts, such as the Palestinian cause, were seen as motives towards to children’s involvement in armed violence; along with the protection reasons.

The research has contributed to the development of Qudwa – The Social Behavioral Change and Communication Plan, conducted with Ministry of Social Affairs, which was recently. Moreover, this research feeds into advancing the Child protection, GBV and C4D programs in Lebanon not just across UNICEF and its partners for the sectors.

A father and a mother standing with their children
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