Rayan Majed

The death of Manal Assi

Another jarring domestic violence case forces Lebanon to confront its legal obstacles

Domestic violence protest

“First came Roula Yaacoub; today, it is the turn of Manal Assi, the mother of two daughters who was the exact age as Roula, 33 years old. She was killed in the same circumstances in the home she shared with her husband. The only difference is that Manal drew her last breath in her mother’s arms after her husband, who stands accused of killing her, locked them in and denied Manal access to first aid for more than two hours. How will the judiciary deal with Manal’s case?”


The above was written by KAFA on its Facebook page after news emerged of Assi’s death. Assi passed away in Maqassed Hospital from her injuries after hours of savage beating by her husband, Mohammad al-Nuhayli, using whatever sharp tools he could lay his hands on and ultimately a pressure cooker.


On Tuesday February 4, the unconscious Assi was left to bleed on the floor of her Tariq al-Jedideh home for about two hours. Her mother, sister, and brother had rushed to her side after the husband called Manal’s mother and told her to come see her daughter in this state.


Having already beaten Assi, once her family arrived, he locked them all in the apartment and, threatening them with a weapon, banned them from administering any first aid. He also blocked the Civil Defense ambulance that responded to the emergency call from taking her to the hospital.


“Roula Yaacoub, who died on July 7, 2013, has had her case reopened and her husband was charged with beating her to death. Manal’s story today is a stark reminder of the importance of deterrence in relation with these crimes,” said KAFA lawyer Leila Awada.


Crimes of domestic violence have been recurring for years. This year opened with the case of Fatima al-Nashar, who was almost beaten to death by her husband in Tripoli, as well as Manal Assi’s death three days ago. Each instance is followed by news reports and condemnations with KAFA following up on the case, but the draft law that is supposed to protect Lebanese women against domestic violence is still pending in parliament though it was first put in motion back in 2007.


Assi arrived in the Maqassed Hospital on February 4 and died there a few hours later from the blood loss she had sustained after being beaten and imprisoned in her own home while her family was forced to watch her die slowly. The horror that still gripped them and Assi’s husband’s threats caused her mother to initially say that her daughter had died from a fall down the stairs; she later told the investigator what truly happened, which was then recorded in the medical examiner’s report.


ISF Public Relations Branch chief Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Mousallem said that the family and neighbors did not call the police station at the time of the assault. Rather, the complaint originated from the hospital as soon as Manal Assi was admitted. Faten Abu Chacra, a project coordinator at KAFA, explained that the police station is bound by a memorandum that defines the mission of ISF personnel when responding to calls regarding domestic violence victims, issued by the ISF Directorate General as a result of joint training sessions that have been continuing for approximately two years between KAFA and the ISF.


Assi’s husband ran away after killing her, knowing that he already has several arrest warrants issued in his name. He was subsequently arrested on Thursday, according to an ISF statement. Assi was buried by her family and friends Wednesday afternoon amid crushing sadness, silence, and fear, having left behind two daughters – aged 13 and 15 – who were forced at an early age to deal with the injustice of life.


This article has been translated from the original Arabic.

Protesting domestic violence. (Image courtesy of KAFA's Facebook page)

"Manal’s story today is a stark reminder of the importance of deterrence in relation with these crimes."

  • Hanibaal-Atheos

    With the Jacky Chamoun controversy, which is a better choice: Chamoun = Women who are free to pose nude, or Manal Assi = women who are brainwashed into accepting that getting beaten to death is the right place of a woman? I wholeheartedly choose Chamoun over Assi. Women in Lebanon and anywhere in the backwards third world - generally Muslim, but not exclusively - who accept to be treated like cattle are COWARDS and perpetuate the system that enslaves them. I blame Manal Assi as much as I blame her husband for his crime. She enabled it by accepting her lower status.

    February 12, 2014


    It is a shame, that many women prefer to accept the verbal, mental or physical abuse of their husbands on the grounds that if the issues come out in the open the family will be shamed. Well better be shamed than dead. Its not only the Manals, there are so many people that are abused that its worrying. In my entourage or extended social network i know of 5 such cases of varying levels of violence, Two tried to escape but returned to their husbands after the husbands supposedly repented and said they were sorry. While i hope they seriously change, I doubt it. But then there is only so much one can do.....! We really need to have our parliamentarians work seriously on passing legislation to prevent and firmly punish perpetrators of violence against their spouses (and sisters and mothers) .

    February 11, 2014

  • Hanibaal-Atheos

    Just like everything else worthwhile in our lives, we the Lebanese are asked to shelf issues like domestic violence, the right of women to give citizenship to their children, freedom from religion for those who so choose, a clean administration that respects people, and yes, good roads, clean and cheap running water, round the clock electricity, telephone lines that work, decent Internet, etc. etc. etc... we have put all these things, and our lives, on hold since about 1975 because Yasser Arafat, then Hassan Nasrallah wanted to liberate Jerusalem, and because Nasrallah's fellow Patriarchs, Muftis, Sayyids, Sheikhs, and such other bearded turbaned religious neanderthals do not think it wise to upset the "natural social order given to us by God", according to which a man like Mohammad al-Nuhayli is entitled to beat and kill Manal Assi because God decreed that men were created first, and are therefore superior to women - الرجل هو رأس المرأة isn't it obvious?

    February 8, 2014