The Lebanese judiciary system never incorporated any kind of texts punishing domestic violence. After years of lobbying, a law against domestic violence drafted by the NGO Kafa was finally going to be proposed for voting in Parliament.
Kafa came to us to help them put pressure on Members of Parliament. Women representing 52% of the voting force, we decided to threaten the MPs with the one weapon that could make a difference: OUR VOTES.
We invited people to color their thumbs in red (instead of the voting “blue”) and threaten overtly: Vote for us, We’ll vote for you.
We launched our PR campaign by a call for action that spread like wildfire. People from all walks of life joined our movement resulting in an unprecedented wave of participation that led to the passing of the law.
Our objective was to put pressure on the Lebanese Members of Parliaments (MPs) to get them to pass the law to protect women from domestic violence.
We wanted to sensibilize the public’s opinion to engage with our cause in order for the MPs to feel the pressure and act.
We also needed the majority of the parliamentarians to vote for Kafa’s draft to ensure it passes with the required amendments.
The campaign was a huge success as we managed to achieve our overall objective.
1- We were able to create phenomenal awareness and engagement in a very short period of time:
• More than 22 million Twitter impressions in the first 2 weeks from 51 countries
• More than 20,000 physical and digital red thumbs gathered
• A 700% increase in online conversations about domestic violence
• A 350% increase in comments on Kafa’s Facebook page
• A 23% increase in followers on Kafa’s Twitter page
• 1.7 million USD in earned media
• 2 million people exposed to the campaign from the TV news coverage only in a country of 4 million
2- On April 1st 2014, while our red thumbs were waiting outside the parliament, the law against domestic violence was voted.
On Vote Day, we wanted to transform our virtual movement into an on the ground protest to further increase the pressure.
MP’s were meeting inside the parliament. We were outside on the street.
The faces of the MP’s voting for the law were placated outside of the parliament LIKE A GIANT OUTDOOR DISPLAY, and each time an MP was voting against the law, his/her face was covered with the activist’s red thumbs.
Everyone, including the media, was prohibited from entering the session. But we were able to enter the parliament through social media.
A private text message was sent to the MPs while the session was taking place, to ensure each one felt DIRECTLY AND INDIVIDUALLY the pressure of our red thumbs. This infuriated the president of the parliament, Mr Nabih Berri who stated live on TV, that he will not surrender to threats.
Kafa (enough violence and exploitation) is a leading NGO that has the mission to “work towards eradicating all forms of gender-based violence and exploitation of women and children through advocating for legal reform and change of policies and practices, influencing public opinion, and empowering women and children”.
The year 2014, witnessed a dramatic increase in numbers of domestic violence victims.
Kafa, who has been relentlessly developing a draft law project to protect women from domestic violence, was more than ever committed to have the law voted with their requested amendments by parliament to provide Lebanese women with a legal protection.
In our country, when the Lebanese vote during elections, they soak their thumb in blue ink to ensure they only voted once and did not use someone else’s ID to vote another time.
We used this voting symbol and asked citizens to use their voting thumb, replacing the blue ink with the red color, the color of blood and injuries of violated women.
We created a simple and relevant visual icon featuring a red thumb with a clear statement: “Vote for us so we vote for you”.
We asked Kafa activists, major influencers and key TV anchors to color their thumbs in red, post them online or show their Red Thumbs on TV shows. We also encouraged them to couple their posts with threatening statements against politicians, asking overtly and simply for the tradeoff: I will vote for you only if you vote for me and put the statement under the hashtag of #Nolawnovote.