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Lebanon

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OVERVIEW

In Lebanon, you will find a wide variety of health care resources. Contraceptives (birth control) are available in pharmacies without a prescription. Emergency contraception ("the morning after pill") can be purchased without a prescription at pharmacies, even though you may technically need a prescription. Note that ellaOne, the most effective EC on the market (as of 2016), is available in Beirut. You can get STI tests in Beirut and there are some confidential testing facilities. Be aware that some facilities test for only HIV, rather than a range of STIs. Furthermore, if you are applying for a work permit, you are required to take an HIV test and, if the results are positive, you will be deported. You can access HPV medication in Lebanon, but no national vaccination program is in place. There is currently no PrEP in the country. In 2014, maternity leave was extended from seven weeks to ten weeks. Finally, abortion is illegal in all circumstances, except for cases when a woman's life is endangered. While the law imposes harsh punishments upon those who seek out or perform abortions, the legal reality of the situation appears to be a bit more complex. There are many clandestine abortions performed in Beirut and, so long as no family members issue complaints, the government seems to look the other way. However, one should remain especially careful if pursuing this path, and may want to consider seeking out an abortion in countries where they are legally performed, such as Turkey.

Contraception (Birth Control)[edit]

General Note: There are many types of contraceptives, also known as "birth control," including IUDs, oral contraceptives, patches, shots, and condoms, etc. If you would like to view a full list, click here.

Laws & Social Stigmas[edit]

In Lebanon, you can purchase hormonal birth control pills without a prescription. In 2007, it was estimated that 58% of Lebanese women use some form of contraception. In Beirut, it was estimated that 26% of women use oral contraceptives, 20% use IUDs, 24% use natural family planning (also known as the "fertility awareness method"), 16% use the withdrawal method and 15% use other methods.[1]

While Lebanon is liberal compared to many of its neighbors, sex education and premarital sex still remain taboo. In schools, sex education is often limited to basic biological information. Furthermore, there are reports of widespread misinformation surrounding contraception, including the false belief that birth control pills cause infertility. Many women shy away from sex education and family planning guidance, as they may be having premarital sex and feel embarrassed or ashamed.[2]

What to Get & Where to Get It[edit]

  • If you're interested in hormonal birth control, you can purchase birth control pills at pharmacies. Some brands you can expect to find are Belara, Diane-35, Femoven, Gracial, Lo-Femenal, Marvelon, Microgynon, Microval, Neogynon, Nordiol, Ovral, Microgynon-30, Nordette, Yasmin and Yaz.[3]
  • You can find the contraceptive ring (Nuvaring) in Beirut pharmacies. One pharmacy sold it for 18000 Lebanese Pounds (July 2017).
  • You can also buy condoms in stores and online. There's a Lebanese company, called Yalla Condoms, which lets you buy condoms online, if you don't want to go the store or don't feel comfortable. On their website, Yalla says: "We deliver your ordered condoms and complementary products to all Lebanon. Delivery fee is $5.00 for all orders below $30.00 and free above this amount... Our orders are usually delivered within 48 hours (2 working days). You will receive a confirmation email 24 hours following your order with details of the dispatch... Our Products Protect You, We Protect Your Privacy. We will never sell your email, phone number, or any of your other personal information to any individual or entity outside of our company. Orders are Shipped and Packaged Discreetly."
  • If you want an IUD, they are used by 20% of Beirut women, so you should be able to find IUD services at women's clinics or hospitals. See our "Gynecological Exams" section for a list of recommended gynecologists in Beirut. One of the main IUD brands available is Mirena.
  • If you want a contraceptive shot/injectable, you can find Depo-Provera or Noristerat in Lebanon.[4]

Costs[edit]

Emergency Contraception (Morning After Pill)[edit]

Important Notes: Emergency contraception may prevent pregnancy for three days (72 hours) and sometimes five days (120 hours) after unprotected sex. Take EC as soon as possible after unprotected sex. If you don't have access to dedicated EC, oral contraceptives can be used as replacement EC, but remember the following: 1) Only some contraceptives work as EC 2) Different contraceptives require different dosages and time schedules to work as EC 3) You must only use the first 21 pills in 28-day packs and 4) They may be less effective than dedicated EC. For general information on emergency contraceptives, click here and here.

Laws & Social Stigmas[edit]

In Lebanon, you can purchase emergency contraception (the morning after pill) without a prescription at pharmacies. You may technically need a prescription to purchase emergency contraception (we're still waiting on confirmation of this), but it doesn't seem to be widely enforced.

What to Get & Where to Get It[edit]

Note: The longest-lasting EC is currently ellaOne. It lasts up to 5 days (120 hours) after unprotected sex, and it's available in Lebanon. Copper IUDs may also prevent pregnancy up to 5 days after unprotected sex. If none of these options are available, and it's been over 3 days since you had unprotected sex, you can still take EC, which may work up to 5 days. Note that EC pills are not 100% effective and should be taken as soon as possible.

Below, we have provided information about dedicated emergency contraception. If you cannot purchase emergency contraception, you may also use oral contraceptives as replacement emergency contraception, which we describe how to do below. Information provided by Princeton EC Website.

Dedicated Products / Anti-Progestin Take 1 pill within 120 hours after unprotected sex:[5]

  • ellaOne

Dedicated Products / Progestin Only Take 1 pill within 120 hours after unprotected sex:[6]

  • NorLevo 1.5mg

Oral Contraceptives used for EC / Progestin Only Take 50 pills within 120 hours after unprotected sex:[7]

  • Microval

Oral Contraceptives used for EC / Progestin-Estrogen Combined Note: in 28-day packs, only the first 21 pills can be used Take 2 pills within 120 hours after unprotected sex and take 2 more pills 12 hours later:[8]

  • Neogynon
  • Nordiol
  • Ovral

Take 4 pills within 120 hours after unprotected sex and take 4 more pills 12 hours later:[9]

  • Lo-Femenal
  • Microgynon-30
  • Nordette

Costs[edit]

One local reported that she paid 75,000 LBP for ellaOne in a Beirut pharmacy. However, there are probably cheaper prices for other pills (not ellaOne) or potentially cheaper pharmacies.

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs/STDs)[edit]

Important Notes - Learn about PEP and PrEP: If you think that you've been recently exposed to HIV (i.e. within 72 hours), seek out PEP (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis). It's a month-long treatment to prevent HIV infection after exposure, and it may be available in your city. Take PEP as soon as possible. For more information, click here. If you are at risk of HIV exposure, seek out PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis). It's a daily oral pill that can prevent HIV infection before exposure. To learn more about PrEP, click here.

Laws & Social Stigmas[edit]

If you are traveling to Lebanon as a tourist, there are no travel restrictions related to HIV or STI status (i.e. no medical certificate or tests required). However, if you are applying for a work permit in Lebanon, you are required to submit paperwork proving that you are HIV negative (and potentially negative for other STIs as well). If you are found to be HIV+, you will be deported and the recruitment agency will cover the repatriation costs.[10]

While STI tests are available in Lebanon, they are reportedly not very common. There is a common misconception that people who have been abroad or participated in "hek-hek" (so-so) relations should get tested, but that not everyone should get tested. Furthermore, some men are reportedly too "macho" too get tested.

Regarding HPV, while Lebanese women are at risk, there seems to be limited HPV awareness. Furthermore, Lebanon has no national HPV vaccination program in place (as of 2016). Here's an article about suboptimal HPV awareness in Lebanon.

What to Get & Where to Get It[edit]

Testing Facilities[edit]

Please visit the city pages, like the Beirut page, for local recommendations.

Support[edit]

  • Marsa Sexual Health Center: Free Psychological counseling for People Living With HIV, Free social counseling and follow-up, Psychosexual counseling and couples therapy, Reiki relaxation sessions. Phone/Fax: +961 1 737647; +961 70 713384 Beirut, Hamra, Clemenceau, next to Haigazian University, Mexico Street, Myrtom House Building, 2nd Floor. Email: info@marsa.me.
  • Helem: "In Helem's health initiatives, we adopt a rights-based approach that recognizes the particularities of HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted illnesses (STIs) and sexual health relative to LGBTs. We are partnered with local NGOs in long term projects that aim to raise awareness on HIV/AIDS and STIs among LGBTs and to place the sexual health concerns of sexual minorities on the agendas of policy-makers and health practitioners." Email: info@helem.net. Director's Email: director@helem.net, +961 1 568160 , +961 71 916146 (hotline).
  • Lebanese AIDS Society: Address: Charles Malek Avenue, Beirut, Telephone: +961 1 217785, Fax: +961 1 218382, Email: jacques.mokhbat@gmail.com
  • M-Coalition: Address: Saint Louis street, Yazbeck Center, 6th floor, P.O. BOX: 16 70 43, Achrafieh, Beirut - Lebanon, Telephone: +961 1 566 469 x108,, Email: info@m-coalition.org
  • MENAHRA - Middle East & North Africa Harm Reduction Association: "MENAHRA aims to develop harm reduction in the Middle East and North Africa. MENAHRA comprises three sub-regional knowledge hubs responsible for capacity building, training, advocacy and documentation, and a network linking people working in this field." Address: PO Box 55391, Sin El Fil, Beirut, Telephone: +961 1 493211, Email: info@menahra.org
  • National AIDS Control Programme: Address: Quarantina, behind Quarantina Hospital, Beirut, Telephone: +9611566100/1, Fax: +961 1 566102, Email: wholeb_nap@inco.com.lb, Web:
  • Regional Arab Network Against AIDS (RANAA): "RANAA works to strengthen the role of the civil society in limiting the spread of HIV/AIDS in the MENA region, including those working with most at risk populations (MARPs), and ensuring the rights of PLHIV to live in dignity and have access to support, treatment & care..." Address: SIN EL FIL 55391 - North Metn, Beirut, Telephone: +961 1 482 428, Email: contact@ranaa.net
  • Vivre Positif: "SIDC’s mission is to develop social solidarity by reinforcing healthy behaviour in Lebanon through community empowerment, prevention, harm reduction policies, advocacy, and psychosocial services.The work of SIDC primarily targets the youth and populations that are already affected and/or infected, by anticipating the problems that can mark them and tackling them as needed..." Address: Youssef Karam Street, Daou bldg, 1st floor, 55391 Sin el Fil, Telephone: +961 1 480714, Email: vivrepositif@sidc-lebanon.org

Costs[edit]

Medications & Vaccines[edit]

Laws & Social Stigmas[edit]

What to Get & Where to Get It[edit]

  • If you're looking for a pharmacy in Beirut, you can usually spot one due to the green cross sign. They often say "pharmacy" in English as well.
  • If you have a yeast infection, you can ask for a generic version of Fluconazole at the pharmacy.
  • If you have a UTI, locals say that you can go the pharmacy and get medication without a prescription. You just explain what you think you have or your symptoms and the pharmacist will help you. Ideally, you should still visit a health care professional before self-diagnosing yourself with a UTI since antibiotics are required.
  • It appears that both HPV vaccines (Gardasil and Cervarix) have been approved of in Lebanon. However, Lebanon has no national HPV vaccination program in place.
  • There is no PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) available in Lebanon.

Costs[edit]

Menstruation[edit]

Note: In addition to pads and tampons, you can also use menstrual cups and menstrual underwear for your period. To learn more about menstrual cups, click here. To learn more about menstrual underwear, click here.

Laws & Social Stigmas[edit]

What to Get & Where to Get It[edit]

In Lebanon, you can primarily finds pads and pantyliners. While some tampons are sold, they are less common and can be expensive. As for menstrual cups, there seems to be no sellers of the major brands (like DivaCup, MoonCup, LadyCup, Lunette, etc.), so it's probably best to buy menstrual cups online.

Costs[edit]

Gynecological Exams[edit]

Laws & Social Stigmas[edit]

What to Get & Where to Get It[edit]

Please city pages for local recommendations, like the Beirut page.

Costs[edit]

Pregnancy[edit]

Laws & Social Stigmas[edit]

Lebanese women are entitled to 10 weeks of maternity leave. The previous law only allowed seven weeks but, in 2014, the law was changed to allow 10 weeks.

What to Get & Where to Get It[edit]

Costs[edit]

Abortion[edit]

Important Note: There are two main types of abortions: medical (also known as the "abortion pill") and surgical (also known as "in-clinic"). For medical abortions, you take a pill to induce abortion. For surgical abortions, a procedure is performed to induce abortion. For general information about medical and surgical abortions, click here.

Laws & Social Stigmas[edit]

In Lebanon, abortion is generally illegal, as stated in the Penal Code. It is only permitted when the woman's life is endangered by the pregnancy. This means that for all reasons, including to preserve physical health, to preserve mental health, rape or incest, fetal impairment, economic or social reasons, or availability on request, are not permitted.

Prosecution of abortion laws is under the jurisdiction of the religious courts. If a woman induces an abortion or consents to anyone performing an abortion her, that woman is subject to six months to three years of imprisonment. The person who performs the abortion (with the consent of the woman) is subject to one to three years of imprisonment. If the woman dies during the abortion, the person performing the abortion is subject to four to seven years in prison. If the woman does not consent to the abortion, the person who performed the abortion is subject to five years of forced labor -- and, if the woman died during the abortion (and did not consent), the person who performed the abortion is subject to at least 10 years of forced labor. If someone performed an abortion to "save the honor" of a descendent or relative to the second degree, or if a woman induced her own abortion to preserve her honor, there will generally be a reduced penalty. However, health care personnel typically receive more stringent penalties, and their licenses will be revoked while their businesses may be closed down.[11]

According to Lebanese law, it is also explicitly illegal to disseminate any information that helps facilitate abortions, or to sell any objects that can help facilitate abortions. If someone does any of these things, they are subject to two months to two years of imprisonment.[12]

Despite the strict laws, women do receive clandestine abortions in Lebanon. According to a 2002 report, "In theory, this law addresses the needs of the Lebanese community and everybody appears to be abiding by it. However, the real picture seems far from this. Experts in the field believe that Lebanese women are constantly breaking the law to accommodate their actual needs (LFPA, 2001). They also claim this violation is well known to policy makers. Yet, they are not willing to act accordingly. For many reasons, they are not ready to modify the law; at the same time, they are not enforcing its implementation but rather turning a blind eye to the perpetrators."[13] Furthermore, The virtual absence of attempts to amend this law ever since, as well as the absence of research concerning its effect on the community, reflects that abortion does not seem to be a public issue of concern."[14]

Generally, clinics charge $300-600 for clandestine abortions while hospitals charge around $3000. While some abortions are performed in generally hygienic facilities, many more seem to be performed in more run-down, "back-alley" or less hygienic conditions.[15]

Some personal accounts of abortions in Lebanon:

There is very little activism around legalization of abortion in Lebanon. There appears to be an attitude of "turning a blind eye" from all sides, whether governmental or social. However, if you are interested in reading a call for the legalization, you can check out the links below:

What to Get & Where to Get It[edit]

There are no official places to receive abortions in Lebanon. If someone is interested in obtaining a clandestine abortion, they should consult with a trusted physician or clinic. If someone is interested in potentially obtaining an abortion outside of Lebanon, legal abortions are performed in Turkey, Greece and Azerbaijan upon request. They are also available in Cyprus for certain circumstances (but, officially, not on request).

Costs[edit]

Advocacy & Counseling[edit]

Laws & Social Stigmas[edit]

What to Get & Where to Get It[edit]

  • ABAAD Women & Girl's Safe Space - Safe Line: +961 81 78 81 78
  • For domestic violence, call Kafa‘s Helpline: 03-018019
  • For migrant domestic workers, call Kafa‘s Helpline: 76-090910
  • For migrant domestic workers, call the Anti-Racism Movement (ARM)‘s Helpline: 76-350284
  • For gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender support, call Helem‘s Helpline: 70-123687
  • For child sexual abuse, call Himaya‘s Helpline: 03-414964
  • For sexual and reproductive health services, call Marsa: 01-737647
  • The A Project Sexuality Hotline: We are open from 5 PM to 11 PM at +961 71 210208. You can also email us at sexualityhotline@gmail.com. "Our hotline is accessible, confidential, and judgment-free. Who picks up the phone? We are volunteers trained in sexuality counseling, who promise you utmost respect and confidentiality."

Costs[edit]

List of Additional Resources[edit]

  • ABAAD: "ABAAD is a non-profit, non-politically affiliated, non-religious civil association that aims to achieve gender equality as an essential condition to sustainable social and economic development in the MENA region. ABAAD seeks to promote women’s equality and participation through policy development, legal reform, gender mainstreaming, engaging men, eliminating discrimination, and advancing and empowering women to participate effectively and fully in their communities." Email: abaad@abaadmena.org
  • The A Project: "The A project is about seeking agency, alternatives and autonomy in sexuality, sexual health, and gender. The project aims to address people living in Lebanon, young and not so young, through various programs. The project aims to work on sexuality, while looking at but not limiting the discussion to disease-prevention and violence, but also through an affirmative and sex-positive framework." Email: mashroualef@gmail.com, Hotline/ Whatsapp: +961 71 210 208, Skype: theaproject, Twitter: @MashrouAlef.
  • Lebanon Family Planning Association: "LFPADE Mission is to strengthen the work in order to promote development in all its scopes and exerting special efforts to narrow the gap caused by the limited contribution of the Youth and Women in the development process especially in local communities, and to Cooperation with public administrations and municipalities in order to enhance efforts to keep up with visions emerging in the areas of population and development."
  • KAFA: KAFA works to end all forms of gender-based violence
  • Fe-Male: "Fe-Male, a non-profit organization founded in 2012 by a group of young women and human rights activists; a civil non sectarian Lebanese association that works under the umbrella of Human Rights Charter to ensure women’s rights as integral part of human rights; raising awareness, empowerment and changing laws are our objectives and our methods of work."
  • Association Nadjeh: Works on women's rights issues in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon. Tel: (+961) 1 302079, (+961) 1 703357. Email: association@najdeh.org.lb.
  • HELEM: "Helem leads a peaceful struggle for the liberation of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community in Lebanon from all sorts of legal, social and cultural discrimination." Email: info@helem.net. Director's email: director@helem.net. +961 1 568160 , +961 71 916146 (hotline) Facebook page:click here
  • Proud Lebanon: "Proud Lebanon is non-religious, non-political, non-partisan civil rights society that aims to promote sustainable social & economic development in Lebanon and the region and will be working to achieve protection, empowerment and equality for marginalized groups through community service activities." Call +961 76 608 205. Email: info@proudlebanon.org.
  • Lebanese LGBT Monitor: "The Lebanese LGBT Media Monitor is a project by Raynbow, a nonprofit organization that helps empower and support the LGBT movement in Lebanon."
  • MOSAIC: "MOSAIC is a holistic program committed to improve the health and wellness of Marginalized groups in Lebanon and beyond. Through its national presence in Lebanon and its regional networks in the MENA region, MOSAIC strategic goal is to achieve the coexistence of people in friendly communities and national systems." Email: mosaic@mosaic-mena.org
  • Himaya: An NGO in Lebanon that works on issues related to child abuse by holding sessions, reaching out to community, etc. "Our Prevention Program’s main goals are to raise awareness and detect possible cases of abuse while on the ground. Our teams are responsible of sessions they give to parents, professionals and children alike regardless of their religions, nationalities or disabilities. They must select a number of topics suited to their audience, create stimulating activities as well as guide and inform their listeners while remaining diligent enough to detect children who might require our attention. "
  • The Anti-Racist Movement: The Anti-Racism Movement (ARM) was created by young activists in Lebanon in collaboration with migrant community leaders to challenge and fight racism in all its forms.
  • Nasawiya: This group may no longer be active. "Nasawiya is a group of feminists (women and men) who are working together to challenge all forms of gender oppression in Lebanon and the Arab world."
  • The Adventures of Salwa: This group may no longer be active. A campaign to fight sexual harassment.

References[edit]

  1. Contraception: Lebanese Lebanese Society of Family Medicine Lebanese Society Society of Family Me
  2. Bound by taboos, Lebanese women seek abortions
  3. IPFF - Lebanon.
  4. IPFF - Lebanon.
  5. Princeton EC Website
  6. Princeton EC Website
  7. Princeton EC Website
  8. Princeton EC Website
  9. Princeton EC Website
  10. LEBANON - REGULATIONS ON ENTRY, STAY AND RESIDENCE FOR PLHIV
  11. UN Report: Abortion Laws, Lebanon
  12. UN Report: Abortion Laws, Lebanon
  13. Abortion In Lebanon: Practice and Legality?
  14. Abortion In Lebanon: Practice and Legality?
  15. Bound by taboos, Lebanese women seek abortions