In December 2018, a British Embassy worker named Rebecca Dykes was out with a few female friends in Gemmayze, Beirut, when she ordered an Uber. She was found dead the following morning on the Metn highway.
The young victim, who was 30 years old at the time of her death, was found with a rope around her neck. Forensic examinations revealed that she had been raped and strangled to death.
Prior to her death, in January 2017, Dykes moved to Beirut, assuming a position as a program and policy manager for the UK’s Department for International Development in Lebanon.
41-year old Uber driver Tarek Houshieh was arrested in connection to the crime. He had a previous criminal record for assault and drug charges and had faked his driver’s license and other documents to be a taxi driver. He was found by CCTV footage and the tracking of information on his phone.
Houshieh prompted to confess to killing Dykes, alleging that she “was passing in and out of consciousness due to being drunk.” He said that the reason he killed her was that she was “wearing a short skirt.”
On November 1st, 2019, he was sentenced to death for the crime by a Mount Lebanon criminal court.
However, just this Thursday, February 20th, a judge in Lebanon’s highest court, Judge Jamal Al-Hajjar, made a decision to overturn the death sentence, without giving the reason, yet announced that there will be a hearing on March 5th.
While judges of Lebanon’s criminal courts continue to issue a death sentence in high criminal cases like this one, no execution has been carried since 2004. These cases get overturn to life imprisonment and hard manual labor.
Dykes’ murder, at the time, had pushed women’s rights activists in Lebanon to hold a vigil and demand better protection for women against violence.
The organizer, Leen Hashem, had told the crowd, “Society refuses to listen to us or see us until our blood is spilled.” She went on to add that “Justice is not only arresting the criminal. Justice is for all this not to happen to us in the first place.”
Following her death, Dykes’ family set up the Rebecca Dykes Foundation in her honor, supporting female talented and ambitious students who want to pursue their studies in human rights, development, and gender equality.
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