The double revolution of women in Lebanon


Beirut.- "For us the injustice is twofold." Women in Lebanon participate massively in the uprising to denounce a power considered corrupt and incompetent, but also to denounce that it deprives them of their rights and causes them to suffer discrimination.Macho violence, early marriages, discrimination in child custody and inability to transmit their nationality to their offspring: Lebanese complaints are not lacking in a country with very conservative legislation, even if in many ways society is one of the most liberal in the Arab world, AFP spread.

"In addition to the injustice suffered by the people, there are discriminatory laws against women," says Sahar, a woman in her 40s who participates in one of the many marches of women organized in Beirut since the protest movement against the Power on October 17.

"For us women, the injustice is twofold," he becomes indignant.

Hundreds of women and men marched at the beginning of the week from the National Museum to the Martyrs Square, the epicenter of the protests.

"Raise your voice, machismo must be eliminated," protesters chanted to the beat of drums. "Feminist revolution," "We will not wait for the revolution to end to claim our rights, we are the revolution," you could read in several banners.

Like men, protesters denounce the deficiency of public services, the shortage of water and electricity or youth unemployment.

But they also demand a true commitment from the State against sexist violence, responsible for the death of 37 women since the beginning of 2018, according to the Kafa feminist association.

They also want to repeal the different laws that govern personal status for each religious community., the provisions related to marriage, divorce, inheritance or custody of children, considered disadvantageous for women. Without forgetting an outdated law that prevents Lebanese from transmitting nationality to their children.

No religious influence

"There is no unified right to personal status, but several laws depending on the religious courts of the different communities of Lebanon," said Zoya Jureidini Rouhana, leader of the Kafa association.

In the Sunni community, women struggled to obtain child custody in 2011 until the age of 12. Among Shiites, mothers can stay with their children until they are two years old, and with their daughters until they are seven.

In the case of Catholics it is two years, before a court decides based on the interest of the child. For the members of the Greek Orthodox Church there are 14 years for boys, and 15 for girls.

The legal age to marry varies from one community to another, which paves the way for early marriages, especially among the most disadvantaged classes.

"These laws are discriminatory towards women, especially in relation to marriage or child custody," says Rouhana.

Protesters demand secular legislation, the same for everyone, freed from the influence of religious authorities.

"I want a secular system and a suppression of religious courts that do not protect the rights of women," insists Rim, a 24-year-old university student.

Revolt symbol

In recent years, NGOs that defend women's rights have made some progress, by mobilizing public opinion and attracting the attention of the media.

In 2014, the country finally adopted a law that, for the first time, punishes sexist violence thanks to an unprecedented campaign of civil society, after the death of several women at the hands of their husbands.

The NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW), which celebrated a "breakthrough" when this law was adopted, had lamented "serious loopholes," and that the legislation "does not adequately address the risk of spousal rape."

From the beginning of the uprising, a woman became one of the symbols of the popular revolt after a karateka kick in the crotch of a ministerial guard, who was armed with an automatic rifle, in Beirut.

The video went viral on social networks and was a source of inspiration for artists.

"The issue of women is an integral part of the revolution," says Rouba, a 33-year-old lawyer. "A revolution that does not provide solutions to the problem of women is a truncated revolution," he says.

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