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Lebanon made no progress in protecting women and girls in five years


Human Rights Watch (HRW) said that Lebanon broke its promises to protect women and girls’ rights. According to a report submitted to the United Nations Committee reviewing the country’s commitment to the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and scheduled for June 2021, Lebanon has not made progress to implement the international recommendations. In this respect, Lebanon Researcher at HRW, Aya Majzoub, said another five years have passed and the authorities have done little to end discrimination against women and girls. They should show seriousness about women’s rights by carrying out long-overdue reforms before they are pressed to answer to the UN again for their non-compliace, Mahzoub maintained. The organization criticized in the report the failure of the Lebanese government to enact laws that protect women, stressing on the civil status and nationality laws in particular. Noting, that the nationality law prohibits Lebanese women married to foreigners from passing citizenship to their children which affects all aspects of the children’s and spouses’ lives, including residency and access to work, education, social services and health care, while also leaving children at risk of statelessness. Concerning the unified civil code, the report indicated that the country puts up with 15 religious-based personal status laws controlled by religious courts who discriminate against women across all the sects without ensuring their basic rights. The report also drew attention to the unified standard work contract for migrant domestic workers recently adopted by the labor ministry. It voiced concern over the decision by the Shura Council to suspend it indefinitely, while reminding that it could have been a major step towards abolishing the abusive kafala (sponsorship) system. The Human Watch Report also considered that the legal protection measures against domestic violence, sexual assault and harassment are not enough. Commenting on the HWR, Lina Abu Habib, activist and feminist researcher at Asfari Institute, AUB, stated that the objective report reduces to nothing the credibility of contaminated misleading opinions of the political elite. It came to confirm that nothing has actually changed, and that the sectarian laws are still dominant, she said, adding, the Lebanese woman remains deprived of her right to confer nationality to her children from a non-Lebanese father. Over and above, there has been no useful development since the enactment of the controversial domestic violence bill, Abu Habib noted. Women’s rights, she clarified, are fundamental constituents of democracy, which explains why these rights are marginalized in a system ruled by nepotism and corruption. In conclusion, Abu Habib said the HRW report will be a helpful and valuable tool for the feminist movement, especially that it puts forward its main demands. (To view the Human Rights Watch report in English, kindly visit the following link:’Orient Le Jour, Human Rights Watch website, November 5, 2020)

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