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Women's action against Jaafari courts, calls for reform of laws


On the occasion of Mother’s Day, the National Campaign to Raise Children’s Custody Age within the Shiite Community launched the “Mothers’ Initiative” aimed to alleviate the suffering of women in Jaafari courts. The initiative, according to Zeina Ibrahim, president of the campaign, does not involve changing laws or legal Fatwas, but is based on endorsing the fatwa of a notable religious authority in each sect, which stipulates that a woman has the right of custody of her children until the age of seven. Ibrahim told Al Akhbar that the fatwa should provide for a “joint custody”, demanding a 4-day right of visitation instead of 24 hours. On the occasion, mothers deprived of custody of their children staged a sit-in in front of the Supreme Islamic Shia Council to remind authorities of their cause and to request a change of the age of custody. Also, “Sarkhat Nisaa’ Al Janub” and “Tyre Uprising” groups organized a rally in front of the Jaafari Court in Tyre demanding an amendment of the custody laws and stressing the right of the Lebanese woman to pass nationality to her children. Meanwhile, in the latest unfair judgment against women, Jaafari Judge, Sheikh Jaafar Kawtharani, disclaimed earlier this month, the right of Vera Aql in the custody of her daughter, 6 years, revoking the temporary custody she received from the court in 2019 following her husband’s travel and residence outside Lebanon, and decided to grant custody to the child’s grandfather (on the father’s side). On the other hand, the head of the Sharia Court of the Supreme Islamic Shia Council, Ali Makki, stressed the visitation right for the mother denied child custody which reduced parenting time to 24 hours, is wide of the mark, denying the existence of any such sharia document to this effect. In an interview with Nabatiyeh Facebook page last Monday, Makki said he advised courts to thoroughly understand the texts, specifically the definition and meaning of custody. He explained that the determination of child custody is not final, underlining the importance of joint custody. He mentioned abusing loopholes in the court system, in form and practice, since the sixties of the past century, and the need for a reform law passed by the Legislature. Makki said, that he, in agreement with the head of the Supreme Islamic Shia Council, has submitted a proposal for reform of the Jaafari court system. For her part, the president of the Mother and Child Parliamentary Committee, MP Inaya Ezzedine, denied to Al Akhbar the presence of a Joint Custody initiative or the amendment of the visitation rights for mothers. The Committee, she said, welcomes any reform plans in this regard, insisting on the need for equal parenting and caregiving. (Al Akhbar, Al Diyar, March 23, 25, 2021)

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