HRW: Lebanon Religious Laws Violate Women's Rights

Bookmark this
January 20, 2015 By Naharnet Newsdesk

Lebanese laws and courts governing marriage and child custody "discriminate against women" from all religious groups, often trapping them in abusive unions, a Human Rights Watch report published Monday said.

The small Arab country has a fragile mosaic of Christian and Muslim communities of multiple denominations whose right to oversee their own religious courts is enshrined in the constitution.

"Lebanon has 15 separate personal status laws for its recognized religions but no civil code covering issues such as divorce, property rights or care of children," the New York-based group said.

"These laws are administered by autonomous religious courts with little or no government oversight, and often issue rulings that violate women's human rights."

The 114-page report, titled "Unequal and Unprotected: Women's Rights Under Lebanon's Religious Personal Status Laws," interviews women from across Lebanon's sectarian spectrum and analyses hundreds of legal judgements.

It says Sunni and Shiite Muslim women have limited access to divorce, while "men... have a unilateral, unlimited right to pronounce a divorce, with or without cause".

Neither Christian men nor women are allowed to divorce, but "there are instances that allow men more grounds" for divorce or annulment.

Druze women also have limited access to divorce, "while Druze men can obtain a divorce, with or without cause", said the report.

All Lebanese women suffer from a lack of protection from domestic violence, as well as financial vulnerability if they do divorce an abusive husband, the group said.

In 2014, Lebanon's parliament passed a landmark law on domestic violence.

While it marked a significant step forward for women, it defined domestic violence "narrowly, thus failing to provide adequate protection", said HRW.

In the event of conflict between the new domestic violence law and pre-existing personal status laws, the latter take precedence, the report added.

And women who decide to divorce still face serious financial consequences, as "Lebanese law does not recognize the legal concept of marital property".

After a marriage ends, "property reverts to the spouse in whose name it is registered (typically the husband), regardless of who has made contributions to it".

The issue of child custody is just as problematic, according to the report, violating the standards set by the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

"Human Rights Watch interviewed women who stayed in abusive marriages, gave up their monetary rights, and did not remarry to maintain primary care of their children in cases where judges did not consider the best interests of the child," the report said.

One Christian woman, Mireille, was quoted by HRW as saying: "I forced myself to bear beyond what a human being can take, all the injustices and violence. My daughters, who are my soul and my life, were the main reason... I couldn't even bear the idea of losing them."

The watchdog called for fundamental changes to ensure equal rights for all Lebanese, regardless of gender or religion.

Source: Agence France Presse


Recent Articles

Bank of Beirut Internship

Bank of Beirut Internship

in Community News

CALLING ALL 3rd Year UNI STUDENTS; Work experience with the Bank of Beirut, Lebanon. This is initiated by the World Patriarchal Maronite Foundation for Integral Development and Bank of Beirut, in cooperation with Western Sydney University (WSU).

May 31, 2019

عودة لبنان الى قائمة الفاتيكان للحج الديني

عودة لبنان الى قائمة الفاتيكان للحج الديني

in World News, Local News, Church News

زار وفد من الوكالة الفاتيكانية للسياحة الدينية بيروت لدفع الترتيبات الخاصة بعودة الوكالة إلى لبنان وادراجه في لائحة دول السياحة الدينية بعد انقطاع امتد لسنوات

February 7, 2019 By AL-MOHAJER

Israeli Museum under Fire over 'McJesus' Exhibit

Israeli Museum under Fire over 'McJesus' Exhibit

in World News

A fast-food clown nailed to a cross has united its Finnish creator with Holy Land Christians demanding the artwork's removal from an exhibition at an Israeli museum.

January 15, 2019

Salameh: Money Transfer Firms Must Not Pay in Dollar to Recipients

Salameh: Money Transfer Firms Must Not Pay in Dollar to Recipients

in Local News

Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh on Monday called on all money transfer companies operating in Lebanon, such as Western Union and OMT, to exclusively use Lebanese currency when dispensing foreign cash transfers to recipients.

January 15, 2019