Delving into the topic of gender equality should come second only to
actually having basic civil rights. It would be inaccurate to say that the absence of
civil codes in Lebanon only affects women negatively, however, they are the
demographic that suffers the most. Different women have their respective
experiences, and they suffer differently, whether they are of a certain social class,
race, religious background… etc. In Lebanon, different women suffer from almost
the same issues, regardless of their classification, as they are alienated from their
basic rights. No matter how rich or poor you are, if you are a woman in Lebanon, it
would be a far-fetched dream to grant your children the Lebanese citizenship, for
instance. One of our local NGOs, known as Abaad, still has to fight to abolish
archaic laws such as article 522 of the constitution, which allows rapists to escape
their punishment by marrying the rape victim. Fortunately, their efforts have been
met with popular support which ultimately lead to success. This was one of the
very few triumphs Lebanese women have been able to celebrate, but it seems
absolutely ridiculous, in our day and age, to celebrate abolishing a legal loophole
for rapists and sexual abusers, does it not? At Crossing Borders Lebanon, we aim
to join in that initiative of achieving sustainable development goal number five. It
is on the top of our list of priorities, and we hope to join in the efforts of all the
local NGOs who are lobbying for our family, partners, mothers, sisters, and
friends.

Six women currently hold seats in the Lebanese parliament. Six seats out of
one hundred and twenty eight, are occupied by females. Our minister for women’s
affairs is an Armenian man of an age group considered fit for retirement, and he is
not the only one. But if we were to discuss the hurdles Lebanon faces, from
strikingly old, to strikingly corrupt members of parliament who are often both, we
would not be able to allocate any time to discuss the rights of Lebanese women,
and that is usually the excuse given by those same MPs when asked about the
progress of our basic rights.

It’s not all dark and gloomy, though, since there are glimmers of hope just
beyond the horizon. We have four female ministers in our newly formed
government: Violet Khairallah, Nada Al Bustani, May Chidiac, and Raya Al
Hassan. Additionally, activists such as Joumana Haddad and MP Paula
Yaacoubian, have constantly taken to the streets, courts, and political arenas, to
voice their concerns. They ended up yielding much support and progress, no matter
how symbolic it may seem to some opposers. Mrs. Haddad herself was violently
stripped of her right to a seat in parliament overnight, during the 2018 elections.

By comparison, Lebanon seems to be one the most progressive in the Middle East
when it comes to the treatment of its female population. You can hear the echoing
choruses of the coopted chant “You can drive! You can wear short skirts!” And
that, is the pseudo progression of women’s rights that silences those who are
hesitant to object. But, does a woman care if she can drive, if she is driving back
home to marital rape, a concept not even recognized by Lebanese law? Doesn’t a
young lady think twice before donning that short skirt, in fear of being raped and it
being her fault for being so provocative in the first place? These are all cultural
advancements that have reached us before their prerequisites, and one cannot help
but question, are they on the way? Or are they never coming?

 

About the author: Tala Tlili holds a BA in International Affairs and Diplomacy. She is the Research Officer for Crossing Borders Lebanon, serves as the current Deputy representative for Lebanon at the IYF, is passionate about tolerance, change, and video games.

Categories: Crossing Borders Blog

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