Thursday, July 24, 2008

Women & the Law in Lebanon

I came across this curious piece from the Daily Star - apparently women in Lebanon cannot, under Law, pass on their citizenship to their children. Only males can do this. Which, no doubt, poses many a problem for a woman. Apparently it all comes down to whether the woman in question is married to a Lebanese "national" or a "foreigner" - that is her husband is not, by birth, Lebanese. This is really, for me, a rather confusing issue - coming, as I do, from a country that recognises the citizenship of all - male and female.

Here's a bit from the article:
"Thousands of children in Lebanon are denied full access to education, healthcare and residency because they do not have Lebanese citizenship. Lebanese women cannot pass on their nationality to their children and in the event of separation, it is the father who gains automatic custody, according to Lebanese nationality law.

The nationality law was established in 1925 and partially reformed in 1994 in a complex decree. According to a 2008 report by the non-governmental organization Frontiers Association, the 1994 amendment allows the child of a Lebanese mother and foreign father to gain Lebanese citizenship after the child's marriage to a Lebanese, and at least five years uninterrupted residency in the country, including one year after marriage."

The article further tackles the issue of female representation in the political field:
"There is a saying in Lebanon: The only woman you'll see in Parliament is the one wearing black, mourning for the death of her husband or brother, whose political mantle she has inherited.

Women were only present in parliamentary life twice between 1952 and 1962 and then not again until three female members of Parliament (MPs) won seats in the 1992 elections. In the last Lebanese parliamentary elections in 2005 only three MPs out of 128 were women - far fewer than politically restricted neighbors such as Syria, which had 30 women MPs out of 250; Jordan which had 13 out of 165; and Egypt which had 31 out of 718. "

Am I being naive in thinking that the only time a woman can enter the political field is when she is widowed or suffers some other traumatic personal loss?? I hope this is not the trend for the future. Maybe a little more female guidance .....

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