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Women Demand Civil Rights in Lebanon

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- Parliament, for more than 50 years has refused to enable women married to foreigners to pass their nationality onto their husbands or even to their children because of the deeply embedded paternal guardianship culture supported by a majority of religious leaders from all 18 sects.

- Lebanese women are not allowed to open bank accounts for their children, and women, according to all of Lebanon's 18 religious courts, have no rights over their bodies. Simply put, Parliament accepts the notion that women's bodies are the sole personal property of their husbands.

- Parliament has consistently refused to lift Lebanon's reservations on Article 16 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which addresses equality between men and women in marriage and family life.

- Parliament has refused to amend the draft bill presented by women's rights activists in 2010, which was amended earlier in 2012 when a section that would criminalize marital rape was removed by the parliamentary subcommittee.

- All of the main political parties their MPs to express reservations regarding the draft bill, because, according to KAFA "they all agree that women have no rights over their bodies.

The Lebanese NGO, KAFA (Enough Violence and Exploitation), preparing for the election, is a fast growing civil rights organization whose mission is to achieve eradication of all forms of gender-based violence as well as the exploitation of women and children through advocating for legal reform and change of governmental policies and practices. One supporter of KAFA recently noted that "a husband in Lebanon can hit, rape or kill his wife and no one would raise an eyebrow. She is his "property," and nobody can do anything to protect her or hold him responsible." According to KAFA, "one woman dies every month as a result of family violence in Lebanon. Women have complained, petitioned and sometimes demonstrated against the unjust laws that allow such crimes to pass, but no one listens."

Hanin Ghaddar the managing editor of NOW Lebanon pledged this week a mission that many women and men agree with: "I will only vote for men and women candidates who have already stood by women. This time, as the region boils with hope and fear, the right to citizenship seems to be the fundamental feature behind every demand. The shaky "Spring" surrounding us cannot be complete without women's complete citizenship. Our vote is our spring. "

It's not the size of the electoral districts favored by this or that macho male political party for the 2013 election that is most satisfactory for women in Lebanon this election season. It's what the men who dominate Parliament and Lebanon will do with them.

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