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Ellie Violet Bramley

Women’s rights in Lebanon, in a worse state than in Somalia?

 Image via www.trust.org

It may not come as a surprise that the results of a poll published today, giving a snapshot of the state of women’s rights in Arab states, does not leave Lebanon smelling of roses.

But, it may be surprising to find out just how much Lebanon’s record stinks, when set against other Arab states, many of them often trumpeted as synonymous with the ill-treatment of women.

For all of Lebanon’s apparent, often-lauded liberalism, the Thomson Reuters Foundation poll ranks Lebanon 16 out of 22 countries, sandwiched between Sudan at 17 and the Palestinian Territories at 15. Somalia comes in at 14. Lebanon also, incidentally, comes in behind countries such as Djibouti, Libya, Morocco, Jordan, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Algeria.

While Somalia came in as the world’s fifth most dangerous country for women in a 2011 Thomson Reuters poll, in this particular poll, which takes into account a much wider range of yardsticks, Lebanon fared worse.

This poll was designed not only to assess danger, but the extent to which states adhere to key provisions of the UN Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which come under six categories: women in politics, women in society, women in the economy, women in the family, reproductive rights, and violence against women.

Despite the fact that Lebanon acceded to CEDAW in 1997, the country rejects the articles relating to citizenship, equality in marriage, and family life.

The key statistics the poll draws out relating to the state of women’s rights in Lebanon:

-“In 2004, a woman held a ministerial position for the first time. Since then, there have been 3 female ministers”


-“Lebanese law does not address the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace”


-“54% of female business owners act as managers as compared with 90% of men”


-“Women are not permitted to transfer their citizenship to foreign-born husbands or children”


-“Women who perform illegal abortions on themselves can be sentences to 7 years in prison. Abortion is only legal in cases to save the life of the mother”


-“Article 533 of the Lebanese penal code permits a rapist to avoid prosecution if he marries his victim. There is no law against marital rape”

It really does make for grim, saddening reading.

Image via www.trust.org

It may be surprising to find out just how much Lebanon’s record stinks, when set against other Arab states"