A Step Towards Gender Equality.

lebanon-civil-marriageApparently what unifies the clergy of major sects in Lebanon is the overzealous clench for power. For merely supporting civil marriage, one can be ostracized and be labelled as an apostate. The defense line for civil marriage supporters is that; the religious establishment have the monopoly to run our personal affairs by trying to block and threaten with divine wrath any alternative law that is attuned with International standards of human rights which provides equal rights to both partners under a civic umbrella.

The right to practice one’s belief and culture is a cherished human right; however harmful and deeply rooted beliefs are not more important than safeguarding women and children from such practices. The new Family Law should be compatible with the United Nation’s guidelines of Family Law:

Family law and marriage laws:

  • Legislation on marriage should protect women’s rights and guarantee equality. At a minimum, family and marriage laws should guarantee equal rights and responsibilities between women and men in marriage, divorce and dissolution; ensure that all marriages involve the free and full consent of both parties; establish a registration system for all marriages and births; provide for a marital property system that protects women’s right to equality; protect the rights of widows and girls to inherit; prohibit polygamous marriages, and; guarantee both parents equal rights and responsibilities with regard to children during marriage, divorce, dissolution, as well as with regard to children born outside of marriage. Drafters should ensure any constitutional protections against discrimination in marriage are codified in statutory law to ensure effective protection of women and girls.

Free and Full Consent in Entering a Marriage:

  • Legislation on marriage should require the free and full consent of both parties. To ensure to ensure that consent is freely and fully given, laws should provide the mechanisms necessary to determine valid consent.

Abolition of Bride Price

  • Legislation should prohibit the practice of bride price, or where payments or goods, such as livestock from the groom’s family are made to the bride’s family in exchange for the bride.

Annulment of a Forced Marriage and Divorce:

  • Drafters should consider the legal options for the survivor/complainant to end a levirate, sororate or other forced marriage. Laws should guarantee to women the same rights and responsibilities at the dissolution of a marriage as men. Laws regarding annulment of a marriage should safeguard both parties’ rights to property and guarantee them information regarding the proceedings. Any options for ending a marriage should protect her rights, including those related to property, child custody, immigration status and support.

Polygamous Marriages:

  • Legislation should prohibit polygamous marriage, which discriminates against women and has severe impacts on additional wives. For example, the death of the husband can diminish what security of tenure the additional wives may have, particularly when their inheritance is denied or fragmented.

Equal rights and responsibilities in marriage:

  • Legislation should guarantee equal rights and responsibilities to women and men in marriage.

Children:

  • Legislation should guarantee to women and men the same rights and responsibilities with regard to matters relating to their children, including guardianship, wardship, trusteeship and adoption.

Administration of Property and Entering into Contracts:

  • Legislation should grant equal rights to both spouses to administer property and enter into contracts.

Marital Property Systems:

  • Legislation should provide for a modified or partial community of property system in marriage to best protect women and widows. In the modified or partial community of property regime, property and money obtained during the marriage are considered joint property, even if registered under only one spouse’s name. Income and inheritance bequeathed jointly to both spouses (unless stipulated otherwise) are considered joint property.
  • Both spouses should have equal rights in the joint administration of marital property. In addition, both spouses should be entitled to joint titling of major assets, including the land and house, which requires the consent of both parties for mortgage, lease or sale.

Women’s Unpaid Contribution to the Household:

  • Legislation should also ensure that marital property systems account for women’s informal contribution to joint marital property. Laws should recognize women’s unpaid domestic labor, childrearing, and agricultural work as contributions to the value of marital property.

Equal Rights in Inheritance:

  • Legislation should prohibit discrimination against women and girls in inheritance and explicitly allow females to inherit property and land on an equal basis with males. Laws governing lines of succession should ensure equality of rank between mothers and fathers, between brothers and sisters, between daughters and sons, and between spouses. Legislation should state that civil laws shall have supremacy over customary laws and practices that discriminate against women and girls.
  • Legislation should state that, upon remarrying, a surviving spouse retains the full rights in any property she inherited from the deceased’s estate.

Equal right to inherit all types of property:

  • Legislation should ensure that wives and husbands are entitled to inherit equal kinds of property.

Protecting Widows and Girls’ Rights in Testate Succession:

  • Legislation should guarantee to both women and men, irrespective of marital status, the capacity to make a will. 
  • Legislation should mandate that every will should provide maintenance for dependents, which includes surviving spouses.

Protecting Widows and Girls’ Rights in Intestacy:

  • Inheritance laws should ensure equality between males and females’ right to inheritance in cases of intestacy. 

Developing Legislation – UN Women

I have one request for our Anti-Civil Family Law female readers; do an across-the-board comparison between the above, and your current religious family law, then tell me which one protects your right the most.

When we empower a man; we just empower one man. When empower a woman by giving her equal rights; we empower this generation and ones to come.

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Author: Ahmad Hachem

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