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The New Arab Staff

Lebanon falling short on women's rights: HRW

Women in Lebanon frequently point out human rights abuses against them [Getty]

Date of publication: 6 November, 2020

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Human Rights Watch has slammed Lebanon for failing to protect women from human rights abuses and not making progress on women's rights.

Lebanon is falling short of its international legal obligations to protect women and girls from violence and gender discrimination, a report published on Wednesday by Human Rights Watch has revealed.

Human Rights Watch submitted the report to the United Nations Committee reviewing Lebanon’s compliance with the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), and it found the country has not made progress to carry out a number of recommendations from its previous review in 2015.

"Another five years have passed, and Lebanon has done little to end discrimination against women and girls under its international obligations," said Aya Majzoub, Lebanon researcher at Human Rights Watch.

"Lebanon’s authorities should show that they are serious about women’s rights by coming through on long-overdue reforms before they have to answer to the United Nations again for their failures."

The report points to the country’s civil code and religious courts, all of whom "discriminate against women across the religious spectrum and do not guarantee their basic rights," especially when it comes to divorce and property.

In addition, legal protections from domestic violence, sexual assault, and harassment remain "inadequate". 

Human Rights Watch has documented how women and girls, especially trans women, sex workers, refugees, and asylum seekers, have experienced systemic violence from Lebanese authorities, particularly in detention centers.

Trans women have described being placed in men’s cells, being denied food and water, and being coerced to confess.

Allegations of sexual violence, including rape, against women in custody are common.

For example, Layal al-Kayaje was arrested on September 21, 2015 for "harming the military’s reputation" after she alleged being raped and tortured by two soldiers while previously in military custody in 2013.

"For the past year, women from all walks of life have taken to the streets to demand equality and an end to all forms of discrimination," Majzoub said.

"While the authorities have taken some steps, they need to heed calls for systemic change for equality."

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