Ms. Taghrid Kerbej presented the session, and spoke about the importance of the international agreements that Lebanon signed and did not implement, including the Convention on the Elimination of Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and others. Where discrimination still exists against Lebanese and Palestinian women in the labor and wages law.. Kerbej pointed out that violence in general and against women in particular has become a spreading and frightening phenomenon at the same time, and therefore the relevant laws must be updated to provide protection for women in all workplaces and to ensure gender justice, importance of approving a unified civil code for personal status, implementing all international agreements to guarantee human rights, and speeding up the ratification of ILO Convention 190.
Dr. Marie Nassif -Debs and Mrs. Khalidat Hussein were presented.
Debs (President of the MWB)
Dr. Marie Nassif-Debs Confirmed that violence against women and the discrimination that they suffer from were not deterred by the applicable laws, but rather exacerbated it. Domestic violence was not deterred by the hybrid law (No. 293) issued by the House of Representatives in 2014 under the name “Law on the Protection of Women and Other Family Members from Domestic Violence” because the legislator adopted a broad concept of the family to include “any of the spouses, the father, the mother of either of them, the brothers, sisters, ascendants and descendants, whether they are legal or not, and those who are joined by the bond of adoption or intermarriage up to the second degree, guardianship, or sponsorship of an orphan, stepfather or stepfather.” .. Noting that abused men constitute rare cases and that children and juveniles follow a law of their own… Considering that the danger is that many articles of the law (Article 6, which talks about the amendments to Article 498 of the Penal Code – Article 7 in its paragraphs A and assert that “the complainant’s waiver drops the public right lawsuit”… and we know the extent of pressures that a woman can face, first to prevent her from submitting a complaint, and secondly to deter her from continuing the complaint submitted by her, by using other forms of violence, including specifically threatening to prevent her from seeing her children. Moreover, the most important thing is to cancel the effects of the law and suspend its contents if they contradict the 15 sectarian personal status laws, especially since women are secondary and marginalized in all of these laws because these laws form the basis for the forces that make up the Lebanese system in their control over the citizens, and because they direct the personal and family life in a direction that serves to perpetuate their control, starting with the distinction between the role of men and women in the family, to allowing the marriage of underage girls, to infringing on the rights of Lebanese women in the areas of care, guardianship, to rejecting the right of a woman married to a non-Lebanese to pass her nationality to her children, to the right of inheritance and the right to participate in political decision-making.
Debs focused on the labor law and its violence against women, which is reflected in the world of work, sometimes through discrimination in wages and position, and sometimes through verbal and psychological violence, and we should not forget about harassment in all its manifestations. We also do not forget the qualitative dismissal, which in the last two years – according to a study issued by the United Nations – reached more than one million male and female workers, male and female employees, the majority of whom are women and youth. She pointed out that the demand for “equal pay for equal work” is still raised, despite its presence in a law approved by the House of Representatives. As for the reason, the executive authority, specifically the Ministry of Labor, is refraining from drafting implementing decrees that help implement the amendments made to them, given that employers are the power.
As for the comprehensiveness of the law, Dibs drew attention to the seventh article of it, which excludes from its provisions “servants in the homes of individuals, agricultural unions, and those that have nothing to do with trade and industry, and institutions in which only family members work under the management of the father, mother or guardian, Government departments and municipalities with regard to employees and daily and temporary workers who are not covered by the employees’ system”, bearing in mind that the aforementioned employee system prevents the right of syndicate organization for workers in the private sector, as associations have replaced syndicates, although these associations have been able in their long course to do functions of the syndicates.
Debs concluded that eliminating discrimination and violence against women requires a struggle for:
• Amending Law 293 to become the Law on the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence and canceling any link between it and sectarian personal status laws, which constitute a waiver by the political authorities of the right to legislate towards safeguarding the rights of their citizens.
• Completing the campaign related to lifting the reservation to Article 16 of the International (CEDAW), related to marriage and family relations, and continuing the struggle to abolish sectarian personal status laws and replace them with a unified civil law whose one of its provisions prohibit the marriage of underage girls and set the age of eighteen as the age for marriage …
• Completing the move aimed at canceling the reservation made by the Lebanese government to Article 9 of CEDAW regarding the right of women to pass on their nationality to their children… and amending the Nationality Law, specifically the first paragraph of Article 1 thereof, so that “every person born of a Lebanese mother or from a Lebanese father is considered Lebanese.”.
• Reconsidering the provisions of the Labor Law towards updating it and eliminating the impurities that are still attached to it, and setting implementation decrees to implement the amendments related to wages and other rights.
• Conclusion of Convention 190 on the elimination of violence and harassment in the world of work, which helps to secure equal opportunities for all, especially women, and thus secures decent work.
This ambitious program requires us to struggle for a new election law outside of sectarian constraint and on the basis of proportionality and Lebanon as one district, and to elect someone who carries our program and fights for it…
Khalidat Hussein (Member of the General Secretariat of the General Union of Palestinian Women)
Khalidat Hussein, in her intervention, focused on the situation of Palestinian women under the Israeli occupation, and the situation of Palestinian refugee women in Lebanon. In the occupied Palestinian territories, the suffering of Palestinian women is twofold, firstly because they are Palestinians who have historically been affected, and are still affected by, the repercussions of the Israeli occupation and its aggressive, racist, settlement policies, and secondly, because they are women who, like other Arab women, and in the world, are subjected to various forms of discrimination and violence against women. As for the West Bank, including Jerusalem, Palestinian women suffer from the escalation of Israeli aggression within the context of the plan to annex parts of the West Bank to the Israeli entity. They also suffer from ethnic cleansing measures, which translate itself into forced evictions and demolition of homes on the residents, especially in Jerusalem and currently in the neighborhoods of Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan. Moreover, in the Gaza Strip, the weight of the devastating siege and repeated Israeli attacks against civilians continue. Whereas in the Palestinian territories occupied in 1948, the occupation continues the policies of national discrimination, ethnic cleansing and land confiscation.
On the other hand, Palestinian women are subjected to discrimination and gender-based violence in national laws and legislation, and they face difficulty in accessing justice, especially issues related to inheritance, child custody and other personal status issues. It must also be pointed out that women’s knowledge of their rights is limited. However, in cases of women’s access to judicial services, a male-mind dominates the providers of these services and lack professional knowledge in dealing with cases of women victims of violence, and they still interpret the old texts of criminal laws and personal status law in a way that violates human rights.
As for the suffering of Palestinian refugee women in Lebanon, Khalidat Hussein stressed that the discriminatory policy that successive Lebanese governments have practiced and are still practicing towards Palestinian refugees, which translates itself into depriving them of civil and social rights, still exists, which exacerbates the deprivation of economic rights. At this level, Palestinian refugee women are more severely affected by the restrictions imposed on the work of Palestinian refugees, and most Palestinian female workers practice their professions without work permits, and they also suffer from lack of job security and from exploitation practiced by employers, often depriving them of end-of-service compensation, noting that the amendments that affected Article 9 of the Lebanese Social Security Law, which The Lebanese Parliament introduced in August 2010, theoretically allows Palestinian refugees to obtain compensation from a separate and independent account due to the contribution of Palestinian refugee workers. But the approved amendments to the article were not supported by implementation decrees. Under the exceptions that still exist in the Lebanese Social Security Law, Palestinian refugee women are deprived of the contributions of the security funds earmarked for sickness and maternity benefits, knowing that they are obligated, like other Palestinian refugees, to pay social security fees, without benefiting from its services. Furthermore, Palestinian workers are deprived of maternity leave in addition to being subjected to abuse, sexual harassment and moral violence in work centers. Palestinian workers also lack the syndicate umbrella that defends their rights, which the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions is supposed to represent.
Hussein added that Palestinian refugees lack protection mechanisms and social safety networks, which hinder their access, especially women, to health services, hospitalization, medicine, food and adequate housing. Pointing out that this shortcoming falls within the scope of UNRWA’s responsibilities which is asked to adopt an emergency health and relief plan to protect Palestinian families, especially those supported by women. Noting that the repercussions of the economic collapse and home quarantine measures to prevent Covid-19 without meeting people’s living needs, have produced severe tensions in family relations and an escalation of violence against Palestinian women in the camps. During the period between the beginning of the year 2019 – until the end of April 2020, the number of women exposed to violence increased by 58% compared to 27% in the same period of the previous year. Furthermore, Palestinian refugee women face difficulty in accessing justice, or referral centers specialized in providing legal aid and shelter because of the political conditions and security restrictions in the camps and the fatherhood structure of local governance tools, popular committees, and security committees that do not consider that one of their tasks is to facilitate the enforcement of Lebanese law relating to the protection of women and family members from violence or to facilitate the procedures for handing over perpetrators of violence against women to justice. She also pointed out that violence against Palestinian refugee women from Syria to Lebanon in the public and private spheres is rising more as a result of the changes that displacement has produced on family relations and their lack of appropriate protection mechanisms.
Hussein concluded by stressing that we, as Palestinian refugees, are subject to Lebanese law, which still discriminates against women, especially with regard to personal status laws. Therefore, we participate in the movements of women’s bodies and Lebanese civil society institutions in the struggle to abolish discrimination against women in laws and legislation, introduce a civil law for personal status, and develop the laws related to protecting women from gender-based violence.
Beirut – Le Commodore Hotel – July 10, 2021
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