Sunday, October 14th, 2012
The election preparations are part of the open confrontation between the March 8 (pro Iran) and March 14 (pro US-Saudi) forces and expose contradictory and incompatible positions and they seek to undermine the others ability to achieve a parliamentary majority.
However, the Druze leader maintains his rejection of an electoral law based on proportional representation, which he believes is aimed at eliminating a major political camp, a National Struggle Front, PSP sources told Naharnet Newsdesk on 10/7/12.
March 14’s Christian parties are insisting on a law that would divide Lebanon into 50 small districts under a winner-takes-all-system. The proposal has drawn the ire of Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun who labels it a “political division” and who demands a law that would require that every sect elects its own MPs, under a proportional representation system with all Lebanon as a single huge district.
As the Daily Star’s Michael Young has pointed out, lest there be any doubt as to how futile the debate over a new election law has become, they were dispelled recently when the parliament speaker, Nabih Berri, announced that he supported “the formation of a parliamentary subcommittee to discuss such legislation.” This is well known code language meaning that Parliament will soon sweep the electoral reform discussion into a labyrinth of incessant recrimination and down a black hole to oblivion, just as has been the case with respect to women’s, domestic worker’s, and Palestinian elementary civil rights.
Against this backdrop of Parliamentary paralysis, more Lebanese women than ever before are getting organized to participate in next year’s Parliamentary elections and vowing that current representatives in parliament will not be given another chance if they did not support or pledge to guarantee women’s rights. Their initiatives are being supported by many in Lebanon’s 250,000 Palestinian refugee community since both women and Palestinian civil rights groups in recent years have come to believe that if and when one group gains any rights it will aid the other.
Among the many failures of Lebanon’s politicians to accept women’s rights are those noted below, part of a list being circulated by women’s organizations. Historically, women’s rights advocacy groups here is Lebanon were relatively weak and widely ridiculed by deep and pervasive paternalism.
Women In Parliament: TILTED
· Parliament has consistently refused to enact laws identifying Marital rape as even a crime;
· Domestic violence is not taken seriously by the Government of Lebanon and no police protection is available;
· 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.
Franklin Lamb is doing research in Lebanon. He is reachable c\o email@example.com