Photo by Peter Feghali, Unsplash

This report documents and analyzes two recent major reforms in Lebanese law whose purpose is to further gender equality for women in Lebanon: (I) the alteration of the Sunni personal status law to allow mothers to keep their children with them for a longer time following divorce and (II) the promulgation of Law no. 293 of 2014, which deals with domestic violence. The first reform relates to the religiously based, personal status laws that control major aspects of a woman’s life in Lebanon. The second reform shows the importance of civil law in the fight for women’s rights and gender equality in the country and exemplifies, through its text and its implementation, the power struggle between Lebanon’s secular, progressive civil society and its patriarchal religious establishment.

The project Women’s Human Rights and Law Reform in the Muslim World seeks to map family and criminal law reforms in the period 1995–2015 in Afghanistan, Egypt, Iran, Lebanon, Morocco, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia and Yemen. How have women activists in Muslim countries advocated for legal reform in the years since the 1995 Beijing Declaration famously stated that “women’s rights are human rights”? The project is funded by the Rafto Foundation which is a non-profit and non-partisan organization dedicated to the global promotion of human rights. The project is part of an initiative taken by Rafto laureates Shirin Ebadi, Rebiya Kadeer, Malahat Nasibova, and Souhayr Belhassen, and facilitated by the Rafto Foundation to establish a Women’s Network, which is an international network of high-profile and influential women to improve women’s human rights and enhance gender equality in Muslim societies. In supporting local activists and civil society organizations with a common platform, the objective of the Women’s Network is to raise the voices of women in Muslim societies, and to address the religious, legal, social, political and cultural mechanisms that prevent women’s voices from being heard.

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