Adonis Diaries

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Charity (Fawcett Society) warns 8 million women won’t vote in the general election on June 8

A century anniversary for voting women

With two weeks left to register to vote, the Fawcett Society is warning that millions of women are set to miss out on the chance to have their say as they celebrate almost 100 years since the right to vote was granted

By 9 MAY 2017

There are a “missing eight million” women who won’t vote in the general election on June 8.

Shocking figures compiled by the Fawcett Society, the UK’s leading charity for gender equality, also reveal that fewer women than men are registered to vote.

An average of recent polling shows that 2.5% points fewer women than men say they are certain to vote.

When applied to turnout at the 2015 general election this could see eight million women not exercising their rights, half a million more than the 7.5 million men who are not certain they’ll vote.

There is also a gap in voter registration with 2.5% points fewer women than men saying that they are currently on the register.

With the deadline to register to vote just two weeks away, the charity is warning that millions of women won’t be able to have their say almost a hundred years after women won the right.

Actors (L-R) Anne-Marie Duff, Carey Mulligan and Helena Bonham Carter take part in filming of the movie Suffragette at Parliament
Actors (L-R) Anne-Marie Duff, Carey Mulligan and Helena Bonham Carter take part in filming of the movie Suffragette at Parliament (Photo: Getty Images)
The charity is also urging candidates to take on board their women’s manifesto.Fawcett Chief Executive Sam Smethers said: “Almost 100 years on from the first women getting the right to vote, we still see what is likely to be a significant gap in turnout by gender.

“We are calling on all women to make sure they register to vote before the deadline.”

“With the overall gender pay gap still at 18%, violence against women and girls still rife in our society, and Brexit posing a risk to hard-fought protections, it is as important as ever that women have a say.

“We urge women across the country to take these demands to their candidates.”

Sam Smethers of the Fawcett Society said society is quick to blame the victims of sexual assault
Sam Smethers of the Fawcett Society is encouraging all women to have their say (Photo: PA Photo/Handout)

Fawcett analysis also shows that, across different polls, women have different priorities to men in the general election.

Women consistently view the NHS as a more prominent issue, with 63% in an average of polls saying it is key compared with 50% of men.

Men are slightly more concerned with Brexit , with 50% rating it as an important issue versus 45% for women.

The charity’s manifesto calls for measures to get more women into power, including for at least 45% of parties’ parliamentary candidates to be women.

How Facebook, fake news and personalised ads could swing the 2017 election – and what you can do about it

Other key recommendations include:

· Women to be represented at every level and stage of Brexit negotiations.

· An increase in the national living wage to bring it up to the level of the real living wage.

· An extended, dedicated, well paid period of leave for fathers

Suffragette demonstration in London, 21st March 1906
Suffragette demonstration in London, 21st March 1906 (Photo: Mirrorpix)

· A requirement for large companies who have to report their gender pay gaps to have an action plan in place, and penalties for those who do not comply.

· A long-term, national, and sustainable funding strategy for specialist women-only services including domestic violence refuges, in order to meet our Istanbul Convention obligations.

· A National Care Service, giving social care parity with the NHS, and investing in social care infrastructure with a professionalised care workforce.

The Manifesto also addresses equal representation, defending women’s rights post- Brexit , ending violence against women and girls, and ensuring women are not hardest hit by any economic downturn or spending cuts.

How do I register to vote?

Visit gov.uk/register-to-vote and fill in 11 questions.

They include your name, address, National Insurance number and whether you want a postal vote.

There’s not much else you need to fill in.

12 Things About Being A Woman That Women Won’t Tell You

Hey, I’m not going to womansplain feminism to the readers of Esquire! That’s not happening on my watch!

You’re sophisticated, 21st century men with a copy of the El Bulli cookbook, a timeless pair of investment brogues and a couple of Joni Mitchell albums — for when you want to sit in your leather armchair, and have a little, noble, necessary man-cry.

You don’t need me lecturing you — because you’re not hanging out the back of a bus shouting “CLUNGE!” at a bunch of terrified 15-year-old girls.

You’ve got sisters, mothers, lovers — female friends and colleagues — and you’ve never once gone up to any of them shouting, “Blimey! You don’t get many of those to the pahnd!” while honking on their breasts, in the manner of Sid James.

You’re down with the sisterhood. You’ve got eyes. You know what’s going on out there. You’ve noted that while society’s happy for a famous man to age, and become distinguished, and generally wander around looking like a fucking wizard, the women generally still seem to be 20 years younger, and standing there on the cover of magazines, all like, “Oh! My clothes… they fell off!” EVEN IF IT’S DAME JUDI DENCH.

You know the pay disparity; still 20 per cent less for women in this country, and not a single prosecution, even though it’s literally illegal.

You know babies come out of vaginas and it fucking stings, and that the vaginas are having a hard time anyway, what with all the waxing they get.

(That’s £20 a pop, my friend. Every single month. Just to feel normal. It’s basically VAT on your minge. Imagine if you had to get your bum-hole stripped every 30 days — lest the mean girls at school corner you on the bus home and go, “I’ve heard you’re like Catweazle down there. Someone  who fingered you said it was like diddling a Gonk. Ugh.”)

You’ve seen Amy Schumer’s brilliant, edgy sketches on contraception and rape, and laughed along with them. You’ve called Donald Trump “a twat” for his sexist comments about a female news anchor being on her period.

You’ve watched the whole Caitlyn Jenner trans thing unfold and gone, “You know what — this all seems fair enough. I am down with the trans thing.”

So, no. I’m not going to womansplain feminism to you. It’s the 21st century and you are, most assuredly, not a dick.

You like women being equal to men — which is all that feminism means. Not all the penises being burned in a Penis Bonfire. Just women being equal to men.

You are like my friend John, when he talks about dating alpha-women: “Feel intimidated by them? Christ, no. Dating and marrying powerful women is like big game hunting. I fuck tigers and panthers. Not… chihuahuas.”

No. You get feminism. You don’t need Tits McGee here to take you through it one more time.

So, what I am going to do, instead, is tell you 12 things about women that women are usually too embarrassed to tell you themselves. Because I am a chronic over-sharer, and incapable of keeping secrets. I’m like that other Deep Throat. The chatty Watergate one. That’s the Deep Throat I am.

1. No mumbling  about FEMINISM and  ENVIRONMENT

Like you, we feel a bit embarrassed about saying the word “feminism”. It’s the same as when you say the word “environment”. They both have that slight implication of, “I’m now going to launch into a speech that’s basically about what a great person I am”.

Unfortunately, in both cases, the entire future of the world does rest on people being able to say those words properly, and not mumbling “femernism”, or “envibeoment”.

You just have to shut yourself in a cupboard and say them over and over again — “FEMINISM! ENVIRONMENT! FEMINISM! ENVIRONMENT!” — until they feel as normal as saying “pina colada”, or “Michael Fassbender”. Which are both, when you think about it, much odder-sounding.

2. ‘The Man’

So, when women talk about “The Man”, we’re not talking about you. You’re just a man. You’re not The Man.

Similarly, when we talk about the patriarchy, that’s not you, either. You’re not the patriarchy. You’re just… Patrick.

When we’re doing those “MEN!” chats, we’re just identifying the general locus of the problem, ie, most of the power and influence being held by a small amount of men.

Because remember that patriarchy’s bumming you as hard as it’s bumming us. We’re bulimic, objectified and under-promoted. You, meanwhile, are unable to talk about your feelings lest you get punched in the nuts by “a lad” telling you not to be “a bender”.

You are unlikely to get custody of your kids, and are three times more likely to commit suicide.

Feminism’s about sorting all this stuff out. Because it’s about equality. Not burning the penises. I can’t emphasise enough how much it’s not about burning penises. No burnt penises here.

3. Periods

We’re still pretty traumatised about our periods, even though we’re now 40.

Being a woman doesn’t make “being a woman” any easier. All that womb-shit is nuts. It’s like having an exploding, insane blood-bag of pain up in your business end — nothing really prepares you for when it all kicks off.

One day, you’re just a kid on your bike. The next, you’re suddenly having to wedge a tiny Barbie mattress in your knickers, crying while you watch Bergerac, and eating Nurofen Plus like they’re Tic Tacs.

Men, imagine if, some time around your 12th birthday, some manner of viscous gravy-like liquid  suddenly appeared in your pants, in the middle of a maths lesson. And then it turned up every month for the next 30 years. You’d be all like “NO!” and “WTF?!?!” and “SRSLY??? THIS????”

That’s what we’re like, too. We’re not wise, or in touch with nature, or down with it. We’re just people with a whole load more laundry issues than you.

Have you ever tried to scrub blood out of a Premier Inn sheet at 6am, using just travel shampoo and your toothbrush? It’s one of the defining aspects of being a woman.

Tom Hanks And Emma Watson Cover Our Women & Men Issue
How To Be A Male Feminist

4. Abortion

Likewise, imagine accidentally getting pregnant at 16, then having to run past a barrage of anti-abortion protestors outside your local clinic, all holding up pictures of dead foetuses. We’re not dealing with this in a special, noble lady-way.

We’re like, “THIS IS ALREADY A REALLY SHIT DAY. I PRESUME YOUR CONCERN FOR THE WELFARE OF CHILDREN EXTENDS INTO A LIFE SPENT VOLUNTEERING IN CARE HOMES, FOSTERING AND DONATING YOUR WAGES TO THE NSPCC — AND DOESN’T SOLELY REST ON HARASSING AND ABUSING TEARFUL, POSSIBLY RAPED WOMEN WHO ARE TRYING TO GET A SAFE, LEGAL MEDICAL PROCEDURE SO THEY DON’T FUCK UP THE REST OF THEIR LIVES.”

Here’s another thing we’re too embarrassed to say: we’d love it if a big bunch of pro-choice men turned up at these clinics, and helped escort the scared women in. That would be some top bro solidarity.

5. Talking

In the last year or so, we saw this study, from America, and it broke our hearts a bit, because it explains so much: in a mixed-gender group, when women talk 25 per cent of the time or less, it’s seen as being “equally balanced”. And if women talk 25–50 per cent of the time, they’re seen as “dominating the conversation”.

And we remembered all the times on social media, or in conversations, an angry man has said, “Women are WINNING now. Women are EVERYWHERE. It is MEN who are being silenced”, and it all made sense.

6. Fear

We’re scared. We don’t want to mention it, because it’s kind of a bummer, chat-wise, and we’d really like to talk about stuff that makes us happy, like look at our daughters — and we can’t help but think, “Which one of us? And when?”

We walk down the street at night with our keys clutched between our fingers, as a weapon. We move in packs — because it’s safer. We talk to each other for hours on the phone — to share knowledge. But we don’t want to go on about it to you, because that would be morbid.

We just feel anxious. We’re scared. Given the figures, we can’t sometimes help but feel we’re just… waiting for the bad thing to come. Because that would be a realistic thing to think, and we like to be prepared. Awfully, horribly, fearfully prepared.

7. Tired

We’re tired. So, so tired. From the moment we grew our tits, we’ve been cat-called in the street; commented on by relatives (“Ooooh, she’s big-boned”; “Well, you’ll be a heart-breaker”) as if we weren’t standing there in front of them, hearing all this.

We’ve seen our biggest female role-models and icons shamed in the press, over and over: computers hacked and nude pictures released; sex-tapes released. So we know even success, and money, will not protect us from the humiliation of simply being a woman.

We know we must have our babies when we’re young — the eggs are running out! — but we must also work for less money, as discussed above. So that makes us tired.

This is why, maybe, women can become suddenly furious — why online discussions about feminism suddenly ignite into rage. Tired, scared people are apt to lash out. Anger is just fear, brought to the boil.

8. Wanking

We masturbate as much as you do.

One of the few times I have been personally offended was when Martin Amis commented on a column I wrote about female masturbation. “Christ,” Amis said, “that’s sort of lad’s mag talk — sort of more male than male.”

Obviously, I am noble enough to recognise that Amis is from an older generation — one whose women, by and large, did not feel comfortable discussing their sexuality in any great detail. But it does seem amazing that a clever, well-travelled man, whose job it is to examine the human condition, and who had a pretty steamy relationship with Germaine Greer at one point, has never realised that women can be just as driven by their desire as men.

I’m gonna be honest with you — for the first five years of my adult life, most of my decisions were made by the contents of my pants.

My vagina was — by way of Audrey II in Little Shop Of Horrors — constantly shouting “Feed me!”, and breaking into musical numbers when I was trying to listen to my brain instead. If I had not discovered masturbation, I would have spent the majority of my time sitting on shed roofs, like a cat on heat, yowling at the moon.

If a young woman isn’t to go mad, then masturbation is a needful hobby, as vital as going on long country walks, to get a bit of air in your lungs, and pursuing the revolution. And what a hobby it is! It doesn’t cost anything, it doesn’t make you fat, you can knock it off in five minutes flat if you think about Han Solo, or some monkeys “doing it” on an Attenborough documentary, and it means you can face the world with a kind of stoned, post-coital cheerfulness that would otherwise require Valium, or constant spa-breaks.

There’s a reason why God designed our bodies so that, when we lie down in bed, our hands naturally come to rest on our genitals. It’s the Lord’s way of saying, “Go on, have a fiddle. Find out how you work. And then, when you go out into the world, you won’t be waiting for some bloke to come along and have sex on you. You’ll be in the sex, too. It’ll be like this… joint endeavour? A thing you can do together? That was kind of how I planned it all along, TBH.

So, my Eleventh Commandment is ‘Thou Shalt Buff Your Fnuh.’ That’s official. Signed, God.”

9. Clothes

You know when we stand in front of a full wardrobe and say, “I don’t have anything to wear!”? Obviously we have things to wear. You can see all the shit from where you are standing, fully dressed, ready to leave the house. What we mean is, “I don’t have anything to wear for who I need to be today.” What women wear is incredibly important and not just because we live in a society with a $1.5 trillion fashion-industry, and spend most of our spare time looking at cut-price Marc Jacobs handbags on theoutnet.com.

As we are the half of the world that still doesn’t get to say as much as men (see stats earlier), how we look works by way of our opening paragraph in any social setting. Think of all the different kinds of looks women can have, depending on their clothes, hair and make-up: “Slutty”. “Ball-busting”. “Mumsy”. “Manic Pixie Dream Girl”. “Gym-bunny”. “Mutton”. “Nerdy”. “Unfuckable”.

Now think of all the ways men can dress. It’s basically “some trousers”. Ninety per cent of what men wear is “some trousers”. You’re just getting up in the morning, putting on your trousers and getting on with stuff.

And we fret about all this — appearance, clothes — because it matters. If we’re still getting talked-over at meetings, is it because we’re not dressing powerfully enough? If we’re getting sexually harassed, is it because we’re wearing the wrong skirt? In 2008, a rape case was overturned because the judge decided the alleged victim must have consented to sex, because her jeans were “too tight” for the accused to remove on his own. This is what we’re thinking about, when we stand in front of the wardrobe. Will this outfit define the rest of today? Will it, if I am very unlucky, affect my life? Is this going to be the subject of a court-case? Could I run for my life in these shoes? Do I have anything for who I need to be today?​

10. Male feminists

We’re embarrassed when other women say, “Men can’t be feminists!” We don’t want to get into an argument, but we just can’t see the logic in it. Feminism can only work if men are feminists, too — because the only indice by which feminism will succeed is based on how many people believe in it, support it, and want it to happen. By definition, it has to be a populist movement. There’s no point in only 27 per cent of people believing in equality because the maths, very obviously, show that you won’t be equal if 73 per cent of people think you’re not. You can’t go and… hide the feminism in a special secret place, and only let certain people have access to it. Besides, as discussed above, men need feminism almost as badly as women do. So, lady-balls to “men can’t be feminists”. We disbelieve that. In our vaginas.

11. Carbs

Our ultimate aim, when it comes to men, is to find an amusing mate we can have sex with, then sit on the sofa with, watching re-runs of Seinfeld and eating a baked potato. Discount all that Christian Grey/abs of steel/”bad boy” shit. Our priorities are: 1) Kindness; 2) Jokes; 3) High tolerance of carbs.

12. Trainers

It actually was us that threw those horrible old trainers of yours away. That story about how a time-portal opened up, and they were stolen away by your own teenaged self? That was a lie.

Caitlin Moran’s fee for this piece has been donated to Refuge, refuge.org.uk

NASA posts a lot of cool images

NASA owes a great debt to women, and it’s great to see the agency highlighting their contributions

In short, NASA’s photos are awe-inspiring and completely breathtaking.

But the photo NASA posted for International Women’s Day may be one of the space agency’s most inspiring:

Image from NASA.

This 2010 photo was the first time four women were in space at the same time.

So who are the badass women in NASA’s International Women’s Day photo?

1. Stephanie Wilson, an engineer and the second African-American woman in space.

Stephanie Wilson in a training module. Image from NASA.

2. Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger, a former high school astronomy and earth sciences teacher, who served as a mission specialist on that particular flight.

Working in microgravity requires a little ingenuity when it comes to moving stuff around. Image from NASA/Wikimedia Commons.

3. Naoko Yamazaki, an engineer and researcher who was part of the Japanese Aerospace eXploration Agency and the second Japanese woman in space.

Naoko Yamazaki eats a snack in microgravity. Image from NASA.

4. And Tracy Caldwell Dyson, a chemist, who served as flight engineer and performed three successful spacewalks on that mission.

Tracy Caldwell Dyson in the ISS’ cupola, looking through the — hands-down — best windows in the solar system. Image from NASA/WIkimedia Commons.

Since the photo was taken in 2010, Yamazaki and Metcalf-Lindenburger have retired from spaceflight and moved on to different things, but Wilson and Dyson are still active in the astronaut program.

Though the first astronauts were mostly male, there’s a long list of awesome ladies without whose hard work humans would have never left the planet.

Women like Katherine Johnson, an African-American woman who calculated trajectories for the missions that put the first Americans in space and for the moon landing. She was so good that when NASA first started using computers, they called her in to verify the numbers.

Image from NASA.

Lately, Johnson’s been getting the credit she deserves. President Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015. A movie about her life and the other women who worked alongside her, starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monáe, is slated to hit theaters in 2017.

Since Johnson began working at NASA, 58 different women have flown into space — and 49 women have flown in missions with NASA — in a variety of roles from engineers and specialists to managers and educators to commanders and crew.

Today, there are only three people in space, none of whom are women, but thanks to NASA’s 2013 astronaut class, more are on the way.

The 2013 astronaut candidate class is evenly split, with four men and four women — including Christina Hammock Koch, Nicole Aunapu Mann, Anne McClain, Jessica Meir.

This is the class of astronauts who might be part of our first mission to Mars!

They’re probably already preparing their “one small step” speeches and I, for one, can’t wait to hear them.

At a time when it’s so crucial that we show kids that women have an equal place in STEM fields, on International Women’s Day (and every day) it’s great to share these women’s stories and make sure their contributions are not forgotten.

In Gaza, Bicycles Are a Battleground for Women Who Dare to Ride

SALAHUDDIN ROAD, Gaza Strip — The four women pedaling bicycles with jammed gears and wobbly chains up Salahuddin Road, Gaza’s bumpy main highway, on a recent morning caused quite a stir.

The driver of a three-wheeled tuk-tuk slowed down and a teenager on a horse-drawn cart sped up to match the women’s pace.

A jeep filled with Hamas gunmen beeped and cheered as it passed, and a pack of men on motorbikes left a wake of catcalls.

The sight of women on two wheels was so unusual that Alaa, 11, who was grazing sheep on the grassy median, assumed they were foreigners and shouted out his limited English vocabulary: “Hello! One, two, three!”

Ms. Suleiman, center, and other women with their bikes in Gaza on Friday. Credit Wissam Nassar for The New York Times

The women ignored the hubbub as they pedaled from Jabalia, a crammed cinder-block town in Gaza’s north, to the Hamas checkpoint before the heavily restricted border crossing into Israel. They dumped their bikes in a nearby olive grove and sat down for a picnic of cheese sandwiches.

 

 ‘Men still run the world – and it’s not going that well’

Where are all the women leaders? According to the latest data from UN Women, only 22% of all national parliamentarians are female. (That’s a huge number in modern States)

Only 11 women serve as head of state, and 10 serve as head of government. (Only Merkel has power in her position)

To all the people who still think that “women have it all”!

Noor Al-Hajri shared this link

Away from the political world, the numbers are just as bad – or even worse.

Although women account for almost half of the college-educated workforce in the US, they hold only 19% of board seats, and are only 4.6% of CEOs.”

(I posit that the educated married women have far more power to lead their family and husband than any political position)

In the US, women make up almost half of the college-educated workforce, but hold only 19% of board seats.

Away from the political world, the numbers are just as bad – or even worse. Although women account for almost half of the college-educated workforce in the US, they hold only 19% of board seats, and are only 4.6% of CEOs.

Sheryl Sandberg – Facebook’s COO and a rare example of a woman leader in the male-dominated world of technology – thinks it’s time that changed. “Men still run the world – and I’m not sure it’s going that well,” she told participants at a session on the future of work in Davos. And until we rectify that, everyone will suffer: “It means we’re not using the full talent of the population.”

Women like to go to the restroom together

Women like to go to the restroom together, when they sit in some public places, at a restaurant, or at a seminar, even if it comes to intimate or family gatherings.

They wait each other in front of the bathrooms door, keeping each other purse, jacket, umbrella, in contemplation.

“Do you need to go to the toilet?”

“No, but I’ll come with you.”

Sometimes, while pissing, they talk about important issues: about love, about the events in the world or about brownie recipes.

Some women, if they do not have with whom to go to the bathroom, suffer until they get home.

And it’s not insecurity or a puzzle to be solved, it is a mutual concern, it is the mutual protection.

It is keeping the privileges that would be denied.
– Naida Mujkic

Painting by Arabella Proffer

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berlin-artparasites's photo.

 

Lebanon’s patchwork of personal status laws: Failing the women citizens. Unhappy ever after?

All couples hope their marriages will work out and they will live happily ever after.

The truth is that many relationships end in divorce and Lebanese couples are no exception.

According to a 2012 study by the Lebanese Central Administration of Statistics, there were almost 6,000 divorces in 2010. The issue for these couples and for society at large is how to ensure a fair separation that guarantees the rights of each spouse and protects their children.

Nadim Houry , deputy MENA director at Human Rights Watch, posted this March 13, 2015

(Un)happily ever after

Lebanon’s patchwork of personal status laws is failing women

On that front, Lebanon is failing miserably to ensure fair treatment of women.

It is widely known that Lebanon does not have a civil code regulating personal status matters.

Instead, there are 15 separate personal status laws for the different recognized religious communities, which are administered by separate religious courts.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) recently reviewed 447 legal judgments issued by these religious courts to examine how they handle divorce, child custody and financial issues emanating from separations or divorce.

The cases, dating from 2009–2012, were selected at random.

Lebanon’s religion-based laws discriminate against women across the religious spectrum

The findings were troubling. Lebanon’s religion-based laws discriminate against women across the religious spectrum. Women had lesser rights than men to ask for divorce.

Under Lebanon’s Shia, Sunni and Druze laws, men can demand a divorce at any time — unilaterally, and without cause — while a woman’s ability to access divorce is limited, and often at great cost and after lengthy court proceedings.

In principle, Islamic laws allow women to have an explicit clause inserted into the marriage contract stating that the wife can also have an equal right to unilateral divorce, but this right is rarely exercised due to social customs.

Only 3 of the 150 divorce judgments before Islamic courts that HRW reviewed included such clauses.

While divorce is difficult for both men and women under Christian laws, Christian men find it easier to circumvent these restrictions, including by converting to Islam and remarrying without divorcing.

As a practical matter, many women who spoke to HRW said these restrictions meant that they were forced to stay in abusive marriages — at great risk to themselves and their children, and that in some cases they had to give up their financial or custody rights in exchange for a divorce.

Some women even had to pay their husbands to seek the divorce.

Women also face discrimination in relation to distribution of marital property after a marriage ends.

Lebanese law does not recognize noneconomic contributions to a marriage or the concept of marital property, so after a separation property reverts to the spouse in whose name it is registered — typically the husband — regardless of who has contributed to it or what role a wife may have played in supporting her husband throughout their marriage.

In addition, even though the Druze and Christian confessions require the spouse responsible for the termination of the marriage to compensate the other, in practice these amounts are usually not enough to allow women to support themselves.

In Lebanon’s Islamic courts, after a divorce, a woman is left with only the deferred mahr (dowry) stipulated in the marriage contract, but this is often just a symbolic figure such as one lira or one gold coin.

Discrimination also extends to one of the most difficult aspects of any separation: child custody.

The HRW review of court cases found that in many cases, judges removed children from their mothers, but not their fathers, on grounds of fitness due to ‘questionable’ social behaviors because of the mother’s supposed religious affiliation, or because she remarried instead of making these decisions based on the best interest of the child.

The fear of losing their children was so great that some women HRW interviewed stayed in abusive marriages, gave up their monetary rights, or did not remarry so they could keep custody.

“I forced myself to bear beyond what a human being can take, all the injustices and violence,” said a Maronite woman who endured years of physical abuse but only sought a divorce after her children became adults because she feared losing them.

The current system is not only unfair. It is broken.

Some couples are converting to different confessions to be able to get married while others are converting to get a divorce. And many couples are simply voting with their feet, getting on a plane to get a civil marriage abroad.

Ending a marriage or determining who a child should live with after a divorce are difficult enough decisions. The least Lebanon can do is ensure that the laws are fair.

It is time for the country to adopt an optional civil code that would ensure equal rights for all Lebanese who wish to marry under it. But it is also time to get the Lebanese state to exercise oversight over religious courts. Not all marriages last, but at least we should have laws that help to give them a happy ending.


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