Á mon Beyrouth…
Last summer, the Lebanese parliament gathered on the 4th of August 2011 to vote to cancel Article 562 of the Penal Code that allows reduced sentences for “honor” crimes, which means very light sentences for men who have murdered a female member of their family who are believed to have dishonored them. They refer to it as “crime of passion”.
While some MPs argued against the annulment, most argued and voted for removing the article. The case for annulment won and the article is now officially removed from the Penal Code.
It should be noted, however, the votes that were submitted, were male votes.
Yes. We have four women who are members of the parliament, and not ONE of them were present during the voting process. Regardless of their politics, it is inexcusable not to take part in such an essential matter as this.
Strida Geagea, wife of Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, is active with the LF’s Department of Women’s Affairs and has worked with KAFA to push for women rights. She has been vocal about removing this article, and has exerted more effort than the other three. Yet, while she attended the session, she left just before the voting, due to an engagement in Bcharré. Why had she avoided voting about a matter she felt so strongly about, we don’t know.
Bahia Al Hariri, sister of slain former Prime Minister Rafic al Hariri (RIP) and Nayla Tueni, daughter of slain journalist Gibran Tueni (RIP) were not even present during the session. In the past, both have publicly endorsed initiatives towards working for drafting laws in favor of women rights. Yet that’s all it remained, just talk. Neither commented or gave any reason as to why they were not present.
What has irked many women is that Nayla Tueni should have really known better than to continually be absent for such matters. A young journalist, an intellectual background, a powerful family behind her… At first, many were excited that there would be fresh blood to represent the youth and their frustrations. They were quickly disappointed. She has, till now, not even attended meetings proposed to her by the women rights’ organizations in Lebanon.
The last of the four is Gilberte Zouein, the female MP who came by being part of the Free Patriotic Movement’s bloc for “Change and Reform”, was conveniently on vacation at the time that the voting took place. She has spoken publicly in her support of women rights, but has yet to show any real work done on the issue. The latest news is that she refuses to recognize marital rape or include it in any draft concerning domestic violence or violence against women.
Perhaps these ladies, who belong to the bourgeoisie, or the cream of the cream of society in this country, have forgotten or not have bothered to be connected to reality as to the living conditions of women and their children, or the reality of what future generations will face by being haunted by stone-age laws affecting them in the 21st century.
What on earth are they there for, if not to represent us and our rights?!? I don’t care for their politics; neither do I care for the fact that they wouldn’t have even been MPs were it not for the men in their family who preceded them. What I do care is that when you have an opportunity to represent the women of your country (who ironically outnumber the men by a ratio of 7:1) you might as well make damn use of it. Politicians making a lot of promises they never keep is a usual, expected occurrence in the political game. It is easy to change your political opinions at your convenience, but it is inexcusable to make compromises on the basic rights of the people you represent, especially when these are the same rights you are denied yourself, considering your status as a woman, regardless of how much money you make or which family you belong to, your status as a woman is still not equal to a man in the eyes of the law. All the shopping in the world, all the luxury you can afford, all the events you are invited to, will not change that.
Let us see if any of our MPs will care to join us in our protest against marital rape on the 14th. Except for Gilberte Zouein, who made herself clear on the matter. You do not realize it yet, but history will not show you mercy, if you happen to be remembered.