Lebanon protests: Lebanese women push for new rights


Women in Lebanon are saying that the Prime Minister may be gone, but they are not going anywhere anytime soon. They are hoping to take advantage of the protest to demand reforms of a legal system that many feel enables a culture of discrimination against women in Lebanon.

During the protests that led to the resignation of Saad Hariri, women were among those chanting, blocking roads and debating the future of the country’s politics.

In the most visible instance, a woman was caught on video kicking the armed bodyguard of the education minister, Akram Chehayeb, footage which went viral and became a symbol of defiance.

On Wednesday night women took to the streets of Beirut chanting: “Oh patriarchal powers, women’s rights are not a footnote”.

“Lebanese women are not afraid to take their place in the streets,” said Rand Hammoud, a human rights activist in Beirut. “We weren’t scared when they threw teargas at us, and we won’t be scared when they challenge our right to govern Lebanon’s future. The feminist bloc has always had an important role in Lebanon’s civil society.”

Away from the spotlight, women are taking up traditional roles for revolutionary ends. Fayrousa Nasr, 54, from Chouf, about an hour from the capital, used her small kitchen to cook for hundreds of hungry protesters.

With her friends and her husband lending a hand, Nasr spent a whole night last week cooking 200 portions of mujaddara, a traditional Lebanese lentil-based dish. “I have this spirit to help others. I never feel tired because of the joy that it brings me to help. I do this for Lebanon,” she said.

With the help of her sister, she also bought tents for protesters occupying the streets in the October chill. “Tomorrow I will bring soup to the protesters, it can warm them up and give them vitamins,” she said.

Perhaps predictably, there has been a backlash against women participating in political discourse. Some media coverage has sought to trivialise women’s efforts by branding female protesters “pretty faces” in the crowds. Hariri supporters have launched campaigns to stop female activists, journalists and protesters from reporting violence carried out by the authorities throughout Lebanon.

All the laws that deal with marriage, divorce and custody always favour men,” said Hammoud.“The resignation of the prime minister is not the end. It’s only the beginning to revolutionising the entire unjust system in Lebanon.” (Source: The Guardian)