Beirut. - Lebanon’s religion-based personal status laws discriminate against women across the religious spectrum and don’t guarantee their basic rights, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Lebanon has 15 separate personal status laws for its recognized religions but no civil code covering issues such as divorce, property rights, or care of children. These laws are administered by autonomous religious courts with little or no government oversight, and often issue rulings that violate women’s human rights.
The 114-page report, “Unequal and Unprotected: Women’s Rights Under Lebanon’s Religious Personal Status Laws,” found that, across all religions, personal status laws erect greater barriers for women than men who wish to terminate unhappy or abusive marriages, initiate divorce proceedings, ensure their rights concerning their children after divorce, or secure pecuniary rights from a former spouse. The laws also violate children’s rights, most significantly the need to consider their best interests in all judicial decisions concerning their welfare.