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ECPR Standing Group on the European Union 10th Biennial Conference LUISS, Rome

'May God Help her does not help her, we have to do Something'. Negotiating the Protection of Women's Human Rights in Lebanon between Civil Law and Religious Family Law

Human Rights
Political Activism
Anne Hege Grung
Universitetet i Oslo
Anne Hege Grung
Universitetet i Oslo

This paper will analyze the work of two Lebanese NGO's against VAW (Violence against women). The two organizations KAFA and ABAAD has significantly different profiles regarding engagement with the religious leaders, the religious communities and the religious courts which in Lebanon is providing and ruling the legislation connected to family law/private law. Both organizations provide network and shelter for abused women, both lobby among Lebanese politicians in order to improve the legal protection of women's human rights including the right to be protected from partner violence, and both set up educational programs for communities and group to raise the consciousness about VAW in order to reduce the problem. KAFA's position, however, is that they don't want to work with representatives or leaders from the religious communities in Lebanon. The reason they give is that these communities and leaders are part of the problem, and their power should not be further confirmed by becoming a partner for KAFA. ABAADs approach is that in order to facilitate positive change for women not only in the civil law but also in the family law ruling allocated to the religious courts, it is necessary to engage with religious leaders and religious communities. In the paper, I will discuss these two strategies with empirical material from the Lebanese context where I have interviewed religious leaders from the Sunni, the Shi'a and various Christian communities as well as leaders and workers in the two NGO's KAFA and ABAAD. The overall question is: What is at stake in practical negotiations between Lebanese civil law and the various religious family laws, and what may be the consequence engaging/not engaging with representatives from the religious communities in such negotiations?
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