Lebanese American University

LAU Advancement

Women’s rights in the Middle East and the Institute for Women’s Studies in the Arab World

Women in the Middle East can expect varying degrees of freedom and obligation depending on where they are. But even in some of the region’s more liberal countries many are still subject to harassment.

In a recent poll of women in the Middle East many admitted that they were sometimes afraid to go outside because of the amount of harassment they can expect to receive.

IWSAW LogoLebanon, while much better than many other Middle Eastern nations, is not immune to this phenomenon. A recent poll showed that 30 percent of women in Lebanon reported abuse in public.

Citizenship, which is a valuable status anywhere, is closely guarded by Lebanon. Lebanese women are unable to pass on their Lebanese citizenship to their children if they are married to husbands from abroad. That means that their children, many of whom have lived in Lebanon their entire lives, are unable to enjoy the rights of a citizen.

Additionally, a recent Amnesty International study revealed that women who are accused of a crime in Lebanon are poorly represented during their trials when compared to men in the same situation. Also, many women admit to being intimidated or even beaten by guards. Women who are convicted can also expect little inside of prison, since many jails are overcrowded and underfunded. Inmates can expect few supplies or help, never mind the chance for rehabilitation through training.

LAU’s Institute for Women’s Studies in the Arab World (IWSAW) is working to help alleviate these issues. IWSAW has worked for years to get basic necessities into Lebanon’s female prisons, from blankets and pillows to legal representation. They also continue to be a voice for women’s rights in Lebanon and throughout the Middle East.

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