Lebanese women took to the streets of Beirut on Saturday to protest sexual harassment and intimidation, and demanded rights such as the transmission of nationality to Lebanese children married to foreigners.
“We want to send a message against sexual harassment. They say that the revolution is a woman, therefore, if there is a revolution, women should be part of it,” said Berna Dao, one of the protest attendees. “Women are violated, their right is usurped and they cannot transfer their nationality.”
Activists have struggled for years for Parliament to develop a law that allows Lebanese married to foreigners to pass their nationality to their husbands and children.
A few months ago, Raya al-Hassan became the first woman in the Arab world to assume the position of Minister of the Interior. The outgoing Cabinet has four ministers, the largest amount in the country in decades.
Lebanon is going through an overwhelming economic and financial crisis that has worsened since the protests began.
The march began outside the American University of Beirut, in the west of the capital, and ended in a downtown plaza that has witnessed daily protests for more than seven weeks.
The nationwide demonstrations in Lebanon began on October 17 against the proposal to apply taxes to calls made through the WhatsApp messaging service and have been transformed to condemn the country’s political elite, which has led the nation since the civil war from 1975 to 1990. The government resigned at the end of October, fulfilling a key demand of the protesters.
During the demonstration of women in Riad Solh Square, a man set himself on fire and the people near him extinguished the flames. His motive was not immediately clear and an ambulance arrived shortly to move him.
Yolonda Kerr is a general assignment reporter at The Grand Newsstand. She has covered sports, entertainment and many other beats in her journalism career, and has lived in San Francisco for more than 8 years. Yolonda has appeared periodically on national television shows and has been published in (among others) NPR, Politico, The Atlantic, Harper’s, Wired.com, Vice and Salon.com.