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Gender Dynamics during and after the Lebanese Civil War, 1975-1990. A Marxist Feminist Perspective

Studienarbeit 2016 13 Seiten

Frauenstudien / Gender-Forschung

Leseprobe

Contents

I. INTRODUCTION

II. The Socio-Economic Status of Families

III. Institutionalized Patriarchy in Disguise?

IV. Rape as a weapon

V. Conclusion

Abstract: In the following paper I wish to investigate the status of women and their socio-economic conditions during the second civil war. As it was common during that period of time, the war was transferred to the womb of women, and sectarian conflicts during that time and even later usually involved “mudding” the blood of future generations of one sect. Therefore, I wish to examine whether this was the case in Lebanon. In order to do so, I will divide my paper into five sections. The first section of the paper will discuss the socio-economic background of the working class families of different sects in Lebanon. The second section of the paper will investigate the other means that were used during the war to weaken the Other, i.e. the focus will be directed at unarmed forms of violence. The third part of the paper will discuss the effects of the war, and more specifically it will focus on how women perceived, experienced, and the extent to which they were affected by the war. The fourth section will attempt to draw a comparative analysis in which the situation of women in Syria, Lebanon and Palestine, have been affected similarly during different conflicts at different locations and periods. The last part of the paper will attempt to draw some conclusions about the eruption of the war and whether its consequences still cause distress to Lebanese women today.

Keyword: Lebanon, Civil War, Gender Dynamics, Marxist Feminism, Violence Against Women.

I. INTRODUCTION

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Civil war is remarkable in light of the fact that it displays a test to basic parallels of good and evil. An attacking adversary is anything but difficult to denounce however, when war breaks out between nationals of a country, it gets to be hard to distinguish heroes from villains. The Lebanese sectarian civil war was an instance of shared othering by Lebanon's numerous groups. Every side was without a moment's delay casualty and con artist. The vicinity of the Other was viewed as an interruption into the asserted national space, and was controlled by endeavoring to bind it to the marginal or oust it outside of the national body.[1] Women were at the heart of the contention. The war appeared to be organized by men, yet women both bore its brunt and partook in its execution. The two quotes presented above indicate the direction of this paper and what it shall focus on; women during conflicts, specifically during the Lebanese Civil War, which lasted from 1975 to1990. More specifically, they emphasize what exactly I will be striving to find out: The silences in historical statements.

Modern wars have transformed to do more damage than the traditional means; where wars before the 20th century were men standing in opposition to each other and shooting at one another under their different paradigms and political ideologies, modern day wars and constituted of leaders fighting the wars against entire populations and civilizations in exchange for socio-economic and political gains.

The Lebanese civil war erupted in April 1975, twenty-nine years after the withdrawal of outside troops from Lebanon in 1946.[2] The civil war was at long last settled in October 1989, under an agreement of national compromise, arranged by individuals from the Lebanese Parliament under Arab protection in the town of Tai'f, Saudi Arabia. This settlement, known as the Tai'f Accord, was approved and ratified that month by the Lebanese Parliament. Real battling did not totally end, in any case, until a year later, in October 1990.[3]

In the following paper I wish to investigate the status of women and their socio-economic conditions during the second civil war. As it was common during that period of time, the war was transferred to the womb of women, and sectarian conflicts during that time and even later usually involved “mudding” the blood of future generations of one sect. Therefore, I wish to examine whether this was the case in Lebanon. In order to do so, I will divide my paper into five sections. The first section of the paper will discuss the socio-economic background of the working class families of different sects in Lebanon. The second section of the paper will investigate the other means that were used during the war to weaken the Other, i.e. the focus will be directed at unarmed forms of violence. The third part of the paper will discuss the effects of the war, and more specifically it will focus on how women perceived, experienced, and the extent to which they were affected by the war. The fourth section will attempt to draw a comparative analysis in which the situation of women in Syria, Lebanon and Palestine, have been affected similarly during different conflicts at different locations and periods. The last part of the paper will attempt to draw some conclusions about the eruption of the war and whether its consequences still cause distress to Lebanese women today.

My thesis will revolve around how women perceived the civil war and how they handled the situation, i.e. I will look at migration, stories of women recited after the war, the quota of women seeking education (therewith also the rates of illiterate females during and after that period), and the income per-capita. My research question is: have women been subject to violence to the extent where they could not resume living a “normal” lifestyle during and after the civil war?

In order for my readers to grasp a better understanding of my research paper, I will start by providing a list of definitions. In this reading I will not use the word “empowerment” since it is a liberal discourse, which illustrates that one party has power and another party lacks power. Therefore I will use the word “power struggle” to stress on the didactical relationship between different parties. To clear any confusion, it the difference between sex and gender should be identified. Sex is the biological attribution that differ men from women. Gender on the other hand is a set of socially constructed characteristics that govern the interaction between sexes; men and women.[4]

There are multiple definitions of feminism. United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) in defines feminism as “The belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes”.[5] Another definition is “[Feminism] describes a culture in which women, because they are women, are treated differently than men, and that, in that difference of treatment, women are at a disadvantage; feminism assumes that such treatment is cultural and thus possible to change".[6] I prefer the first definition because it is straightforward and because it does not advocate or share the blame of women’s unequal relationship to men, as a culturally bound factor. The second definition assumes that some cultures treat women as equal forces to men while other cultures don’t, which is not the case.

Defining what I mean by Marxist feminism is also important for the comprehension of this paper. Marxist feminism is an emancipatory, critical framework that aims at understanding and explaining gender oppression in a systematic way.[7] While there are multiple feminisms (e.g. radical feminism and liberal feminism) I see that Marxist feminism is the one with the least amount of fallacies, in addition to it being the most critical. According to Martha Gimenez, Marxist feminism, also referred to as critical or material feminism, is “A theoretical position held by relatively few feminists, who sought to develop the potential of Marxist theory to understand the capitalist sources of the oppression of women”.[8] I have chosen a Marxist feminist framework of analysis because first, liberal and radical feminists ignored the class inequality and the economic realities of women’s lives Second, radical feminist analysis of patriarchy is not sufficiently historical, meaning that it ignores historical and material attributions that have led to the patriarchal attitude.

I have specifically chosen to use a Marxist feminist approach because it is “[an] emancipatory tradition of social theory built around the critical analysis of particular forms of oppression – class oppression and gender oppression respectively – rather than as well-bounded, integrated explanatory theories” (Wright, 1994).[9] In other words, feminist Marxist lenses do not approach women as a separate entity that is not affected by other forces like class relations, economic power relations, and stability, rather that it explores all factors that may contribute to the oppression of women.

Furthermore Marxist feminism “argues that society is fundamentally constructed of the relations people form as they do make things needed to survive humanly. Work is a social process of shaping and transforming the material social worlds, creating people as social beings as they create value”.[10] In other words, Marxist feminism recognizes the socially constructed gender roles that govern the relationship between men and women in the public sphere, as well as that those roles are ascribed values according to the capitalist definition of value; labor time. For these reasons my paper will approach the Lebanese Civil war through a Marxist feminist perspective.

II. The Socio-Economic Status of Families

The Lebanese economy prior to the civil war had been growing rapidly between the years 1946-1975.[11] The private sector of the economy, which heavily relied on the trade and services contributed for the most of the National Gross Domestic Product (NGDP) of Lebanon. The fact is that the Lebanese government adopted a laisses faire economic system which depended on the terms of non-intervention within the economy and an immense support to the private sector initiatives. As a continuation of this system, the government had permitted the private sector to enter into business relations with outside forces, hence the state law permits bilateral and multilateral business treaties to be established between the private sector and other non-Lebanese enterprises. This stands in contrast to the economic policies of Lebanon’s neighboring countries, whose economic laws do not permit trade relations between the private sector and foreign investors without the permission of the state.

Some scholars believe that this policy of non-intervention is what has led to the huge economic boom of the Lebanese state especially in the pre-war period, which is believed to have caused the economic and financial stability in the Lebanese state where sectarian conflicts were beside the point. According to The World Bank the average annual rate of growth from 1950-1974 was estimated to be around 7%.[12] The annual rate of inflation was estimated to be about 2-3% until 1971; after that it tended to increase, averaging about 8% in the three years prior to the outbreak of the civil war. Per capita income increased significantly, standing in 1974 at about $1,200, one standards were also relatively advanced; for the same year gross school enrollment for the first and second levels stood at 74%.

Yet despite the economic prosperity, the socio-economic disparities in Lebanon persisted to exit. Some could even say that the economic prosperity had blinded outsiders from concerning themselves with the sectarian conflict that was still ongoing in Lebanon. The sectarian issues were strongly and strikingly manifested in the uneven development among the various groups and regions of the country.[13] The fact is that the discrepancies between the socio-economic class and sectarian groups in Lebanon were unprecedented. El Khazen states that up until 1974 almost 54% of the entire population could have been considered to be poor, although the state as a whole was classified as a middle-income state. The fact is that the only equality that this system produced is that in each sect the ratio of rich and poor was equally divided and distributed. Yet this also gave the state a confessional theme.

Regardless of the striking economic growth in Lebanon and the rising income per capita, the Political tension was still highly emphasized, and the reasons fro this phenomenon were mainly domestic unrest among the three main fractions of the society (The Maronites, the Sunnis and the Shi’a). This system has been in place since independence in 1943, although it was modified under the Tai’f Accord.[14] While the constitution of the newly-independent state guaranteed equal rights to all citizens, Article 95 specified that, for a temporary but unspecified period, religious communities would be equitably represented in public employment and cabinet posts. The principle of equitable representation was not defined. In practice, the institutionalization of sectarianism and the codification of it in the Tai’f Accord were most evident in the governmental structure where quotas for representation were set and never amended, consequentially, especially with the constantly changing demographics of Lebanon, a misrepresentation of the reality occurred that further aggravated the situation even in the post-war period.

The cabinet, which was appointed according to the quotas set in the Accord, were neither representative of the actual number of sects present in the community, which has led to the exclusion of officially recognized communities, such as the Arminian community, furthering the uneven communal division and distribution of income. The predominantly Muslim and Maronite representation in the Cabinet is proof for the unequal representation of demographical realities. Similarly, parliamentary seats are distributed amongst the same two dominant communities in accordance with outdated demographical census, which on the whole favors the Christian community. This formula has led to Christians entitled to 55% of the total number of seats.[15]

III. Institutionalized Patriarchy in Disguise?

Women in Lebanon are often perceived as more free and better off than their female neighbors in Arab Countries, whether economically, socially or politically. When the status of Lebanese women is put in contrast with Saudi Arabian women who are not permitted to drive, women in Lebanon have no obvious legal restrictions.[16] While women in Kuwait have recently obtained their right to vote, women in Lebanon have preserved that right since 1952. According to Khales Al-Masri women in Lebanon have the constitutional right to own businesses, and since 1988 they have been allowed to enroll themselves into the Lebanese army.[17] Since 1974, married Lebanese women do not require the permission of their husbands in order to travel aboard or to acquire a passport. Moreover, the number of Lebanese women acquiring higher education is equivalent to the number of men.[18] In the database of the World Bank, women constituted 18.4% of the workforce in 1975.[19] All these things combined form this false image about the status of women in Lebanon, where the emancipation of women is being portrayed as a central mission executed by the government apparatus. However behind this façade of rosy-tainted imaginary conclusions lie a highly patriarchal legislative power, that is reflected in the social and political system, where women do not enjoy the equal status of men.

A UNICEF report on the conditions of women in Lebanon in 1995 concluded that: Women are more often than not marginalized at various levels including: “1) discrimination against women in existing laws; 2) in norms, habits, traditions and social culture; 3) political discrimination especially in the real participation in political leadership and decision making positions at all levels; 4) economic discrimination regarding attaining production resources, type of jobs, salaries and participation in the economic process; 5) statistical discrimination where there is a need for specific information on women.”[20] The problems that have been identified by UNICEF in 1995 convey to the readers the situation that dominated prior- and post-Civil war period. With the findings of UNICEF one can infer that political participation of women in Lebanon is rather set at a minimal amount.

Nonetheless, the Lebanese constitution itself does not foster an environment of discrimination against women regarding their political participation and visibility. Yet,

the first female to gain a parliamentary seat was Mirna Boustany in 1963, but she only gained that seat after the death of her father, whom she was elected to replace. This it itself sets forward the power dynamics within different sects within Lebanon. Boustany was only elected to office because it was believed that she would maintain the objectives of her sect, regardless of her gender. This emphasizes that the goals set forward by the sects will be maintained, and representatives are mere political puppets that occupy a ceremonial and symbolic position, motivated by the agenda of the sect. If it was not her it would have been someone else; the interest of the sect is above all. This is further emphasized if we take a look at the 2005. Before that time no woman had ever been present in the cabinet, until Leila Solh Hamadeh, Wafaa' Diqa Hamzeh and Nayla Moawad were appointed Minister of Industry, Minister of State and Minister of Social Affairs. The joyous occasion was rather short-lived seeing that in 2008 only one woman was appointed into the cabinet; Bahia Hariri as Minister of Education.[21]

Lebanon is supposedly a democratic state, where the constitution grants equal rights to all its citizens regardless of gender, religion or sectarian affiliation. According to Article 7 of the Lebanese constitution states: “All Lebanese shall be equal before the law. They shall equally enjoy civil and political rights and shall equally be bound by public obligations and duties without any distinction”. The elasticity of this law and its openness to interpretation is problematic, seeing that the article does not explicitly prohibit discrimination based on gender. This paradoxical situation in the Lebanese constitution makes the point of institutionalized discrimination seem more vital and credible.

Although article 7 states that all citizens are equal before the law, the personal status law in Lebanon, which should govern and regulate gender relationships in Lebanon is peculiar, seeing that it contradicts article 7. According to an article published by the Human Rights Watch “Lebanon’s religion-based personal status laws discriminate against women across the religious spectrum and don’t guarantee their basic rights (…) 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.”[22]

The late Laure Moghaizel, one of Lebanon's most prominent campaigners for women's and human rights, summarized the discrimination against women as follows: “In Lebanon, children only inherit their father's nationality. A mother can only pass her Lebanese nationality to her children in two cases: if the child is illegitimate and she recognizes him before the father, and if she is a foreigner and after the death of the husband, who is also a foreigner, she takes on Lebanese nationality”.[23] The fact is Lebanon’s constitution explicitly guarantees respect for the “personal status and religious interests” of the individual, whatever their religion. This constitutional protection has often been used as a justification to keep personal status laws under the exclusive realm of religious authorities, block attempts to adopt a civil code or ensure greater oversight over Lebanon’s religious courts and laws. The 1936 decree that established the basic personal status order and that remains operational recognized freedom of belief, granting each person the right to opt out of their religion’s personal status laws and marry under a civil code. But Lebanon has yet to adopt a civil code despite numerous campaigns since independence to do so.[24]

Institutionalizing and codifying patriarchy according to radical feminism preceded private property, where it is believed that the basic contradiction is between the sexes and not the economic classes, meaning that they consider all women to be a class. In contrast stands socialist feminism that accept that women are neglected by the legislative systems. They do not consider “patriarchy to be a universal or unchanging system because of their commitment to a historical, materialist method as well as of their own observation of variety in the sexual division of labor. Socialist feminists view the struggle between women and men as changing historically with changes in modes of production.”[25] The material base of the institution of marriage benefits both the capital and the husbands, seeing that patriarchy is men’s control over women’s labor power through executing the same amount of work for half the wages male receive, therewith benefiting the capital system and still maintains the power relation between men and women. This could be applied to Lebanon, where women are living in constant fear of “the other” (here the sect) therewith perpetuate male domination of the productive and industrial spheres.

[...]


[1] Shirley, Ardener, “Ground Rules and Social Maps for Women: An Introduction”, in Women and Space: Ground Rules and Social Maps, Oxford: Berg (1993): 1-30.

[2] Lebanon gained independence in 1943 but foreign troops did not withdraw until 1946. A minor civil conflict took place in 1958, lasting several months. A significant crisis occurred in 1958 triggered, among other things, by President Camille Cham‘oun’s move to weaken the position of his political opponents, and by fundamental disagreements between the government and its political allies, on the one hand, and opposition groups, on the other hand, over foreign policy issues and alliances.

[3] Samir Makdisi and Richard Sadaka, “The Lebanese Civil War 1975-1990”, Lecture and Working Paper Series, no. 3, Lebanon: The American University in Beirut, (2003): 9-52.

[4] Uma Kothari, 2002, “Feminist and Postcolonial Challenges to Development”, in Critical Perspectives in Development Theory and Practice, ed. Kothari, U. & Minogue, M, (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 2002): 35-51.

[5] UN Women, 2014, “Emma Watson: Gender equality is your issue too”, Herforshe.org. UN Women, 2014, www.herforshe.org, accessed 15th Arpil 2015.

[6] Jona Lweis, “What is Feminism?”, About.com, February 2015, www.womenshistory.about.com, accessed 15th April 2015.

[7] Nancy Holmstrom,”Women’s Work, the Family and Capitalism”, Science and Society, issue no. 45 (1981).

[8] Martha Gimenez, “Marxist Feminism/Materialist Feminism”, (USA: Virginia Tech University, 1998).

[9] Erik Wright, “Explanation and Emancipation in Marxism and Feminism” , in Interrogating Inequality: Essay on Class Analysis, Socialism, and Marxism, (London: Verso, 1994): 1-12.

[10] Cathrine A. McKinnon, “Feminism, Marxism, Method, and the State: An Agenda for Theory”, Signs, Vol. 7, No. 3, Feminist Theory, (Spring, 1982): 515-544.

[11] Samir Makdisi (2003).

[12] World Bank, “World Development Indicators”. World Bank Data 2016. Retrieved from: http://data.worldbank.org/country/lebanon

[13] Farida el Khazen. “The Uneven Communal Development of Lebanese Society”. in The Breakdown of the State in Lebanon 1967-1976. Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. (2000): 31-46.

[14] Sandra M. Saseen. “The Tai’f Accord and Lebanon’s struggle to regain Sovereignty”. American University International Law Review, Vol. 6, No. 1, (1990): 57-75.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Lina Khatib. “Women, Citizenship, and Political Agency in Lebanon”. British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, Vol. 35, No. 3, Gender and Diversity in the Middle East and North Africa (Dec., 2008): 437-451.

[17] Khaled Al-Masri. “Telling Stories of Pain:-Women Writing Gender, Sexuality and Violence in the Novel of the Lebanese Civil War”. A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy-(Near Eastern Studies)-in the University of Michigan-, (2010): 63-104.

[18] Michelle Hartman. “Interrupting Otherness:-New Directions in Literary Studies by French Language Arab Writers”. Journal of the Society for Contemporary Thought and the Islamicate World, (2015): 2-3.

[19] World Bank. op. cit.

[20] UNICEF, “The Situation of Children and Women in Lebanon”. (Beirut: UNICEF and the Government of Lebanon, 1995).

[21] Suad Joseph. “Civic Myths, Citizenship, and Gender in Lebanon” in Suad Joseph (ed.), Gender and Citizenship in the Middle East. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, (2000): 110.

[22] Human Rights Watch. “Lebanon: Laws Discriminate Against Women: Pass Optional Civil Code; Reform Religious Laws, Courts” (2015). Retrieved from: https://www.hrw.org/news/2015/01/19/lebanon-laws-discriminate-against-women

[23] Laure Moghaizel, interview in Nelda La Teef, “Women of Lebanon: Interviews with Champions for Peace”. North Carolina: McFarland and Company, (1997): 209.

[24] Georgina Waylen, “Gender, Feminism and the State: An Overview”. In Vicky Randall and Georgina Waylen (eds .), Gender, Politics and the State. (London: Routledge, 1998): 13.

[25] Veronica Beechey. 1977. “Some notes on female wage labour in capitalist production”. Capital and Class, Vol. 3, (1977): 45-66.

Details

Seiten
13
Jahr
2016
ISBN (eBook)
9783668452855
ISBN (Buch)
9783668452862
Dateigröße
1.3 MB
Sprache
Englisch
Katalognummer
v366364
Institution / Hochschule
The American University in Cairo
Note
Schlagworte
gender dynamics lebanese civil marxist feminist perspective

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Titel: Gender Dynamics during and after the Lebanese Civil War, 1975-1990. A Marxist Feminist Perspective