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Alia – Lebanon

A Lebanese woman married to a Palestinian man is unable to pass her citizenship to her children or to her husband.  She suffers in the children’s absence, as two of them were forced to move abroad for work due to discriminatory attitudes and being denied access to jobs in Lebanon.

“I am married to a Palestinian who lives and works in Lebanon. We have a son and two girls whom I raised and schooled in Lebanon. I suffer from the denial of my fundamental rights including nationality rights to grant citizenship to my children. 

I also endure severe pains culminating in psychological violence and oppression that has accompanied me for decades, due to the discrimination and persistent inequality faced by individuals from different political, financial, and other backgrounds, [which is perpetuated and exacerbated by the effects of the discriminatory nationality law]. 

When I say violence, I mean the violence that prevents Lebanese mothers from giving their property to their children – this decision was reached a few years ago and applied specifically to children with Palestinian fathers. I mean the prevailing psychological and verbal violence in the recent period against children who are known not to have Lebanese citizenship. For example, my son was prevented from joining the national sports team in school because he was a “foreigner”, even though he was a good athlete. 

There is also violence experienced in seeking jobs and different professions, where one is denied joining some trade unions and professional associations or even prevented from practicing certain professions such as medicine or law – this is despite the parents paying considerable sums to educate their children. For instance, though my eldest daughter graduated from a prestigious private university in nutrition science, she still struggled to secure a career worthy of her ambition and specialization in this country that has robbed us of everything. 

I do not deserve to experience these struggles as a woman who has been an educator for 22 years. I worked hard and contributed to building my country through my life-long career in education, yet the government met me with injustice, oppression, and violence. My two older children and I suffered from this, and now they had to migrate to other countries in search of a ‘homeland’ that appreciates their competencies and respects their humanity. My son is currently working in Europe and suffered long before traveling due to his inability to access Lebanese citizenship. My eldest daughter traveled to the Gulf for marriage after struggling with her career in Lebanon, and I now live with my youngest daughter. 

This resulted in being deprived of the opportunity to live close to my children when they are in the prime of their youth. They had to leave in search of their dignity.  

For some people, emigration is a choice, but for us, it is by force and necessary to save my soul from my constant torment as I used to suffer silently. I feel guilty for bringing my children into this world, as I could not grant them my nationality.”

Learn more about discrimination in nationality law in our report, The State We’re In: Ending Sexism In Nationality Laws – 2022 Edition – Update For A Disrupted World.