A mother forbidden by divorce law to see her children for two years is beyond painful, but to be forbidden to bid her dying child the last farewell, or attend her own kid’s funeral, or even touch her kid’s grave is an absolute inhuman horror no law and no judge should even accept to enforce.
And yet, it just happened in Lebanon.
Any of these horrible situations would be a cruelty to impose on any parent, and this Lebanese mother has been experiencing all of the above simultaneously.
You might ask if that judicial horror is possible in Lebanon, and the answer is unfortunate but true.
Yes, in Lebanon a father can do this through court because the divorce laws in this country are as gender discriminative towards mothers as cruelty can be.
A few days back, a video circulated online of a mourning mother weeping and shouting across the fence from her daughter’s grave, breathlessly asking her daughter to tell God to join them together.
She said that she saw her daughter in a dream telling her that she misses her, so she went to see her at her grave yet she wasn’t allowed to come close to touch it.
Lina Jaber had lost both her kids, Maya and Mohammed, to divorce custody about three years ago. Two months ago, she lost all hope to ever see her daughter Maya again when death took her little one.
Her ex-husband, Ali Ismail, who reportedly has close relations to a Lebanese MP, went and buried his daughter Maya in an enclosed garden so her mother can’t reach her even at her grave.
Lina lost her daughter and couldn’t even come close to where she was buried for 62 days until she managed to sneak in close enough; if enough is even fair to say.
The video is extremely hard to watch; the mother addresses her daughter as ‘tyrannized’ and describes her as a ‘martyr’.
Noting that the truth of 14-year-old Maya’s death is still unknown. All that was confirmed is that Maya was hit by a bullet when under her father’s custody.
Why and how? It is still a mystery, though the father claims that Maya was playing with his gun when she accidentally shot herself.
Ever since the incident, Lina has been living with her sister who has been taken care of the broken mother. It was Lina’s sister who took the video at the grave.
In the video, you can hear the devastated mother shouting: “I came for you, my little girl… You tyrannized little girl… I miss you so much, mama… I wish it was me… I wish the bullet went through my heart… God is against the oppressor…”
Then she asks Maya if she can tell God to join the two of them in heaven since the oppressors and criminals on earth separated them.
Lina and her kids are victims of a religious court system that rules according to ancient laws, like all other religious sectarian courts in Lebanon that govern over family matters and divorces in their communities.
Lina belongs to the Jaafari (Shiite) community which court recognizes the right of the mother to custody of her son only until the age of two and the daughter until the age of 7.
Such decisions are made without consideration of the child’s interest, let alone the mother’s biological and natural rights to nurture and raise her kid.
In divorce cases, children are removed from their mother and delivered to the father. If the father is deceased, the mother has still no legal rights to her children who get then placed with their uncle or grandfather; always a male authority.
Lebanese women have been objecting and protesting the rules of the Jaafari court for years now with slogans like “My Custody Against The Jaafari Court” and “My Custody Is My Right.”
The religious court grants the father rights of full custody and of deciding whether or not the mother sees her kids.
In these protests of the mothers who were deprived of their children also participate women who were deprived of seeing their mothers when growing up, and also women’s rights activists.
The story of Lina and Maya has gone viral with the video, inciting outrage and the renewal of these protests and demands. Lebanese women and activists are calling for an uprise this Saturday, 29 February, in front of the Shiite Council.
Lina Jaber is one of the too many Lebanese women who are victims of the Jaafari courts’ rules and/or the father’s male status that grants him might and influence. But that cruel stance also exists with other sect courts in Lebanon, not only the Jaafari.
Last year, in February 2019, a Maronite mother by the name of Dolly Khabbaz went on a hunger strike for several days at the gate of the Patriarch headquarters in Bkerki because the court deprived her of her children.
The Maronite judge ruled her insane based on a doctor’s report, which the mother never saw, and gave the husband full custody.
It wasn’t the first case either at the Maronite court with an unfounded psychological report conducted on mothers in their absence.
This video of Lina Jaber is all the proof people need to realize what Lebanese mothers endure from the cruelty of these barbaric gender-bias laws that need to change the soonest.
These custody laws do not even concur with the Lebanese culture where most if not all the daily care of the kids is the mother’s traditional responsibility and not the father’s. Snatching the kids away from their mothers is an affront to even our traditions.
In any case, no mother should ever be deprived of her children. That goes against all the laws of nature and all human values.
Warning: some people might find the video’s content disturbing.