Women’s voices from Lebanon: Soraya News

Women’s voices from Lebanon: Soraya

Women’s voices from Lebanon: Soraya

Each country has its own cultures and traditions. To an external eye, these traditions can look exotic and appealing and for some, they can be perceived as negative or incomprehensible. However, whatever one’s view on them, some traditions can make life tough on women.

Soraya[1] is a 54-year old Lebanese woman who comes from a conservative and traditional small village in South Lebanon. At 17, she married a man of similar education and, as a married woman her first obligation was to give birth to a baby boy.

Unfortunately for her, she only gave birth to girls. She was under a lot of pressure from her husband and his family to have the most-desired baby. But each time she got pregnant, the family heir never came. Soraya gave birth to eight girls. Over time, her husband, dissatisfied, became violent with her and their daughters. After the eighth girl, he decided to marry a second woman. He had to father a male child after all!

In a strange twist of faith, it was after her husband took a second wife that Soraya finally gave birth to a baby boy.

Soraya had to go through hell to have this child: pressure, violence, and – as local tradition expects women to deliver babies at home – she gave birth nine times, alone, with only the support and company of her neighbours. No doctor, no midwife, no medical follow-up. Fortunately for Soraya, she never had any complications and each delivery went well.

With nine kids to take care of, the family had to continuously struggle to make a living, even more so when the father was sent to prison. Soraya and her daughters had to stick together to run the house and pay for school fees. For some time, she considered marrying off her daughters to lessen her burden. But she realized she didn’t want her daughters to live the same life as she did and so, she refused to put them under the same traditional pressures she had to live through.

“Something I learned is that we should stop bringing children to this world like this. It is a responsibility and it is no longer accepted that we still have this lack of awareness. We are responsible of our choices regardless where we come from”.

Amel Association and Médecins du Monde both work to promote safe deliveries and access to family planning to all women in Lebanon. Unfortunately, many inequalities still exist. By collecting and sharing stories of women who couldn’t access proper health care during pregnancy and delivery, and who don’t have knowledge or access to family planning, Amel Association International and Médecins du Monde point out such inequalities and aim to raise awareness on these issues.

[1] The name was changed to preserve the privacy of the interviewee.