Source: Arab Millennial
by Shatha Sbeta
If we were to sit back, put aside everything we had learnt, all the ideas that were passed down to us from one generation to another, what would we make of the meaning of marriage?
Under Gaddafi, the legislature placed men and women as equals before the law except in one area: family law. According to Libyan family law, a man may marry a non-Muslim woman without requiring her to convert. However, a woman intending to marry a non-Muslim man is not permitted to unless he converts to Islam. Some argue that this is because children take their family name and identity from the father, and this creates a further conversion about patriarchy. However, the focus of this article is on women who are married or intend to marry non-Libyans who are also Muslims.
While these women are allowed by the state to marry Muslim non-Libyan men, they are not allowed to pass along their citizenship – not to their husbands or children. This is still the case under al-Sarraj, who has not prioritized this issue at all. Disallowing Libyan women from giving their citizenship to their husbands and children does not only hinder their ability to live within society as equal members, but also means that their rights are legally jeopardized. For example, Libyan citizens are entitled to free public education (elementary, secondary and higher) as well as free health care. Yet, children of Libyan mothers and non-Libyan fathers are not entitled to such rights.