Whether a Sunni woman could be forced to marry by her family [LBN30925.E]

The following information was provided by the Director of the Institute for the Study of Women in the Arab World (ISWAW) and a sociologist at the Institut des sciences sociales of the Lebanese American University who specializes on women issues in Lebanon and the Arab world (6 Jan. 1999).

Both sources stated that the notion of "arranged marriages" has changed dramatically in Lebanon. Today "arranged marriages" do not include the use of coercion. In Lebanon today, it is very rare that a Sunni woman would be forced to enter a marriage without her consent. Even the term "arranged marriage" does not exclude the participation and consent of both candidates. The "arranged" aspect of the marriage is only related to the respect of social customs as illustrated through mediation and negotiation conducted by the women of both prospective families, very often at the explicit request of the bride-to-be. The woman always has the choice of refusing any male candidate suggested to her. Refusing a male candidate does not put the life of the woman in jeopardy.

Forced marriage involving coercion is in decline and only happens in small and remote villages of Lebanon. Both sources indicated that the vast majority of Sunnis in Lebanon lives in urban areas such as Beirut, Tripoli and Saïda.

Both sources stated that, in general, Sunni women in Lebanon are not forced to wear the hijab and many do not wear it.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.


Director, Institute for the Study of Women in the Arab World (ISWAW), Beirut, Lebanon. 6 January 1999. Telephone interview. ISWAW, which celebrate its 25 years of existence in 1998, publishes a magazine entitled Al-Raïda and has produced several studies on Arab women.

Sociologist, Institut des sciences sociales, Lebanese American University, Beirut. 6 January 1999. Telephone interview.