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  • Woman opens first bank account in Lebanon

    Change led by the Institute of Progressive Women

    A Lebanese woman opened a bank account in the name of her underage children on Thursday, setting a precedent in a country where females often face legal discrimination.

    "I've been trying to open a bank account for my two sons for 10 years now, but I was continuously told that only my husband could sign the papers," Lebanese-American Barbara Batlouni told AFP.

    "It's unfair. They're my children too and I don't see why I cannot, as their mother, teach them to manage their finances," she said at the headquarters of Bank of Beirut and the Arab Countries (BBAC).

    Her move came after Lebanon's bank association altered its own rules on December 9, following a campaign to press for the change led by the Institute of Progressive Women and other groups.

    A smiling Batlouni signed the first papers at BBAC for an account that named as beneficiaries her two sons, 16-year-old Samer and 14-year-old Jad.

    "I'm glad that Lebanon is improving its laws," said Samer, who along with Jad will become the official holder of the account once he turns 18.

    The bank also gifted her a 1,000-dollar (790-euro) cheque as a token of their appreciation for her "fight against discrimination," BBAC general manager Ghassan Assaf said.

    While the boys' father is Lebanese, Batlouni, the Lebanon country director of the non-profit organisation Amideast, said she insisted on opening the account herself on principle.

    "Lebanese women excel in all fields, and yet they do not have their basic rights," she said.

    I've been trying to open a bank account for my two sons for 10 years now, but I was continuously told that only my husband could sign the papers

    Barbara Batlouni