Today, 25 November, coincides the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women that was designated by the United Nation (UN) in December 1999 as part of the UN efforts to curb violence against women and girls all over the world. On this occasion, the UN launches the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign which lasts until 10 December, coinciding the Human Rights Day. This campaign, which takes the orange color as a theme, aims at making the voices of women subject to violence heard all over the world in order to provide them protection and hold the perpetrators accountable.
This day comes while the human rights situation of the Palestinian women seriously deteriorates in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) due to the ongoing Israeli crimes against the Palestinian civilians participating in the Great March of Return and Breaking the Siege along the eastern and northern borders of the Gaza Strip since last March. The Israeli forces have used excessive force against the peaceful protests, including firing live bullets and teargas canisters. As a result, 175 civilians were killed, including one woman who is paramedic Rozan al-Najjar when she was on duty offering aid to those wounded. Moreover, 9423 other civilians, including 187 women, were wounded. Women have paid an exorbitant price during the Israeli suppression of these protests not because what they have directly subjected to but also because one of their sons or husbands were killed or wounded and the consequent suffering of women after losing the support and breadwinner.
This occasion also comes in light of the unjust and illegal closure ongoing for 12 years on the Gaza Strip that has affected all life aspects of civilians, has heavily burdened women, and increased their suffering. Women have always been victims of discrimination in times of peace in addition to being victims of marginalization, poverty and suffering in times of war.
Furthermore, the suffering of Palestinian women from community violence which has increased in light of the deteriorating social, economic, and living conditions of the Palestinian society, continued. In 2018, PCHR has documented many killings among women in the West Bank and Gaza Strip on different grounds and in different circumstances as 12 women have been killed since the beginning of this year, including 4 women killed on grounds of so-called “honor crimes”.
The Palestinian division has also contributed to aggravating the suffering of women as it is a huge obstacle when it comes to issuing laws more just and fair to women and for the protection of women who are victims of violence.
Though the Palestinian President has ratified without reservation to the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in addition to lately signing the Optional Protocol to the Convention, the Palestinian Authority has not taken any steps necessary for giving full effect to this Convention and has not abolished all forms of discrimination in laws and practices.
In light of the aggravation of Palestinian women’s suffering, PCHR:
- Stresses that the international community has to fulfill its obligations, the most important of which are offering protection to civilians and obliging Israel to respect human rights;
- Calls upon the international community to promptly act to pressurize Israel to respect human rights, be committed to the provisions of international humanitarian law and put an end to its continuous violations against civilians, especially the closure imposed on the Gaza Strip which deprives them, including women, of their rights to live in dignity;
- Calls upon the Palestinian Authority to take necessary action to stop domestic violence, prosecute those committing crimes against women and bring them to accountability; and
- Calls upon the Palestinian Authority to fulfill its obligations stipulated in CEDAW, ensure that the legislations and laws are consistent with the principle of justice and non-discrimination.