Ref:
116/2011

 

Tomorrow,
25 November 2011, marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence
against Women, which was adopted by the UN in December 1999 to eliminate
violence against women around the world and to urge governments and
governmental and international organizations to organize activities to raise
awareness on the magnitude of this issue.

 

The
significance of this day lies in addressing what has been achieved and what has
to be achieved in the field of elimination of violence against women.

 

In
recent years, Palestinian women have suffered severely due to the violence they
have been subjected to for years as a result of the exceptional conditions they
are forced to endure. They are victims of the crimes committed by the
Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) which created harsh and cruel living
conditions.  Furthermore, they are
subjected to local community’s physical and psychological violence practiced
against them as part of socio-cultural heritage.

 

The
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) documented the killing of three
women in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) in 2011, while 35 other women
were wounded.  On 1 January 2011, Jawaher
Abu Rahma, 35, was killed due to the inhalation of tear gas fired by IOF during
a demonstration organized by Palestinian and international activists against
the construction of the annexation wall in Bil’in village, west of
Ramallah.  On 08 April 2011, Najah Harb
Salem Qdaih, 41, and her daughter Nidal Ibrahim Hamdan Qdaih, 19, were killed,
while her other daughters, Nida’, 18, and Fida’, 15, sustained serious wounds,
in an Israeli raid on their house in ‘Abassan village, east of Khan Yunis.

 

This
deterioration of the human rights situation and living conditions in oPt
greatly affects the Palestinian women generally and in the Gaza Strip in
particular. Additionally, the ongoing Israeli-imposed closure prevents
thousands of women from enjoying their right to an adequate standard of living.  As a result, their social life has been
affected, due to which the local community’s violence against them has
increased.

 

Moreover,
Palestinian women suffer from violence practiced against them by the local
community in its many forms.  In 2011, PCHR documented the killing of three
women in the Gaza Strip and West Bank due to
security chaos and misuse of weapons.

The
year 2011 witnessed a clear improvement in the measures taken to put an end to
violence practiced by the local community, particularly crimes committed to
maintain "family honor".  On 15
May 2011, President Mahmoud Abbas issued a decision with power of law, which
would abolish the eased sentences issued against the crimes committed to
maintain "family honor".  Under
this decision, article 340 of Chapter I/Part VIII of the Jordanian Penal Code
No. 16 of 1960, applicable in the West Bank,
is abolished.  The decision also
stipulates the amendment of article 18 of the Palestinian Penal Code No. 74 of
1936, applicable in the Gaza Strip, as the phrase “that does not include crimes
committed against women to maintain ‘family honor’” was added at the end of the
article.

 

PCHR
welcomed the decision at the time and hoped that this decision would be a step
towards the elimination of these crimes, as those who commit these crimes enjoy
the immunity granted to them through the issuing of eased sentences against
them.  As a result, this phenomenon has
been prevalent in the Palestinian society and resulted in opening the door for
undermining the principle of the rule of law.

 

In
light of the ongoing suffering of the Palestinian women in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, PCHR emphasizes the need
for putting an end to this suffering.  PCHR:

 

1- Calls upon the international
community to urge Israel to respect human
rights and international humanitarian law and to put an end to the violation of
the Palestinians’ rights, including women’s right;

2- Calls upon the international
community to an urgent intervention to force Israel to lift the closure imposed
on the Gaza Strip and enable civilians, including women, to enjoy all of their
rights, which are denied due to the closure;

3- Calls upon the Palestinian
Authority to take the necessary actions to put an end to the internal violence
practiced against the Palestinian women;

4- Calls for joint efforts of
the government and civil society organizations to put an end to violence
against women in oPt; and

5- Hopes, in view of the
Palestinian reconciliation, that the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) will
resume its activities and will develop a unified Palestinian penal code that
conforms to the spirit and essence of the Palestinian Basic Law and to
international human rights standards in order to guarantee public rights and
freedoms.