Milestone Verdict: PCHR’s Women’s Rights Unit Wins Case Awarding Custody of Abused Girl to Her Brother
Date: 04 January 2022
Time: 13:00 GMT
The Women’s Rights Unit at the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) successfully obtained a verdict on a custody case from the Gaza Sharia First Instance Court, joining a minor to her brother’s custody. This verdict is the first of its kind in the history of sharia courts in the Gaza Strip.
For a year and a half, the Women’s Rights Unit followed the case of “T. Sh.” (15) after she sought refuge at the Al-Aman Shelter for Victims of Violence, a shelter run under the Ministry of Social Development. The girl was in her father’s custody pursuant to court ruling on 07 September 2016. The girl sought refuge at the al-Aman Shelter in May 2020 after she was exposed to different types of violence, including sexual harassment and physical and psychological violence, by her father while in his custody. The Women’s Rights Unit intervened to protect the girl by filing a case to grant her brother her custody and abrogate the previous verdict giving custody to the father.
PCHR’s women’s rights lawyer, Ghada al-Nazli, based her case on the Personal Status Law, Child Rights Act No. (7) of 2004, and the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child. Al-Nazli also emphasized the imperative to respect and promote the child’s best interest.
The court’s ruling canceled the paternal custody and granted custody to the brother. The court’s ruling stated that “As T.Sh. is over 15 years old, and the defendant, her father, is deemed unfit for custody; her brother Y. Sh., a responsible and fit adult, can assume custody. Accordingly, the Court grants custody to the brother and orders the father to hand over the plaintiff to her brother from the date of issuing this sentence. The Court has also ruled to abrogate the previous verdict granting custody to the defendant.
This ruling is a judicial precedent in a case of high significance, as custody cases are among the most important cases litigated in sharia courts for their consequential impact on children’s lives. It is a breakthrough milestone as it regards the best interest of the child and is consistent with Child Rights Act No. (7) of 2004, and the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child.