Palestinian clerics and lecturers actually endorse domestic violence and argue that it is permitted by religious law.
By Nan Jacques Zilberdik, Palestinian Media Watch
On the occasion of International Women’s Day, the official Palestinian Authority daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida published various statistics on violence against women in the PA.
The Palestinian Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counseling documented 76 murder cases of women in Jude and Samaria, Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip over a 3-year period. A researcher at the center, Nabil Dweikat, explained that “in the great majority of the cases of murder about which there is confirmed information – 22 cases – the murderer was from the murdered woman’s close surroundings, from her family,” a fact that might indicate these murders were so-called “honor killings.”
Dweikat further explained that these murders happened regardless of efforts having been made to protect Palestinian women, explaining, “These numbers were recorded despite the effort being made by many official and unofficial institutions in order to provide protection to women and young women whose lives are in danger.”
But it is not surprising that the efforts have not been entirely successful, considering the PA’s official stand on women’s rights. Recently, the PA’s Supreme Shari’ah Judge and Chairman of the Supreme Council for Shari’ah Justice Mahmoud Al-Habbash emphasized that the PA is not committed to the international Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) “at all” – even if it signed it – “except for what is consistent with Islamic law.” Al-Habbash claimed this view has been endorsed by both PA Chairman Abbas and the PA Parliament.
Domestic Violence and Worse
Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) has exposed numerous statements by Palestinian clerics and lecturers – including top PA official Al-Habbash – endorsing domestic violence and arguing that it is permitted by Islamic law and the Quran. These statements prove that Palestinian domestic violence and honor killings don’t happen in a vacuum.
On the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women in November, for example, PMW reported on two interviews with Palestinian experts who explained that Palestinian culture accepts marital rape and domestic violence, and that the laws don’t protect women.
“The concept of ‘marital rape’… For us, this concept is not present in our social consciousness. When I teach at Birzeit [University] about violence against women and I speak about marital rape, some of the students are amazed at the very concept itself. How could someone rape his wife?” asked a presenter on official PA TV.
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