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(Ramallah, November 7, 2006) − The Palestinian Authority (PA) has failed to establish an effective framework to respond to violence against women and girls, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Despite the current political and economic crisis, there are steps that the PA can and should take to address these abuses as a priority issue within its security agenda.
The 101-page report, “A Question of Security: Violence Against Palestinian Women and Girls,” based on field research conducted in the West Bank and Gaza in November 2005 and early 2006, documents dozens of cases of violence ranging from spousal and child abuse to rape, incest and murders committed under the guise of family “honor.” There is increasing recognition of the problem, and some PA officials have indicated their support for a more vigorous government response, but the PA has taken little action to prevent these abuses. As a result, violence against women and girls is often unreported, and even when it is, it usually goes unpunished.
With some exceptions, Palestinian police lack the expertise and the will to address violence against women in a manner that is effective, sensitive to the needs of the victim and respectful of their privacy. As a result, police officers often turn to informal measures rather than serious investigations. When questioned, many were unapologetic about their efforts to encourage marriage between a rapist and his victim, sometimes with the assistance of influential clan leaders. They see intervention as a means of “solving” these cases. In addition, police often force women to return to their families even when there is a substantial threat of further harm.
“When confronted with cases of violence against women and girls, the Palestinian criminal justice system is more interested in avoiding public scandal than in seeing justice done,” said Lucy Mair, the report’s other researcher and co-author. “A woman’s basic right to life and bodily integrity is seen as a secondary concern at best.”
Selected testimonies from “A Question of Security”:
“He [my husband] used to beat me everywhere. He beat me with a rock on my leg … I never went to the hospital, and I didn’t even tell my parents. I was just thankful to be alive.” − Mariam Ismail (pseudonym), 35
“My problem started with my family. When I was 12, my brother attacked me, attacked me sexually…My brother was 24. He’d hit me. Everyone in my family knew. My father died when I was small, so there was no one to protect me. My brother would even hit my mother. I didn’t report it since there was no one to protect me. I couldn’t tell the police. I was not allowed to even leave the house.”
− Nada Omar (pseudonym), 30
“Rape cases are dealt with at the police station as special cases. Most of the time, the result is that they [the rapist and the victim] get married under the carpet to avoid scandal. Rape cases rarely go to courts … In all of these cases, the police want to solve the matter within the family without documentation.” − Palestinian women’s rights activist, Gaza
Women’s NGOs attribute the underreporting of violence to a variety of factors, including: the perceived futility of seeking justice; societal stigma associated with reporting family violence to the authorities; potentially life-threatening consequences of reporting the abuse; and the fact that the perpetrator is often the only breadwinner in the family.93
Public opinion polls also reveal that Palestinian society largely condones violence against women and discourages women from reporting abuse. A poll of 1,133 women conducted in 2002 by the Palestinian Working Women’s Society for Development in cooperation with the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion in Beit Sahour found that 53.7 percent of those polled thought that it was inappropriate for the police to interfere when a man assaults his wife; 55.5 percent felt that a wife beaten by her husband should not talk about it to anyone except her parents.95 When those who experienced violence were asked why they did not leave their abusive marriages, more than 70 percent reported that they refused to leave home because of fear of losing custody of their children. Close to 50 percent felt that divorce was too stigmatizing, and 21.9 percent reported that they would have no place to go if they left their homes.
Like children everywhere, Palestinian children, particularly girls, are vulnerable to physical and sexual abuse within the family and appropriate laws are needed to protect them. In a survey published in 2005, the PCBS found that 51.4 percent of Palestinian mothers believed that at least one of their children (aged five to 17) was exposed to violence, with the vast majority of such abuse (93.3 percent) being inflicted by family members.117 In another study, close to 80 percent of Palestinian girls aged five to 17 reported that they were exposed to violence in the home.118
An unknown number of Palestinian women and girls are victims of sexual abuse every year in the OPT. According to Palestinian social workers, few ever report this violence to their families or the authorities. Fewer still ever make it to the prosecutor’s office due to mediation that sometimes occurs between the victim, the rapist, and their respective families.129 One prosecutor who has worked in Hebron and Bethlehem for more than six years told Human Rights Watch that he has only prosecuted two cases of sexual violence in that time.130
In addition to the fear of being blamed or harmed by family members as a result of the attack,131 a number of legal obstacles stand in the way of victims seeking justice for sexual violence in the Palestinian courts. These obstacles include discriminatory and abusive laws that prohibit minors from pressing charges for incest and allow the courts to suspend the sentences of rapists who agree to marry their victim. The lack of the necessary expertise and tools to carry out criminal investigations in sexual violence cases is another obstacle. According to the same prosecutor, “the first problem in Palestine is that it’s very hard to carry out these kinds of investigations since we don’t have the technical capacity to do lab work or to collect evidence.”132
Originally posted by factfinder38
Wow if this was 4 soilders out of 140,000 it would make front page news. I am sure this is somehow Israels fault because these poor men had a bad upbringing because of no homeland.
Originally posted by laiguana
I'm more than happy that Israel provides them with a good example of what a true democracy is.
Same source as in the beginning of this thread
In Israel, an amendment to the Equal Rights for Women Law was passed in March 2000. The amendment deals with, inter alia, equal social rights for women in all spheres of life: the right of women over their bodies, protection against violence and trafficking, and representation for women in the public sector. The equality proposed by this law extended to all spheres of life except family life. Issues of marriage and divorce continued to be exclusively within the jurisdiction of the religious courts, be they Jewish, Christian, Muslim, or Druze. These courts controlled women's lives and their right to administer their lives. For example, under these religious courts, women did not have equal access to divorce. According to the Israel Women's Network, thousands of Jewish women continued to be a gunot, "chained" women whose husbands refused to divorce them. Mevoi Satum (Impasse), an Israeli organization dedicated to helping a gunot, estimated that over 97 percent of men who deny their wives a divorce were physically abusive.
Isn't that what a democracy does? To progress in a civilized manner. Where was the last time Palestinians tried to pass anything in favor of women's rights?
Equal Rights for Women Law was passed.
Originally posted by yanchek
Yes, laiguana I agree. I love true democracy.
In Israel, 200,000 women may be abused every year
JANET SILVER GHENT
JERUSALEM -- It could be a typical middle-class Israeli home.
A Fisher-Price farm sits on the living room floor, laundry hangs outside, children race in and out and in a homey kitchen downstairs, a mother prepares eggs for her two young boys.
But a television screen on the living room wall warns residents against approaching visitors. And the 12 women residents and their 25 children -- many of them emigres -- are forbidden to leave at night. Several years ago, when one woman walked out, against advice, to meet her husband, he killed her.
Domestic violence in Israel is on the rise. Approximately 200,000 Israeli women are battered each year, according to the Israel Women's Network. Some 40,000 of them reach emergency wards. Last year, 15 of these victims died.
Only about 2,000 women file charges or seek refuge in such facilities as the Jerusalem Shelter for Battered Women, which serves some 70 women and 100 children each year. The facility, one of 11 such shelters in Israel, collaborates with the Hadassah Medical Organization which forwards patients in need of housing. Four of the shelters are in Jerusalem.
Israel a Human Trafficking Haven
Wednesday, August 18, 2004
E-MAIL STORY RESPOND TO EDITOR PRINTER FRIENDLY VERSION Story tools
TEL AVIV, Israel — Human trafficking (search) is turning into a real problem in ]b
Israel, where law enforcement officials say women are bought and sold into the indentured servitude of the sex industry.
The women in question are usually from the former Soviet Union (search) and are traded by the Russian mob (search). The same Bedouins who smuggle weapons into Israel bring the women up through the Egyptian desert, oftentimes with a load of weapons.
"It's a kind of meat market. It's very brutal — most of this kind of auction," said Gadi Eshed of the Israel Police.
Thinking they are escaping the harsh conditions of home, a reported 3,000 prostitutes each year come to Israel. Their fist experience in the Holy Land is a forced march across the Egyptian desert, crossing the Israeli border through routes used to smuggle weapons and drugs.
Beyond the green line
There was a part of Johannesburg that most residents of the apartheid-era city never saw. By the 1970s, the bulk of the black population was already forced out under the Group Areas Act, which defined living areas by race. The Sophiatown neighbourhood, once a thriving corner of black life, was bulldozed and replaced by rows of dreary bungalows for whites. But several hundred thousand black people remained in Alexandra township, close to Johannesburg's most affluent neighbourhood, Sandton. The traffic out of Alexandra was one-way. Its residents left each day to work in the mines and shops or to clean homes in Sandton. Whites rarely ventured the short drive off Louis Botha avenue into the overcrowded, often squalid, unpaved back streets of an Alexandra deprived of a decent water supply, adequate schools and refuse collection.
The contrast between West and East Jerusalem is not as stark, but the disparities between Jewish and Arab neighbourhoods are underpinned by attitudes, policies and laws similar to those used against Johannesburg's black population. Most of Jerusalem's Jews never cross the "green line" - the international border that divided the city until 1967 - and many of those that do go only as far as the Wailing Wall to pray. If more Israelis were to travel deeper into the city they claim as their indivisible capital, they would encounter a different world from their own, a place where roads crumble, rubbish is left uncollected and entire Palestinian neighbourhoods are not connected to the sewage system.
According to the Israeli human rights group, B'Tselem, Jerusalem's Jewish population, who make up about 70% of the city's 700,000 residents, are served by 1,000 public parks, 36 public swimming pools and 26 libraries. The estimated 260,000 Arabs living in the east of the city have 45 parks, no public swimming pools and two libraries. "Since the annexation of Jerusalem, the municipality has built almost no new school, public building or medical clinic for Palestinians," says a B'Tselem report. "The lion's share of investment has been dedicated to the city's Jewish areas."