Statement of Appreciation
On the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women
“Right of Return and Dignity for Palestinian Women”
PWWSD Demands an End to Violence against Palestinian Women
Ramallah – November 23: On November 15th of each year falls the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, a day designated by the UN in December 1999 to promote the elimination of violence against women around the world, where governments, international organizations, and NGOs raise awareness of this dangerously growing phenomenon. The day also marks the launch of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign.
This day comes at a time of ongoing suffering for Palestinian women since the Nakba of 1948 when the Zionist movement uprooted our people from their land and turned two thirds of the population into refugees. The violence continues today at the hands of occupation forces and settlers leaving a catastrophic impact on our people, particularly on women and girls. The year 2016 saw the detainment of over 68 citizens, including 13 young girls and 13 women, some wounded by occupation forces. This comes as the suffering of women detained in occupation prisons continues since the moment of their detainment, where they experience beating, humiliation, and insults. At the same time, suffocating restrictions are escalating over female detainees experiencing all kinds of psychological and physical violence in investigation rooms. This year also witnessed the killing of 17 women and girls at military checkpoints scattered all over Palestinian land, with their bodies being held hostage by the occupation. In addition to the collective punishment policies against our people in the Gaza Strip, from systematic siege, killing, and destruction, as well as escalating the judaization of Jerusalem, land confiscation, and home demolition, without any response from the international community and international organizations demanding an end to occupation violence against Palestinian citizens, and ignoring all international tools to hold Israel accountable for its crimes against justice and human security.
All statistical data points to the relationship between colonial military violence and the societal violence against women in its physical and psychological forms, where society is dominated by a sociocultural heritage ripe with patriarchal values and where the rule of law is not respected, especially when it comes to women’s issues and domestic violence. 8 women were killed in Palestinian territories under suspicious circumstances from the start of 2016 until October 30.
PWWSD statistics show an increase in battered women (reaching 325 cases) coming to the organization in 2016, compared to only (243) women last year. These numbers are mainly cases of domestic and physical violence.
On this day and every day, PWWSD calls on all official and human rights organizations to work tirelessly for issuing modern laws meeting women’s needs and ending their oppression, as well as getting rid of the current obsolete laws directly or indirectly legitimizing violence in their texts by legitimizing discrimination against women. The organization also calls for promoting women’s participation in political life and decision-making positions.
PWWSD calls for adapting Palestinian legislation, especially basic, personal status, and penal laws, to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) signed by Palestine in April 2014.
The organization demands constitutionalizing women’s rights as indivisible human rights on the basis of full equality, as well as the need to form a supervisory body against gender-based violence (GBV), both as a principle and a constitutional text to bridge the gap between legal texts and real-world application in the daily lives of women and girls.
PWWSD emphasizes the need to draft the family protection from violence law, as well as making changes to the school curriculum and all other educational tools responsible for building community awareness and discourse, when it comes to women’s status and rights being protected from discrimination, violence, exclusion, and marginalization. The organization also call for deeply entrenching the principles of democracy and human progress. On this path, Palestine must commit to conducting periodical surveys and publishing statistics every 5 years through the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. This contributes to developing policies for dealing with violence and allocating a government budget for battered women, as well as making intersectoral policies to establish permanent safe houses for women, allocating a budget for these places, and training qualified staff to operate them.
The organization notes that Palestinian women’s right to life continues to be violated. A right recognized by all conventions and religions, protected by international human rights agreements, conventions, and treaties, and guaranteed by the Palestinian basic law of 2003. However, every year passes by with more Palestinian women losing their lives to “honor killing”, despite a presidential decree criminalizing the act by removing article 340 which allows leniency to killers of women and girls. This requires drafting the new Palestinian penal code approved by all parties.
PWWSD also calls on President Mahmoud Abbas to bring justice to women and protect their right to life by issuing decrees and amendments to a number of laws, until the legislative council returns to its role issuing Palestinian laws to ensure Palestinian dignity and unify our people in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The organization also hopes to achieve national reconciliation as soon as possible, so the legislative institution can actively practice its duty; issuing laws and legislation to serve all segments of society.
The organization affirms that Palestinian women still face various forms of violence and oppression. Society detracts from their right to participate in public life despite being qualified and statistically higher academically-achieving than men. Their right to inheritance and ownership is also challenged, lowering their socioeconomic status. In addition to military violence attempting to demean their value and seize their lives.
PWWSD demands that all national and international powers provide human security and end all discrimination against women in accordance with international humanitarian law, international human rights law, CEDAW, and UNSCR 1325 concerning women’s protection and security under occupation, and their equal participation in decision making.
On this day, the Palestinian Working Woman Society for Development promises the women of Palestine to continue moving forward in the struggle for freedom, justice, and equality.
End of statement.