On Sunday, May 10th, 2015 at 10:00 am, the activities of “Legal Protection of Battered Women in the Palestinian Society, Reality and Challenges Conference” are launched in Sahar Al-Lialy hall in the middle of Rafah.
This conference comes to the end the series of activities are conducted within “Emergency Legal Assistance to the Affected People in Rafah Due to the 2014 War on Gaza Project”, supported by UNDP/PAPP.
195 persons, including lawyers, human rights organizations’ representatives, journalists and civil society activists -males and females- attend the conference.
The conference included two sessions, where the first session is entitled “Women’s Rights, Realities and expectations” and the second session is entitled “Promoting Legal Protection of Battered Women”.
Dr. Ibrahim Muammar, chairman of NSDL, opened the conference welcoming guests and attendance, and thanking UNDP/PAPP for supporting this project. He stressed on the importance of organizing this conference in these deteriorating conditions the Palestinian society experience after the last war on the Gaza Strip, which resulted in heavy casualties in human beings and properties. Then he stressed on the importance of providing the legal protection for women upon the terms and conditions of the International Law.
He talked about the role of the Palestinian women in building and developing process, criticizing all forms of physical and verbal violence are used against against in the Gaza Strip.He also confirmed that Palestinian women are struggler and worthy to be appreciated and equality, mentioning the blatant violations they experienced during the last Israeli war on the Gaza Strip, which resulted in the martyrdom of 200 Palestinian women and the sufferings they experienced during dwelling UNRWA evacuation centers, and calling to work on all levels in order to provide the sufficient protection to protect women and stop violation against.
After the opening speech, a documentary video about the important activites and achievement of the project was presented.
The activates started with announcing the launch of the first session, was chaired by the lawyer Ahmed Al-Ghoul from Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR).
Mrs. Majeda Shehada, from the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), presented a worksheet about the international legislations which talks about women rights and 1957 convention, which stipulates on the importance of retaining women’s nationalities and 1962 convention, which stipulates on the consent to marriage and registering marriage deeds.
Mrs. Shehada talked about the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which is the most important international convention is against discrimination against women and grants them equality right with women, where it became into force in 19981.
From his part, the lawyer Younis Attahrawy, from the Palestinian Center for Democracy and Conflict Resolution (PCDCR), presented a worksheet about women’s rights in the Palestinian laws, mentioning that the Palestinian laws suffers from contrarieties and oppositions due occupation and the Palestinian division.
Mr. Younis confirmed that the three Palestinian laws, Palestinian Basic Law, Personal Status Law or Palestinian Labor Law, are good laws in general, but are in need to development to be more suitable with the modern era, especially that some of are legislated during the Ottoman Empire and the Egyptian rules in Palestine.
Mr. Saber Annerab, the human rights official in the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Gaza, confirmed that the Palestinian laws made a considerable progress in development, and they are more developed than laws in other countries, the their development has stopped due to the political changes.
Mr. Annerab mentioned that harmony of these laws with the international laws which are concerned about Human rights, and the conventions the Palestinian Authority (PA) signed, especially CEDAW, which PA signed to be committed to in Palestine since 2014.
Minister’s of Palestinian Women Affairs Speech:
The minister of Palestinian Women Affairs, Dr. Haifa Al-Agha, talked about the Palestinian women, their continues struggles, their rule in building the Palestinian society and enhancing its steadfastness.
Dr. Al-Agha confirmed that Palestinian women experience violations anywhere. In the West Bank, the Israeli soldiers use varied methods to humiliate and harass the Palestinian women in the Israeli checkpoints, restricting their freedom and detaining them. In the Gaza Strip, the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) committed many killing crimes against women, displaced them during the last Israeli war on the Gaza Strip and violated all the laws and the conventions the protect women from violations.
In diaspora camps, the Palestinian women were not safe from violence and torture, they were victims of conflicts they did not involve in.
Dr. Al-Agha confirmed that there are several forms of violations are committed against women, criticizing what is said by some people.
The journalist Mohammed Al-Jamal, a journalist in Al-Ayyam Newspaper and a member of BOD of NSDL, chaired the second session.
Mr. Ghassan Abu-Hatab, the coordinator of Center for Development Studies – Beirzeit University in the Gaza Strip talked about the approach of Ministry of Women in the West Bank, which is better than the approach in the Gaza Strip, and called for unifying these approaches.
The Mr. Abu-Hatab indicated that there is a retreatment in the Palestinian women movement, and this affects the role of women in the Palestinian Society.
After that, Mr. Abu-Hatab provided shocking statistics and numbers confirm the decrease the role of women in the legislative and factional establishments, the political field and even in gaining job opportunities in privet and governmental establishments.
The activist journalist Samia Al-Zubaidy, the coordinator of Media Development Center – Birzeit University in the Gaza Strip, presented a worksheet about the role of media in opposing violence against women, confirming that the Palestinian media is violent in general being as experienced three wars within a short period in addition to its coverage and images of violence it presents. This affected minds negatively and increased use of violence by the Palestinian people.
Al-Zubaidy criticized the Palestinian media in using women in tragic sciences as a crier, homeless, widow and stricken, where women played a pivotal role in building developing processes, enhancing steadfastness and calling media to give them their rights before and after the last war.
The lawyer Fatima Ashour, from Access to Justice Network – Awn, confirmed that many articles of the Palestinian law deal unjustly with women, but also they provide a cover to commit crimes against and does not give them their minimum rights.
Palestinian Labor Law ignores housewives’ and teachers’ in kindergartens rights. Palestinian Civil Service Law deprives wives from mirage or sons’ allowances, and gives them to men. Palestinian Personal Status Law deprives mothers from custody of her children if she got married, and gives duplicated custody rights to men.
Then Ms. Ashour confirmed that what is called “mitigating excuse” in the Palestinian law encourages many men to commit crimes against women for “honor”. They emerge clearly in the big number of crimes are committed in the recent years, criticizing abrogating this article in the West Bank with a presidential decision, while it still effective in the Gaza Strip.
After that, Ms. Ashour stressed that Palestinian women are in need to laws protect them from the cruelty the control of man and better life conditions stop discrimination against.
Discussions and Debates:
After opening discussions and debates, the participations and the attendance concluded several recommendations, the most important recommendations are: working on stopping all forms of discrimination against women, equality between men and women in all fields, and amending the Palestinian bylaws in order to access to justice between men and women.
The participants also called for making a unified plan in order to improve role of women, increase the representation of women in decision-making centers, and increase media attention to highlight women’s issues, focusing on the importance of amending the effective bylaws in Palestine to be more suitable with the modern era and deal justly with women.
Honoring Project Team:
The activities of the conference have been ended with honoring the team of the project by distributing acknowledgements merit plaques for their efforts to implement project activities successfully in order to promote rule of law and access to justice.