Palestinian Women's Rights

Palestinian women suffer dually under the Israeli occupation and in the context of a strict social patriarchy imposed by a combination of “traditional” Arabic culture.


PCHR has a Women’s Unit which is tasked with training women on their rights under international and domestic law, conducting advocacy work on behalf of women and providing free legal representation for women in the Sha’ria (Islamic family law) Court system.  The Unit has also just started a three year programme (2005-2007) educating women and providing legal aid for them on the issue of violence against women which will cooperate with other grassroots civil society organizations and governmental institutions to help realise a change on this issue.


Much of PCHR’s work on Women’s Rights is conducted in Arabic and is not translated (eg. our handbook on Family Law Rights).  However, increasingly, the Centre is intervening at the international level to bring attention to the dual suffering of Palestinian women.

PCHR Documents

PCHR has submitted a number of interventions to international bodies

PCHR, WCLAC and al Haq Joint Intervention to CEDAW (January 2005).

PCHR WCLAC and al Haq response to questions by CEDAW to Israel (May 2005).

PCHR intervention to the 2005 UN Commission on Human Rights on the issue of Women’s Rights (March 2005).

Frequently Asked Questions about Women’s Rights

PCHR has also formulated a list of Frequently Asked Questions which may be of interest to those conducting basic research on the Centre’s work and fields of expertise.

What is Sha’ria Law – what has it got to do with human rights?

PCHR’s Women’s Unit has two Sha’ria lawyers.  They provide free legal representation to women who have been affected by a family issue.  The Sha’ria is the Islamic Legal system which governs family law in Palestine.  It is derived from the writings and sayings of the Isalmic Prophet Muhammad as expressed through the Qu’ran and the Sunna, among other items.


Sha’ria law covers a wide range of issues.  PCHR lawyers continue to represent women on issues such as: divorce, custody rights for children, child support, visitation rights, domestic violence, honour killings, early marriage, inheritance rights and others.


Although Sha’ria law may not always be consistent with international human rights law PCHR believes that it must use every available legal avenue to assist women and that, currently, this is the best avenue available to women.  Naturally PCHR advocates for the full inclusion of human rights standards within Palestinian domestic law.


What does PCHR do for Palestinian children?


Because of the fact that Palestinian women are considered to be primary care givers to children the Women’s Unit also represents the interests of children legally or on issues such as early marriage.  The Unit also cooperates closely with the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Unit to document Israeli violations against Children (who represent about 1/3 of the total killings throughout the al Aqsa Intifada).


If PCHR works on gender issues then why don’t you work on LGBTQ rights?


Because of the overwhelming workload imposed by the occupation, the necessity for more general democratic development and the work of helping thousands of women and children attain their rights PCHR has determined that sexuality can not be considered a strategic priority.


However PCHR does believe that human rights must be granted to all sections of the Palestinian population, that this principle should be enshrined into Palestinian law.  In addition, PCHR offers free legal aid to anybody whose human rights have been violated.