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On International Women’s Day: Renewed Calls for Justice, Protection and Equality for Palestinian Women

Ref: 10/2020

8th of March marks the International Women’s Day (IWD) which was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1977.  This day symbolizes women’s ongoing fight and struggle for their rights, justice and equality and to ensure Women’s exercise of their rights codified in all international laws and standards.

IWD comes this year while Palestinian women still suffer unbearable conditions in light of the deteriorating human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) on the one hand and the ongoing Palestinian division on the other hand along with the remarkably increased violence against women by the society.

In terms of Israeli occupation forces (IOF’s) violations last year, IOF carried out a military escalation against the Gaza Strip, killing 3 women and wounding 8 others, from 12 to 14 November 2019.  Moreover, IOF committed grave violations against the participants in the Great March of Return (GMR) protests, resulting in the killing of 3 women and injury of 477 others.  Women have paid heavy price due to these violations either when they were directly wounded or when their children and husbands were killed or wounded, making their lives more difficult and complex.

In the West Bank, women are subject to violations additional to those experienced by women in the Gaza Strip, including house raids, arrest campaigns, as there are around 42 female prisoners in Damon prisons in Israel while due to the daily arrests in January 2020, the number of women arrested by the IOF reached 16.  Moreover, IOF impose severe restrictions on freedom of movement due to the temporary and permanent checkpoints as well as settlers’ attacks against civilians with the IOF support.

On the internal Palestinian level, the Palestinian division is considered one of the reasons behind aggregating the suffering of Palestinian women through dissolving the Palestinian Legislative Council that has obstructed adopting of laws that are more fair and equitable for women.

Year of 2019 and the offset of 2020 witnessed an increase in murders against women on various backgrounds. In 2019, 14 women were murdered: 8 in the West Bank and 6 in the Gaza Strip, 3 grounds of the so-called “family honour.” Also in February 2020, a 25-year-old woman died upon arrival to al-Shifa Hospital; after examination by the forensic department that declared it was due to strangulation and pressure on the neck.

Palestinian women continue to suffer from gender-based violence, which has exacerbated due to the overall deterioration in the economic and social living conditions, particularity in the Gaza Strip.

PCHR congratulates Palestinian women on the International Women’s Day and reiterates its support for them wherever they are, especially that they live in exceptional circumstances under the Israeli occupation, the Palestinian internal division and a patriarchal society that discriminates between men and women.

PCHR asserts the importance of providing protection for Palestinian women and girls, and:

  1. emphasizes that it is the responsibility of the international community according to its contractual obligations to force the Israeli occupation to lift the closure on the Gaza Strip, respect human rights and abide by the principles of international humanitarian law and international human rights law towards the Palestinian people as a people under occupation;
  2. Calls upon the Human Rights Council and the contracting bodies to international treaties, especially CEDAW to work towards investigating the grave and systematic Israeli violations of women’s rights.
  3. The PA must take the necessary measures to put an end to community violence, to hold perpetrators of crimes against women accountable and to adopt protection against family violence law.
  4. The PA must fulfil its international obligations following Palestine’s accession to CEDAW; and
  5. Palestinian political factions and civil society organizations should impose appropriate policies to ensure the integration of Palestinian women into their organizations and in the private and public institutions in order to achieve support and reinforcement of their struggle.