29 04. 2021
PCHR Demands Authorities in Gaza to Respect Personal Freedoms and Gender Equality
Date: 29 April 2021
Time: 15:30 GMT
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns the verbal and physical assault by a member of the field control forces of the Ministry of the Interior in the Gaza Strip, against Rewaa’ Ahmed Mershed (26), a journalist at Zmn FM radio station and other newspapers. The assault occurred on grounds of the journalist from taking photos in an open area and for not wearing Hijab.
PCHR emphasizes that Security Services’ interference in personal freedoms, including the women’s freedom to choose what to wear, constitutes a flagrant violation of personal freedoms and discrimination against women. Furthermore, assaulting and beating women by police forces is considered a serious precedent that infringes on Palestinian women’s status, Palestinian social values and human rights.
In her statement to PCHR researcher, Ms. Mershed said:
“At approximately 16:00, on Sunday, 25 April 2021, I headed with two colleagues to an agricultural land in Juhor al-Dik, southern Gaza Strip, to take some personal photos in the green areas, after taking the landowner’s permission. One hour later, two persons wearing military uniforms came on a motorcycle and ordered us to introduce ourselves and took our ID cards. One of them told the photographer that “you are a stranger to these women and must not be in their company.” He then asked me why I am not covering my hair, so I told him that it is none of his business, so he ordered us to stay until the women’s police arrive. Meanwhile, they ordered us to leave the place, and I heard that one of them said: “We have to make sure that the girl without hijab left the place and cursed at me. I immediately replied, “Are you talking to me?” “Shut up!” he replied, and then cut off a tree branch and hit me 3 times all over my body, and stopped when he saw me crying, then we left”.
The Ministry of the Interior issued a brief statement, “We received a letter from the Independent Commission for Human Rights on a complaint from Rewaa’ Mershed saying that she was exposed to violence while present in an agricultural land in the border area, east of Juhor al-Dik, with a young man and woman. Accordingly, the Ministry of the Interior decided to open an investigation into the complaint”.
PCHR warns that the assault against Mershed may be interpreted within an ideological context as an attempt to impose certain beliefs on the Gaza Strip; PCHR calls upon the authorities in Gaza to respect the cultural diversity which distinguishes the Palestinian society, and not to allow its servicemen to infringe on personal freedoms under any pretext.
PCHR calls upon authorities in Gaza to express a clear stance on its respect for cultural diversity and personal freedoms in the Gaza Strip.
PCHR stresses that the Centre is following the Ministry’s investigation and is waiting for the results to be publicly released, with emphasis that this assault cannot be overlooked as it is a dangerous breach of women’s status in our society. As such, all those responsible for the assault must be held accountable according to the law.