Thank you, Madam Chair. This statement is on behalf of (Al-Muntada) representing 17 organizations.

Violence against women and girls in the Palestinian society reflects the outcome of imbalance in power relations existing between women and men. The State of Palestine has failed to introduce an integrated legal system that could reduce gender based discrimination to eliminate all violence practiced against women and girls in any legislation it has issued. At the same time no policies and measures were taken by the state to change the traditional attitudes and modify social and cultural patterns.

In the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics survey on domestic violence, it was shown that 37% of women who are, or who have been, married, have been exposed to some form of violence (psychological, economical, social, sexual, and physical) by their husband. 29.9% in the West Bank compared to 51.1% in Gaza Strip. 65.3% of them remained silent.

Femicide is prevalent and is on the increase as well. Many of these femicides are based on what is so called “honor”, which plays an important role in the Palestinian society, or at least use it as a pretext to deprive women of their legal rights.

Marital rape is not penalized. While article 308 of the Jordanian Penal code which covers 13 sexual crimes  by  wavering legal proceeding if the perpetrator marries his victim was repealed last March by a presidential Decree, the monitoring of both legal proceedings and administrative measures is required to ensure that it is no more de-facto or de-jure implemented.

In cases of incest the current penal laws view both parties to the sexual act as guilty without taking into consideration power relations and male domination within the family. Abortion is legally criminalized and women can be in prison for three to six years for having an abortion including cases of rape. Anyone who supports the abortion process may be in prison from one to three years. We call on the State of Palestine to enact a law allowing for safe abortion.

In addition, women with disabilities suffer from another layer of discrimination and are subject to sexual violence and sterilization. No official measures have been taken  to penalize such acts and protect the victims.

According to current Penal Laws in the West Bank and Gaza, children born out of the wedlock are provided names (first, middle, and surname) by the state but are not given full family names including their mother or the foster family.

In 2011 a draft of a Palestinian Penal Law was drafted in consultation with civil society. While in 2016 a draft Palestinian Family Protection Law was developed, as there is no real political will for the passage of these laws.

Recommendations:

  • Redefine rape in the Palestinian law so as to include marital rape in accordance with CEDAW and the Istanbul Convention.
  • Adopt the draft Palestinian Penal Law of 2011, and the Family Protection Law.

 

Sama Aweidah

 

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