On the Occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women: PCHR Calls for Doubling Efforts to Curb Violence against Women in the Occupied Palestinian Territory
In 1999, the UN designated 25 November of each year as the UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. This designation comes as part of the UN efforts to curb violence against women in the world, and to encourage governments to take actions and procedures in this regard. It is noted that violence against women is a flagrant violation of women’s human rights. In addition, violence is one form of gender-based discrimination that violates that is a violation of international law, especially the UN Charter and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.
This year, the international day for the elimination of violence against women comes at a time of continuous suffering for Palestinian women due to the violence perpetrated against them by Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) and Palestinian society. Palestinian women are subjected to serious human rights violations at the hands of IOF troops that include killing, death of kin, destruction of houses, forced migration, detention, and humiliation at military checkpoints even for pregnant women in labor, some of whom died at these checkpoints.
The Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) has been subject of an escalation of IOF crimes since the start of the year. A total of 33 women and 116 children have been killed so far this year, most of them in the Gaza Strip. One of the most gruesome instances of disregard of civilian lives took place in the Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun on 8 November 2006. On that day, IOF shelled Palestinian houses killing 19 civilians, including 7 women and 6 children, and injuring 53 others, including 12 women and 25 children.
The lives of Palestinian women have been greatly affected by the siege and closure imposed by IOF on the OPT, especially over the past few months. The effect on women is more acute since they are more vulnerable to the deteriorating living conditions, as their families declined further into poverty due to the suspension of international aid to the Palestinian people since the swearing in of the last Palestinian Cabinet.
The violence against Palestinian women is not only from IOF, but also from Palestinian society. Women still suffer from gender-based discrimination, and are subject to different forms of violence and marginalization. The status quo of security chaos and misuse of weapons has affected women. PCHR statistics indicate that, since the beginning of 2006, ten women were killed in what is termed as “honor killings;” and 12 women were killed in other incidents of security chaos and misuse of weapons. In addition, there is an increase in the number of women who are victims of family violence, including physical, psychological, and sexual violence. And in the absence of the rule of law and spread of vigilante justice, violence against women in Palestinian society will continue to escalate.
PCHR is extremely concerned over the suffering of Palestinian women due to IOF violations and internal violence, which have led to these women paying a heavy price. The Centre stresses:
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) is an independent legal body based in Gaza City dedicated to protecting human rights, promoting the rule of law and upholding democratic principles in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. It holds Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations and is an affiliate of the International Commission of Jurists, the Federation Internationale des Ligues des Droits de l’Homme (FIDH), and the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network. PCHR is a recipient of the 1996 French Republic Award for Human Rights.