Thursday, December 03, 2020

Barghouti: No Justice for Palestine without Justice for Palestinian Women

By Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi - September 13, 2019
Section: [Main News] [Opinion]
Tags: [women‘s rights]

With the results of the ongoing investigation in the case of Isra’ Ghareeb confirming that she was killed after being subjected to terrible violence, I find myself compelled to speak about the loss of this young girl who was full of energy and vitality for life, which has sadly reminded us of many similar cases. Her slaying has become a public movement that articulates the urgent need to confront all forms of violence exerted, or might ever be wielded, upon Palestinian women and girls. It has also uncovered the glaring gaps in Palestinian laws and the legislative failure to protect the rights and lives of women.

Most prominent of these legislative breaches are the antiquated light penalty statutes, brought in fifty-nine years ago from Jordan, for men who slay women; add to that the fact that to this day, the law to protect Palestinian women and families was not ratified and issued as it was supposed to years ago. 

But, by far the broadest fissure in Palestinian laws is that the nation lost its Legislative Council as it was dissolved by the President of the Palestinian Authority, which unfortunately was largely dysfunctional for many years before its dissolution because of the internal political division.   

The problems do not end there. The Palestinians are constantly vulnerable to harsh criticism and rigorous accountability because of the ongoing internal conflict and non-implementation of legal rights and principles ratified in international agreements to which Palestine is a signatory; one particularly significant agreement is the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). But, the worst of all ramifications of these judicial flaws is that Israel does not waver in taking every opportunity to exploit these vulnerabilities.  

The absence of legislation granting rights and equal opportunities for women of all ages cannot be remedied with trite phrases such as “women are half of society” and “women are mothers, sisters and daughters”. The problem can only be solved with the ratification, adoption, and implementation of laws that protect freedoms, rights and lives, guaranteeing the security and safety of women and girls from all forms of discrimination and assault, and that prohibit and punish any form of gender-based violence.

These rights cannot be assured unless we accept the rooted reality that Palestinian women were and are contributing to the struggle for the cause, to the economy and the development of society just as much as men. In fact, in many cases, women contribute more in their role as caregivers to generations of children.  

The case of Isra’ Ghareeb has raised two painful crucial issues in Palestinian society: equality in the eyes of the law and its just implementation for all without discrimination, and the matter of legal political, social, and economic rights.   

It is, therefore, not at all odd that the public calls for the protection of women’s lives and rights came with demands for democratic elections and revival of the Palestinian legislative institution. Without a legislative body, the principle of separation of powers can never be realized because that body is the foundation of political and social balance.  

We will not be victorious in our struggle against the oppressive occupation, its tyranny and racial discrimination, unless we instate justice within our own ranks, and only when every Palestinian firmly believes he or she is struggling for a country that dispenses justice for all, not only for a select group to the detriment of the rest of people. 

With that, the lives and rights of Palestinian women would become integral foundations for triumph in the national struggle for freedom, and hence comes the veracity of saying, “no justice for Palestine without justice for Palestinian women.”

Dr. Mustafa Barghouti is the Secretary General of the Palestinian National Innitiative.

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