At least 31 Palestinian women have been murdered in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 2002 in what is known as “honor killings”, where a female is executed by a male member of her family for perceived misuse of her sexuality.
Most of the victims were under the age of 18 and some had been sexually abused or raped by male relatives, according to statistics released by Palestinian police Thursday.
The latest murder was perpetrated earlier this week when a woman from a village near Ramallah strangled to death her 17-year-old daughter for staying away from home for a few days. The mother has been arrested, but her family is employing heavy pressure on the Palestinian Authority to release her “so she can attend to her other children.”
“It’s a very serious problem,” said Dr. Azmi Shuaibi, member of the Legal Committee of the Palestinian Legislative Council. “The entire society bears the responsibility in combating this phenomenon. The first step should be to recognize that the problem e”
Shuaibi said he planned to hold a special session of the Legal committee to discuss the issue of “honor killings” to pave the way for a PLC meeting that would discuss violence against women.
Maisoun Wahidi, a senior official with the PA’s Ministry of Social Welfare, said “honor killings’ constitute a very serious threat to Palestinian society. “Most of the victims are adolescent girls who were sexually abused or raped by members of their families and later killed for bringing shame,” she explained. Wahidi said the ministry was working toward opening shelters for battered women and victims of sexual abuse.
The deputy commander of the Ramallah and al Bireh police, Abdel Karim Abu Rabi, revealed that there has been a significant rise in cases of violence against women over the past few months in comparison with 2002.
In 2002, he said, his station received 31 complaints related to the use of violence against women, including one murder case. By contrast, police have dealt with 8 similar complaints since the beginning of this year.
According to figures released by women organizations, there has also been a significant rise in the number of cases of incest in Palestinian society. One of the women groups reported more than 400 cases in the West Bank during 2002.