Will New Palestinian Agency Be Enough To Stop Violence Against Women?
The situation of violence against women in the Palestinian territory primarily focuses on the increase in the number of cases of violence against women and the reasons that contribute towards the failure to curb such a vital and growing issue. The major factors that have been pointed out for the failure include the lack of political will and lack of accurate statistics.
To tackle the issue, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs is laying down plans to establish the National Observatory on Violence Against Women that will work in conjunction with other institutions such as the Ministries of Social Affairs and Health, the police and the civil society. The Observatory, which is likely to come into being within one year, aims at gauging the gravity of the problem by collecting and analyzing statistical data. Amin Assi, General Girector of Planning and Policy in the Ministry of Women’s Affairs stated, “The idea…stems from the ministry’s main purpose to end all forms of discrimination and violence against women.”
The Palestinian Bureau of Statistics’ 2011 survey showed that 37% of married women were subjected to violence by their husbands, which included verbal, mental, physical, economic and sexual violence. However, 65.3% of the women sufferers preferred to remain silent. The Observatory along with other centers and institutions that document cases of abuse, would provide women with the opportunity to raise their voices and be heard.
Cases of violence by the Israeli soldiers will also be brought to the forefront by the Observatory and would be utilized to pressurize Israel both on international and regional levels. However, it is also contended that the Observatory would not be enough to eliminate such violence. There is a need to change outdated laws and bring them up to par with international conventions such as the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). The Jordanian Penal Code of 1960 needs to be amended, acts such as violence need to be criminalized and the Family Protection Act needs to be passed.
It has been pointed out by many people that the real problem lies in the Jordanian Penal Code, as it does not focus on the principles of the Palestinian Basic Law, rather emphasizes on the subordinate status of women with no right to self-determination. President Mahmoud Abbas in 2014 called upon the government to form a committee and review all outdated legislation that discriminate against women, and to bring forward the necessary legal amendments.