Human Rights and the Palestinian Territories

Our Head of External Relations, Elizabeth Anderson discusses our new briefing note written by Charlotte Littlewood and Elizabeth Arif-Fear on Human Rights and the Palestinian Territories.

The first letter I ever had published in a national newspaper was my horror at arranged marriages in the middle east – I was 12.  Women’s rights, and especially those in less developed nations – have always been a major concern to me.  Which is why I am glad that today we’ve been able to publish a paper by Charlotte Littlewood and Elizabeth Arif-Fear on such an important issue – human rights abuses through honour-based violence in the Palestinian Territories.

Their research shows that one of the biggest factors leading to deaths of women in Palestine through so called “honour” killings is down to the lack of legal protection for women in girls.  And despite protests in the region seeking stronger laws, global media coverage is tiny.  One of the horrifying stories, shared widely within the Arabic speaking world but much less so anywhere outside it, is that of 21-year-old Israa Ghareeb.

Israa suffered a stroke.  Aged 21.  Why?  Because her family caused her horrific injuries, reportedly breaking her spine.  It is further evidenced by film of her in hospital screaming in pain as she is abused by her brother – because she had brought dishonour on her family.  What was this terrible thing she had done?  She had shared a selfie on social media of her with her fiancé.

Something that for so many of us is an everyday act, led to her being persistently abused until her body could no longer take it.  The people who did this were her own family – Israa’s brother is Canadian.

Charlotte and Elizabeth’s paper reflects that “a woman’s life is seemingly worth less than her families “honour””.

Terrible examples are heard about across the world.  But in Palestine the difficulties are magnified by leaders who seem to refuse to look beyond their conflict with Israel, and therefore are not providing the protections and support that those they claim to want to represent.

At every opportunity, in every way, it is everyone’s responsibility to call out the attitudes that place women in mortal danger.  We need mounting pressure to address these issues, across the world, throughout communities – at national level and at local level.  And we need women’s lives to be valued – because life is surely more valuable than anything else in the world.

You can read their paper for yourself here.

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