After a brief 12-day visit to Israel in early September of this year, a United Nations (UN) special commissioner came to the repugnant conclusion that Arab policy of rampant women beatings and abuse is largely to blame on the Jewish state.
UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, Dubravka Simonovic, came to Israel to promote women’s rights and to investigate issues of violence against women and girls. Throughout her tour of the Palestinian Authority and Arab communities in Israel, Simonovic interviewed many Arab women, noting in her report to the UN, “domestic violence, early marriages, sexual violence, including rape and incest, as well as killings in the name of ‘honour’”.
Simonovic stated in her report that honor killings in the Palestinian Authority were part of the culture and leniencies in the Jordanian-based legal system encouraged it.
But her conclusion was that the dominant factor contributing to these phenomena was “the context of prolonged occupation”.
For Palestinians living under Hamas rule in Gaza, the influence from Israel should not be a factor. Nonetheless, Simonovic’s report listed Israel as the primary cause of Gazan husbands beating their wives. “Domestic violence, in particular in Gaza, [is] due to the constant pressure felt by the blockade,” she stated in her report.
Despite having already found fault with the law under the PA and its prevailing male-dominant culture, she ironically portrayed the PA as a refuge for women.
“If a woman divorces her husband in the West Bank and obtains the custody of her children, the father could take the children with him in another area, under the control of the Israeli authorities, such as Jerusalem and therefore the law cannot be enforced by the Palestinian authorities,” Simonovic notes.
That the UN Rapporteur on violence against women would view the PA as a haven is frustrating but not altogether surprising. A survey by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics from 2011 showed that 35 percent of married women in Gaza had been on the receiving end of physical violence at the hand of their husbands during the previous twelve months, and that 40 percent of unmarried women had been physically abused by a member of their household.
The UN representative proposed a cure for Israel-based Palestinian abuse of women: renewed negotiations.
“I would like to call both sides to start a new peace process in which women would fully participate and even take the lead and in which international human rights law and humanitarian law would be applied jointly,” Simonovic concluded.