Ending violence against women

Behind my back (photo: UN Women/Aysha:Mehwar Centre)

In the occupied Palestinian territory, women and girls continue to experience integrated systems of violence, based on continuing military occupation, human rights violations, and a growing humanitarian crisis, compounded with traditions, religion and patriarchal norms. Rights violations occur in the private as well as in the public sphere, ranging from issues such as marriage/divorce, child custody, reproductive health and domestic violence, on the one hand, to access to education and economic opportunities, on the other. The level of violence against women and girls (VAWG) remains high and a culture of silence and stigma persists around the phenomenon. Recently, cases of reported femicide have increased, with several of the killings occurring brazenly in public places such as streets and markets.

Access to protection and associated services is key, yet remains challenging. Limited access of women to employment opportunities and sustainable financial income, an overwhelming burden of care responsibilities, as well as the marginalization imposed due to geographical fragmentation and associated movement restriction, multiply women’s vulnerability to violence and hinder opportunities to enhance their personal and social status or to access justice and security services. 

While the Palestinian Basic Law focuses on equality between men and women, the principles highlighting gender equality are not expressed in all Palestinian laws. The implementation of these principles is further complicated by the fact that different legal frameworks apply in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, including a mixture of Ottoman, British Mandate, Jordanian, Egyptian and Israeli laws. There is also a lack of Palestinian jurisdictional power in the so-called ‘Area C’ and in East Jerusalem, which are governed under Israeli law. Furthermore, the paralysis of the Palestinian Legislative Council and the separation of authority between the West Bank and Gaza Strip, have meant that amendments to legal frameworks are happening in a disjointed manner and with considerable inconsistency.

Our Approach

UN Women has supported and continues to support the Palestinian Government in the development and implementation of the National Strategy to Combat Violence against Women 2011-2019. Within this framework and in partnership with civil society organizations, UN Women addresses the multi-faceted issue of violence against women and girls through a holistic approach, along the protection–justice–security continuum, through developing, strengthening and institutionalizing systems, policies, procedures and mechanisms to make the justice system equitable and accessible for women and girls victims of violence. UN Women applies an approach that on the one hand, uses international standards and on the other, amplifies women’s voices, particularly those who are most prone to exclusion and discrimination. Through this approach, UN Women tackles different areas of intervention, from violence prevention to victims’ protection and empowerment, from legal reforms and policy development to data collection and analysis. UN Women also supports the implementation of innovative actions – such as the first specialized anti-violence centre “Mehwar” and the first National Observatory on VAW – as catalysts for change.