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Palestinians See Worrisome Trend in 'Honor' Killings Rise

Palestinians See Worrisome Trend in 'Honor' Killings Rise

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Palestinian Honour Killings
Palestinian Honour Killings

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Published by: bgeller4936 on Dec 24, 2013
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05/22/2014

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Ynetnews > News > Magazineynetnewsweb
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Violence AgainstWomen
Past year saw 27 women slain for 'family honor'reasons in Palestinian-run areas – more than twicelast year's victims. 'It's standard,' says Aqqabaresident
Reuters
Published: 12.11.13, 10:50 / Israel News
 A silvery green olive grove set in the ed soil of a Palestinian village is a crime scene - testament to a practice so sensitive that it is spoken of only in whispers. One night in late November, Rasha Abu Ara, a 32-year-oldmother of five, was beaten to death and strung from a gnarledtree branch as a gruesome badge of "family honor" restored. 
Related stories: Yemeni burns daughter to death for contacting fiancéGaza wedding: 15-year-old groom, 14-year-old brideIndictment: Man set fire to daughter for meeting menonline
 The woman's alleged sin was adultery, and her killer was either her own brother or husband, security sources told Reuters. Bothare behind bars while an investigation continues. Her murder brought to 27 the number of women slain in similar circumstances in Palestinian-run areas this year, according torights groups - more than twice last year's victims. The rise has led Palestinians to question hidebound laws theysay are lax on killers, as well as a reluctance to name and shamein the media and society, which may contribute to a feeling of impunity among perpetrators. "It feels like something that belongs to another time," said oneyoung man in Aqqaba who refused to give his name, the first"'"
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'This act has noreligion'(archives) Photo:Panet website 
. , .  A week after the crime, Aqqaba mayor Jamal Abu Ara, who is amember of the victim's extended family, and his brothers sat intheir village home, smoking cigarettes and choosing their wordscarefully. "This act has no religion - it comes from closed, tribal thinking leftover from an age of ignorance. People here are walking around ina haze; they want to know who did it and why. Of course, it's thefirst time it's happened here," he said. His brother added: "Islam requires you have four witnesses toprove the act of adultery. "It's not right what happened. Especially since if it were a man,some would just say 'boys will be boys'," he said.  A representative of the slain woman's family declined to speak toReuters. "Honor killing" is a social menace that occurs throughout theMiddle East, though precise figures are often elusive. In neighboring
Jordan
, for example, a Cambridge Universitysurvey of attitudes among young people published in June foundthat a third of respondents agreed with the practice. The researchers attributed the result to low levels of educationand "patriarchal and traditional world views, emphasis placed onfemale virtue and a more general belief that violence againstothers is morally justified." The study estimated an average of 15 to 20 such killings occur every year in Jordan, with a population of around 6.3 million,compared to around 4 million in Palestinian lands. 
Patriarchy
Some activists believe the rise in honor killings indicates socialand economic problems are mounting in the territories, wherePalestinians exercise limited self-rule but
Israel
 holds ultimatesovereignty, including over commerce. But Soraida Hussein, whose rights group Muntada tallied thisyear's killings, said the practice also has deep roots. "There is no balance in power relations between the genders.There is a patriarchal mentality...as always, the force andpressure in society is transferred from the strong to the weak,"she said. Palestinian female participation in the labor force stands at 17percent, a figure the World Bank called "abysmally low," notingthat employers appeared to favour men, among whom joblessness was almost a third lower in 2013. Hussein said that most of the killings related to "the movementand the freedom of the woman, so (perpetrators) say it's an'honor killing '... also, there's still no clear law to discourage thepractice."
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 Many of the cases had economic underpinnings, such asconnections to disputes over inheritance, or may have beencommitted to cover up incest, she added. The passing of stricter laws on violence against women ishamstrung by the absence of a Palestinian parliament, which hasnot met since President
Mahmoud Abbas
 's
Fatah
 party and theIslamist
Hamas
 group fought a brief, bloody civil war in 2007.  Abbas has used his executive power to amend or cancel parts of the penal law, but has not yet changed all legislation whichapplies a separate status to domestic violence and has beenused to justify killings and lighten prison sentences. Palestinian Minister of Women's Affairs Rabiha Diab saved muchof her blame for violence toward women for Israel: "The Israelioccupation is the one practicing the utmost violence ... it's themain thing keeping us from advancing. "There's been a deterioration, financial and psychologicalpressure on our society, poverty. But there are also certainbackward cultural legacies that must be combated," she said. Unemployment and poverty both increased in 2013, with bothstanding at around 25 percent. Growth has slowed from boomrates averaging around 9 percent annually in 2008-2011 to just1.8 percent in Gaza and the occupied West Bank in the first half of 2013, according to the World Bank. 
Banished
Not just laws but lawmakers may be part of the problem. Residents of the northern West Bank village of Deir al-Ghusunbegan muttering about Thamar Zeidan, a 32-year-old mother of two, after an apparently intoxicated man was spied leaving her home one morning, a local source told Reuters. Elders, including a Hamas member of parliament, soon gatheredand signed an announcement formally banishing her family fromthe larger tribe. The notice was pasted on the outer walls of homes and on the village mosque. Days later in late September, Thamar was choked to death with ametal wire in her sleep.Her father confessed to the deed. The lawmaker, Abdel Rahman Zeidan, denied charges in thePalestinian media that the petition was tantamount to incitingmurder, and said the banishment targeted the father, whomvillagers say allowed his children too many freedoms. "Taking the law into your own hands is wrong," he told Reuters."These acts are unacceptable, and laws must be passed todiscourage them." Spreading awareness on the issue can open campaigners and journalists to criticism and even threats, which may partly explainits scant airing in public, however.
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