Thursday, November 28, 2019

  • Thursday, November 28, 2019
  • Elder of Ziyon
UNRWA has a campaign against gender based violence. That's the good news.

The bad news is that it still wants to blame Israel for Gaza men beating and sexually abusing their wives.

UNRWA issued a report about women in Gaza, and the section on domestic abuse is filled with justifications because of "occupation."

Violence against women is high in Gaza, and linked to external political and economic factors. The most recent PCBS study on violence found that 51 per cent of women ever married had been exposed to at least one form of violence by their husbands, matching other more recent studies that found over half (58 percent) of women have experienced domestic violence and a quarter (25 per cent) sexual harassment. Another indicator of violence against women is early marriage, or marriage under the age of 18: while there has been a decline in the proportion of early marriages, the number is still high at 21 per cent of all females’ registered marriages. Some estimates are higher, stating that 40 per cent of women aged 20-24 were married and 20 per cent had given birth to a child before the age of 18. Finally polygyny (the practice of a man taking more than one wife) is cited as an indicator of violence against women, since women in polygynous households are typically at greater risk of different forms of abuse: 6 per cent of women in Gaza are in polygynous marriages and popular media reports indicate the rate is rising in line with religious conservatism.

A range of studies have explored the correlation between political and gender-based violence in Gaza. Research in 2017 looked at surges in violence against women and girls during times of direct military operations and found significant positive correlation: during the 2014 hostilities there was a reported 22 per cent rise in domestic violence experienced by married women, and a 30 per cent increase for non-married women. The research also found the displacement caused by military operations increase the likelihood of experiencing domestic violence.
So when Israel warns people to move out of a house that is being bombed for hiding weapons, husbands are more likely to beat their wives and kids. By pointing this out, UNRWA is taking away responsibility for violence from the wife beaters to Israel. They are saying that Palestinian men are inherently violent and misogynist, no more in control of their emotions than donkeys.

Isn't that racist?
At a more local level, connections between poverty and unemployment and violence against women in Gaza are frequently articulated. The economic crisis has left many men unable to fulfil their traditional role as breadwinner, leading to stress, anxiety and addiction. Women can be left to bear the brunt of men’s frustrations in the home and community; and as they move more into the workforce to make up the household income shortfall, they risk further inflaming tensions by threatening traditional male identities. In this way it has been asserted that in Gaza, “structural violence initiated and perpetuated by militarism enhances violence in all its forms.
Finally, UNRWA admits that not everyone shares their desire to blame everything on Israel.
At the same time, such claims have been rejected as inappropriate ‘cover’ for unjust treatment of women, whether by individual perpetrators of gender-based violence or by a state that fails to provide adequate legal protection for women. As the United Nations Human Rights Commissioner articulated, “the occupation does not exonerate the State of Palestine from its due human rights obligation to prevent, investigate, punish and provide remedies for acts of gender-based violence”.
UNRWA doesn't say it rejects those claims, just that some other people do.

What about fundamentalist Islam's role in treating women as second class citizens? In the entire 46 page report, it is only touched upon once, and still only in context of the "occupation" of Gaza that doesn't exist.

Additionally Gaza’s political context, in particular the form of political Islam associated with the ruling party Hamas, has a relationship with attitudes towards women. Some regard social conservatism, and in particularly patriarchy as a structure for power and control, as having achieved greater political legitimacy in the current political era where it can be justified as a response to the occupation. 

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