June 23, 2020

London - On May 11, 2020, the Palestinian Council of Ministers has approved the Family Protection Bill against violence by first reading. This law is the culmination of the efforts made by Palestinian civil society organizations since the beginning of its establishment. Many pressure acts and advocacy campaigns have been organized to demand the adoption of this law in order to end the phenomenon of violence against women, especially in the light of the worsening in recent years, where statistics indicate the killing of (113) women in the last five years. According to the follow-up efforts by the international platform, the first half of this year 2020 marked the killing of 15 Palestinian women, including eight women in the West Bank and seven women in Gaza Strip. In this regard statistics show that 20 females were killed in 2019, 28 females in 2018, and 18 females in 2017. In addition to hundreds of violent cases annually that are difficult to reach and detect as a result of the community and legislative system that does not provide any protection for violent women.  

The international platform considers the first-reading adoption of the Family Protection From Violence Act is one of Palestinian civil society organizations gains which came as a result of advocacy efforts and pressure from women's institutions that provide counselling and protection services to abused women that have consistently called for the adoption of this law and an end to violence against women. The idea of working on this bill started at the beginning of 2005 as an initiative from the Women's Center for Legal and Social Guidance, when most civil society organizations, later on, have adopted the idea of the bill as a major demand to face the violence against women.

In 2008, a national conference was held in cooperation between civil society institutions and the Ministry of Women's Affairs, and a draft of the bill on the protection of the family from violence was announced and submitted to the public for discussion and enrichment. It is striking that since that year civil society organizations have continued to demand in issuing this law, and as a result of this demand the National Committee against women violence, consisting of the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Ministry of Women's Affairs, have adopted the Family Protection From Violence law project. In 2012, the committee placed it to the council of ministries with the aim of including it in the government's legislative plan. In 2016, the Council of Ministers finalized a draft of the Protection of Family from Violence law project, until to the endorsement of first reading in 2020.

As a result, civil society organizations, particularly women's organizations, have won the adoption of the project of the Family Protection Against Violence Act, which will reduce the rate of violence against women and protect them from all forms of domestic violence. The international platform emphasizes that the demand of civil society organizations to adopt this law and the efforts made in this context are not a matter of luxury, but rather in response to the urgent need of the Palestinian people for such a law. This law will provide protection for crimes of domestic violence and qualify them with programs that help integrate them with their families within society, ensure that perpetrators do not escape from punishment, seek to reduce the practices of domestic violence through preventive programs and measures, and work to establish a new culture and behavior based on affection and compassion in family relations.

The prevailing community culture on women's issues and violence has been a major obstacle to the efforts of civil society organizations to assist victims of domestic violence, which has often frustrated the interventions and responses of organizations. therefore, reducing the phenomenon of domestic violence requires the provision of an appropriate legal framework through the adoption of a special law aimed at protecting the Palestinian family from domestic violence.

The international platform illustrates that the comprehensiveness of the resolution on the Law of the Protection of the Family from Violence helps civil society organizations respond to the protection of women from violence that is being perpetrated against them more efficiently, since it is not only seen as a criminal aspect but has three main hubs. Firstly, the penal aspect of the punishment for those who engage in violence against women. Secondly, important part of the law is the preventive one, which relies mainly on awareness and education for all segments of society, both women and men. Finally, the psychological and therapeutic aspect of women affected by violence, and how the state shelters and contains them and provides the necessary psychological and health care for their treatment.

According to the importance of this law and its role in providing protection to women, the international platform calls on the Palestinian Government to expedite its adoption through the second and third reading, and to turn it to the President for immediate release. Additionally, to ensure that there is sufficient funding and political will to put the law into full implementation and eliminate discrimination against women. In highlighting the efforts of civil society organizations, particularly women's organizations that led to the adoption of this resolution, the international platform calls on all organizations to continue raising awareness and working to end violence against women, domestic violence, and develop monitoring, follow-up and accountability processes to enforce this law.