Thursday, March 10, 2011

Palestinian Women's Rights Remain Under Siege

On the 100th Anniversary of International Women's Day Palestinian Women's Rights Remain Under Siege:

"Alhaqhr on Mar 8, 2011

Tuesday 8 March marks the 100th Anniversary of International Women's Day. Women across the world will be mobilising and marching in celebration and protest, championing their freedom of expression and campaigning for further change. Al-Haq takes this opportunity to remind the rest of the world that in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) the struggle for the fundamental human rights of Palestinian women is held hostage to a belligerent and unrelenting occupation.
In commemoration of International Women's Day, the United Nations theme this year is 'Equal access to education, training and science and technology: Pathway to decent work for women.' Throughout the OPT, women's access to educational institutions, places of employment and healthcare clinics is severely impeded by restrictions on Palestinians' right to freedom of movement. While the repressive and discriminatory policies exercised by Israel against the free movement of Palestinians have had a devastating effect on the entire population, the disproportionate impact on Palestinian women, who are denied the most basic economic and social rights guaranteed to them by international law, cannot be overstated.

The Annexation Wall, which appropriates lands, disconnects communities, and restricts access to medical care, schools, and workplaces, is only one of numerous pernicious policies that violate Palestinians' right to freedom of movement. Travel time and costs are greatly multiplied by the Wall, its associated permit regime and over 500 other obstacles to free movement in the OPT, including checkpoints and road blocks. The restrictions imposed by Israel have a gender specific impact and present particular risks for, amongst others, expectant mothers, female students and workers, resulting in the denial of their right to health, education, decent work and an adequate standard of living. The socio-economic instability that these violations have wrought in the OPT - perhaps most notable in the Gaza Strip where severe deprivation is aggravated by the continuing policy of closure - coupled with the loss of many male members of Palestinian society to Israeli detention or violence, has contributed to the stresses of family life and created conditions rife for domestic violence.

Palestinian women are also disproportionately affected by Israeli policies and laws which, through a complex system of permits and administrative bureaucracy, prevent Palestinians with different residency from living together as a family. Palestinians with West Bank identification cards are prevented from residing with their family in occupied East Jerusalem, while Palestinians from the Gaza Strip are prohibited from joining a spouse in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. In addition, arbitrary nationality laws deny Palestinian family members with a foreign passport entry at Israeli-controlled borders. Israel's denial of family reunification places on many women the burden of raising children in the absence of a father, with the consequent negative economic and financial impact that this brings.

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