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The WCLAC Bulletin - October 2016

WCLAC’s grassroots partner succeed in reaching remote conservative areas: part of WCLAC’s work is supporting grassroots organizations and build their organizational and staff capacity to provide services to women and promote women’s rights in their cities and governorates. WCLAC is currently a partner with grassroots in Tubas, Tulkarem and Jericho. In Jericho WCLAC is supporting the Jericho Women Charitable Society (JWCS) which has succeeded in reaching remote areas despite the opposition they face in the rural areas of Jericho. In October, the tribal leaders from AlAtyat tribe approached JWCS when they heard of their active role in women and children matters, and asked about the services they offer. The tribal leaders expressed their high interest in having JWCS conduct awareness-raising sessions with the women of their community. JWCS welcomed this request and immediately worked on organizing awareness-raising sessions in the venue that the tribal leaders have provided. So far JWCS has delivered 8 awareness-raising sessions for women from AlAtyat tribe and provided women with after-session counseling and long-term social counselling.

WCLAC forms partnership with two local organizations in East Jerusalem: As part of the Wujood project that works on strengthening the resilience of vulnerable communities in East Jerusalem WCLAC has formed partnership with two local organizations in order to hold awareness-raising meetings for women in vulnerable communities in East Jerusalem.  Up till October, WCLAC has held more than 6 awareness-raising meetings for women on different topics including; women’s rights stipulated by law, early marriage and its disadvantages, violence against women and the penal code. Women attending these meetings have expressed how important these meetings are both to gain knowledge on things that they had no idea of and as ventilation of their frustration.

Figures and trends on crimes committed against Palestinian women - The Palestinian Public Prosecutor’s office issued a statement on Monday 24 October 2016 with statistics highlighting trends in crimes committed in the Palestinian territories over the past three years. The report showed a decrease in the number of femicided cases reported from 11 cases in 2013, to 14 cases in 2014 to 6 cases in 2016. While this is perceived to be a positive development, the numbers should be read with caution as some femicide cases are concealed as either suicide or ordinary crimes. The report also mentioned that 21 cases of rape were reported in 2013, 13 cases in 2014 and 17 cases in 2015. Read more

Serious challenge to the ICC by African countries - The claim that the international criminal court unfairly targets Africans is gaining significant traction after the Gambia became the third country on the continent to announce its withdrawal from the Hague-based tribunal. The move follows similar announcements from Burundi and South Africa, who informed the UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, of their decision to quit the court last week, making them the first countries to begin the year-long exit process in the court’s 18-year history. Of the 10 cases being investigated by the court, nine involve African countries, including all three trials. So far, ICC arrest warrants have only ever been issued for Africans. Palestine joined the ICC in January 2015 and the Prosecutor is currently undertaking a preliminary examination. Read more.

End-of-mission statement by the SRVAW – Ms. Dubravka Šimonović, the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences (SRVAW), issued a statement following her visit to Israel and to the Occupied Palestinian Territory/ State of Palestine from 12 to 22 September 2016. In her statement, the SRVAW highlighted the effect of occupation and ongoing conflict on violence against women in the region but stressed on the fact that occupation does not exonerate the State of Palestine from its due diligence obligations to prevent, investigate, punish and provide remedies from acts of gender-based violence under the areas and persons under its jurisdiction.  “Traditional and patriarchal norms still prevail in society and some outdated domestic legal frameworks are still in place.” said the SR in her statement. The statement also highlighted the plight of women from East Jerusalem and from Gaza and welcomed the accession of the State of Palestine to some of the key human rights instruments including CEDAW. She also called for a renewal of a peace process in which women would fully participate and even take the lead. Read more

International Day of the Girl Child - There are 1.1 billion girls today, a powerful constituency for shaping a sustainable world that’s better for everyone. They are brimming with talent and creativity. But their dreams and potential are often thwarted by discrimination, violence and lack of equal opportunities. There are glaring gaps in data and knowledge about the specific needs and challenges that girls face. What gets counted gets done. The theme for this year’s International Day of the Girl Child, on 11 October, “Girls’ Progress = Goals’ Progress: A Global Girl Data Movement”, is a call for action for increased investment in collecting and analyzing girl-focused, girl-relevant and sex-disaggregated data. One year into the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, improving data on girls and addressing the issues that are holding them back is critical for fulfilling the Sustainable Development Goals. One such issue that is standing in the way of girls’ progress is child, early and forced marriage. The data is daunting—one in three girls in developing countries (except China) get married before they turn 18. Girls who are child brides miss out on education, are more vulnerable to physical and sexual violence, and bear children before they are physically or emotionally prepared. The cycle of violence that begins in girlhood, carries over into womanhood and across generations. The 2030 Agenda must address their needs and unlock their potential. Read more

Jerusalem: A City Ripped Apart – Jerusalem has been a subject of claim and counterclaim for millennia. How these claims are interpreted depends on a person’s political, religious and national viewpoints and affiliations. This can make any discussion of the city seem, to the casual observer, as complex, confusing and highly controversial - a subject perhaps best avoided altogether. Thankfully, there is a set of universally accepted guiding principles that can provide a framework for the discussion. Chief among these is the principle that sovereignty over territory does not change hands as a result of conflict. For nearly 50 years, Palestinian women have been a living testament to what can happen when these principles are abandoned. On 2 October 2016, Israel police raid the house of 51 year old woman from the Old City in Jerusalem at 1:45 a.m. and detain her for a few hours and later hand her an exclusion order banning her from entering the Mosque. Read more.

Women’s Voices - On 6 October 2016, about 21 Israeli soldiers storm into the house of 42 year old woman from El Far’a camp at 3:30 a.m., detain her and her son and later dump her in a deserted area. “On 6 October 2016, at around 3:30 a.m., I heard loud banging at the front door. I quickly got up and ran to open the door but before I reached it soldiers kicked the door in and stormed into the house. My son Thaer (22) told me one of his friends had called him earlier and told him soldiers were surrounding our house. About 21 soldiers entered the house; among them were six female soldiers, in full military gear. The minute the soldiers entered the house they started to yell at Thaer and then three soldiers held him against the wall and started to hit and beat him on the face using the back of their guns and their fists. Meanwhile the commander asked me to sit in the living room and prevented me from making any movement.”  Read more.

“surprise beyond words” Gaza Couple’s Celebration Goes Viral: A Gaza couple’s unusual celebration of their marriage anniversary has gone viral. Captured on video, Samah, a poet, surprised her husband Mahmoud by featuring a photo from his professional collection along words from her poetry on a billboard in Gaza City. The couple married five years ago. They first met at a photography workshop organized by Mahmoud who has been a landscape photographer for eight years, he told Palestine Square. However, both Samah and Mahmoud were familiar with each other’s works ahead of meeting. “I would use some of her poetry to highlight my photographs,” he recalled. It wasn’t long before he proposed after they met at his workshop. Reactions to the video have been “overwhelmingly supportive and positive,” dwarfing few detractors. “It’s like people were thirsty for something,” Mahmoud described the reaction. “It wasn’t about Samah and myself. It became a public celebration of love and commitment,” he added. Read more.

Grim reality for women and children in Gaza - Trauma affects 30% of Gaza’s women and children, but it is hard for these kids to express themselves. “Through playing and drawing, we can break down the barriers and evaluate the main problems they are suffering and find the right treatment.” says Rania Sousi, a psychologist from Gaza. Anger issues and poor grades are common. For young adults limited career options make it even worse. Studies show that 94 – 95 percent of the population demonstrate signs of what is called mental health fatigue. Watch the video.

Palestinian Women’s Coalition of UNSCR 1325 deeply disappointed with ICC - In a statement released on 11 October 2016, The Palestinian Women’s Coalition of UNSCR 1325 expressed deep disappointment with the delegation of the ICC Prosecutor’s Office which visited Palestine recently for limiting the purpose of their visit to conducting a preliminary investigation. The statement highlighted the fact that Palestinian victims of Israeli war crimes, including women, continue to suffer and urgently await justice and an end to impunity. “We, the Palestinian Women Coalition of UNSCR 1325, have seen in UNSCR 1325, 2242, and other UN Resolutions a commitment to hold the Israeli perpetrators accountable for their war crimes. We look to the ICC as the most important mechanism to end impunity for all war crimes committed and finally bringing justice for the Palestinian people. Yet, we are very concerned that the preliminary examinations will be an endless process.” The statement said. “Delaying justice is justice denied” the statement concluded.