Thursday, August 02, 2012

Palestinian Women Protest Police After Man Murders Wife Seeking Divorce

Domestic violence is as prevalent in the Arab/Muslim world as it is in the West. For all their religious piousness- praying and bowing to mecca 5 times a day, fasting for a month during Ramadan - they can be just as brutal and violent, if not more so. They, of course, are in total denial about the whole issue. No, according to them Muslim men cherish their women, are tasked with taking care of them. However, actions speak louder than words. I remember having heated debates with my mostly Asian and Middle Eastern readers when I blogged over at Instablogs- they vehemently denied there was a problem with rape and domestic violence in their culture. News reports, however, prove the opposite. Their world is full of honor-based violence and killings, and just plain old domestic abuse, but women are finally bringing the problem to the light.

After ten years of abuse, a mother of three- 27-year-old West Bank Palestinian Nancy Zaboun- finally asked her husband for a divorce.  But after the divorce hearing, 32-year-old Shadi Abedallah slit her throat in the middle of a packed Bethlehem market in broad daylight instead. He had started beating her soon after their marriage, when she was 17- which, of course is allowed in Islam- but not much of anything was done for all those years, in spite of the fact that she on several occasions was hospitalized for her injuries.
In response to the murder, Palestinian women took to the streets in protest, demanding more from police and the courts.

On Wednesday, several dozen brave women staged a memorial for Zaboun in the Bethlehem market alley where she was killed, holding signs and chanting, “No to violence against women.” One photographed sign read: “Shame on us Palestinians for killing our women.”

Women have scored a number of breakthroughs in traditional Palestinian society in recent years, including gaining a greater role in public life, but tribal laws still remain strong. Violence against women is generally viewed by police as an internal family matter, so even if a woman is able to call for help, the police are of limited value.

Though Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas signed a decree last year that ended a long-standing practice of treating killings within a family with leniency, Al-Azraq said violence against women appears to be on the rise. In her opinion, the deteriorating Palestinian economy and the fact that abusers don’t fear punishment is likely the cause.

Unfortunately, some police in the West have that same mentality, that it's a family affair. Well, it's not. We need tougher laws for domestic violence and abuse, wherever it occurs.

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