West Bank Sexual Assaults Silenced



By: ELAD BENARI  
Published: July 21st 2010
in News » World

Illustration
Pic: Fotolia

The status of women is a complex issue among the Palestinians. A survey conducted by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics in more than 4,000 Palestinian households in December 2005 and January 2006 and whose results were published in Haaretz, found that 23 percent of women said they had experienced domestic violence, yet just over 1 percent filed a complaint. A report published around the same time by New York-based Human Rights Watch cited practices such as rape victims being forced to marry assailants and light sentences for men who kill female relatives suspected of adultery. The report was based on interviews that were conducted with victims, and added that the problem is getting worse due to increasing poverty in the West Bank. Other reasons cited in the report for such incidents are discriminatory laws, traditional practices and a severe shortage of emergency shelters.

 

Marriages of girls who are minors to older men is also a phenomenon in Palestinian territories, as an article published on Shalom Lifein February of this year indicated. According to statistics released by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, 682 girls aged 14 and younger were legally married in 2000. Child marriages of girls 14 and younger made up 2.9 per cent of the total number of registered marriages that year. That same year, 13,163 Palestinian girls between 15 and 19 were legally married.

 

The attempted rape by Aladdin is not the first incident involving sexual harassment in the West Bank. Ezra Nawi, an Israeli human rights activist, was arrested in 2007 after he tried to stop the demolition of a Palestinian home in Havat Maon, an outpost on Mount Hebron, and was subsequently convicted of participating in a riot and assaulting a police officer. During his court hearing Nawi admitted that he pulled down his pants and exposed his behind to the security officer of Havat Maon. During the course of the trial it was also revealed that Nawi is a convicted pedophile, having been convicted of sexually assaulting a Palestinian boy.

 

The Nawi incident attracted the attention of many prominent international figures who called for his release. Among those who defended Nawi was Canadian author Naomi Klein who claimed that he was unjustly arrested and that he is a “brave” man acting to defend human rights. Yehudit Karp, former Deputy to the Attorney General of Israel, also defended Nawi and called on the court not to send him to prison since he is a “redeemer and saviour” of the Palestinian people.

 

Another recent incident with sexual motifs took place last April in Otniel, an Orthodox village located south of Hebron. During the incident, a group of left wing activists (led by none other than Nawi), entered the village and marched through it during Shabbat. When asked by the security officer of Otniel to leave, one of the activists, Yasmin Wagner, removed her shirt and bared her chest. She then accused soldiers who were called to the scene of wanting to rape her “just like you do to all the female soldiers”. She was subsequently arrested by police.

Related articles: (sexual assault, west bank, palestinian authority, ezra nawi, ISM, rape)
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