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UN decries rising violence against Palestinian women

May 16, 2014 4:25 P.M. (Updated: June 24, 2014 1:56 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The UN organization for women on Friday decried rising rates of violence against women in the occupied Palestinian territories after a woman was slain this week, raising the year's total so far to 14.

UN Women in Palestine said in a statement that they were "seriously concerned" about the killing, highlighting that the "worrying increase in the rate of femicide, from 13 in 2012 to 28 in 2013, demonstrates a widespread sense of impunity in killing women."

Femicide usually refers to violence perpetrated by partners or relatives of a woman, encompassing primarily lethal forms of domestic violence.

"The Palestinian Government has demonstrated a political will to end violence against women through the adoption of a zero-tolerance policy on violence against women," the statement said, but it urged that this "political will must be translated into urgent concrete action."

The statement noted that Palestine has endorsed the National Strategy to Combat Violence against Women 2011-2019 and has ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, but it urged the government to implement the existing Serious Case Review mechanism that is currently coordinated by the Ministry of Women's Affairs and ensure a thorough investigation in order to protect women and end "impunity for the perpetrators of violence."

A 2012 survey by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics said that 37 percent of Palestinian women were subject to some form of violence at the hands of their husbands, with the highest rate in Gaza at 58.1 percent and the lowest in Ramallah, at 14.1 percent.

Rates of violence in Gaza have risen rapidly in recent years, propelled by unemployment rates hovering around 40 percent as a result of the Israeli economic blockade, as well as increasing rates of psychological trauma as a result of frequent Israeli bombardments.

The numbers for Palestine as a whole are slightly higher than a 2013 WHO estimate that 1 out of every 3 women worldwide experiences violence at the hand of her husband at some point in her life.
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