GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The Gaza-based Hayat Center for Empowering Women and Families is serving increasing numbers of victims of domestic abuse in the coastal territory, according to center coordinator Tahani Qasim.
One victim of domestic violence told Ma'an she turned to the center for help when her husband of three years continued to beat her regularly for no reason. The center assisted her in making child visitation arrangements following her decision to divorce.
The woman, who asked to be identified as Mariam, says the main reason behind the collapse of her marriage was her husband’s addiction to Tramadol pills -- painkillers often used in Gaza as narcotics -- and his inability to provide for his family.
Women in Gaza often face "double punishment, from both society and her family" as a result of demanding divorce from abusive husbands, explains Qasim.
The center, she says, has managed to work out solutions or reconciliation agreements for 20 percent of incoming cases, without the need for courts.
Qasim told Ma'an that cases of violence against women are often worsened by the lack of security and stability in Gaza, and that the center often receives more women experiencing domestic violence during times of economic hardship, for example during and following wars with Israel.
According to the center's social worker Linda Abu Marsa, the center received complaints from 56 women in 2014. In addition, the center offers consulting services to more than 20 women every day.