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PA law “murders women twice”
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PA law "murders women twice"
 
Palestinian women's rights group outraged that rapists
and murderers of women receive reduced sentences
 
Women's rights activist:
"In 95% of the murders of women in Palestine, the [victim's] personal right is waived"
 
"Many of the murders in Palestine that were perpetrated due to inheritance or political arguments are altered to cases of 'honor' in order to reduce the punishment"
  
By Itamar Marcus and Yocheved T. Kolchin
 
Palestinian women's rights groups are demanding the revocation of an article of Palestinian Authority law that they say allows criminals to get away with murder. According to Article 99 of Penal Law No. 16 of 1960, the family of a murder victim is permitted to "waive its personal right" to justice and forgive the crime. In such cases, the length and severity of punishment is significantly reduced.
 
However, given that the vast majority of violence against Palestinian women is domestic, the family of the murder victim is often the family of the murderer as well. Thus, the Palestinian Director of the Women's Courts Project in the TAM organization Victoria Shukri explained, "In 95% of the murders of women in Palestine, the [victim's] personal right is waived."
 
Shukri is organizing a petition to Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah demanding that he revoke Article 99. Shukri gave an example of how the law is misused:
"A man who murdered his wife in one of the Palestinian cities is released after two and a half years? Why? Because his [the murderers] family waived the [wife's] personal right after he was sentenced to 15 years."
[Ma'an, independent Palestinian news agency, March 7, 2017]
  
Furthermore, the excuse of "honor" killing is often abused in order to gain clemency from the family. As Shukri explained:
"Many of the murders in Palestine that were perpetrated due to inheritance or political arguments are altered to cases of 'honor' in order to reduce the punishment."
 
Ma'an further cited a case from last October in which a PA court in Ramallah sentenced a rapist to only a year and a half of manual labor. According to Law clause 296 of [Palestinian] Penal Law No. 16 of 1960, a rapist should receive a minimum of four years imprisonment at hard labor. The Ramallah court only sentenced him to three years, and when the family of the rape victim decided to waive its personal right, his sentence was reduced by half. Furthermore, the court deducted the time he had already spent in detention awaiting trial from his punishment. In total, the rapist will serve only one year of punishment.
 
Palestinian Media Watch reported on upsurges in Palestinian "honor killings" in 2012 and 2014. According to the official PA daily, 53% of Palestinian women have suffered from violence. In 45.9% of the cases, the violence was perpetrated by the victim's father, while in 25.5% of the cases it was perpetrated by her brother.  [Official PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Nov. 28, 2014]. 

Yusuf Jabareen, an Israeli Arab lecturer, acknowledged on PA TV:

 

"Part of our identity is to kill women, to beat women... Part of our identity is to attack women - we must acknowledge it. Every society has its defects and its charms. Palestinian identity has its charms, but there are things that we have adopted from Arab culture for centuries, which harm the individual and the woman. For example, in recent months, look how many women were murdered in Lod, in Ramle, and in Acre, and so on. That's part of our identity."
[PA TV (Fatah), June 24, 2012]
 
In 2015, Abbas amended PA law to make the punishment for honor killings identical to that of murder. However, proponents of Palestinian women's rights say that more needs to be done to afford women security from male violence.

Click here to learn more about
women's status in Palestinian society.
 
The following is a longer excerpt of the article in Ma'an describing how Article 99 enables the miscarriage of justice:
Headline: "Article 99 murders women twice"
"The [PA] Ramallah court on Oct. 19 [2016] convicted a man from Tulkarem of rape, in contradiction of the directives of clause 296 of [Palestinian] Penal Law No. 16 of 1960, and sentenced him to manual labor for three years. However, in light of 'the waiver of personal right' (i.e., a legal device by which the victim or the victim's family can waive the victim's rights), it was decided to reduce his sentence to a year and a half, from which the half year he had spent in detention until his trial was deducted. This is according to a press statement issued by the public prosecutor's office.
On the same subject, institutions involved in women's rights, led by Women Media and Development TAM, are preparing to submit a petition to [PA] Prime Minister [Rami Hamdallah] demanding that he revoke and suspend the use of Article 99 of Penal Law No. 16 of 1960 in cases of murder of women, which provides mitigating circumstances to crimes of murder and allows the use of 'the waiver of personal right' as one of the reasons for reducing the punishment, which is reduced up to half, and in this way the criminal is sentenced to [only] a few years, after which he goes free after he committed a terrible crime against his sister, mother, wife, or daughter.
Director of the Women's Courts Project in the TAM organization Victoria Shukri said to [Palestinian news agency] Ma'an that... 'A man who murdered his wife in one of the Palestinian cities is released after two and a half years? Why? Because his [the murderers] family waived the [wife's] personal right after he was sentenced to 15 years.' This is a living example presented by Shukri, who even added: 'The statistics show that in 95% of the murders of women in Palestine the personal right is waived.'
...
Shukri said that many of the murders in Palestine that were perpetrated due to inheritance or political arguments are altered to cases of 'honor' in order to reduce the punishment and [apply] 'the waiver of personal right.'"
[Ma'an, independent Palestinian news agency, March 7, 2017]