Palestinian women cautiously welcome new rights

Palestinian women watch the football match between Al-Nuseirat and Al-Jalaa standing outside the fence of the stadium at Nuseirat refugee camp, south of Gaza City, on January 28, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 06 March 2018
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Palestinian women cautiously welcome new rights

AMMAN: Palestinian activists and human rights organizations welcomed on Monday measures by the government to give more rights to women.
The changes include the right of Palestinian women to pass on their citizenship to their children and to open bank accounts in their names.
The Cabinet also recommended to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas a series of legal amendments that include canceling or amending laws that allow rapists to avoid punishment by marrying their victims.
The decisions were announced following the Cabinet session on Monday.
The recommendations include the abolition of Article 308 of a Jordanian law still in effect in Palestine. The Jordanian Parliament abolished Article 308 (which pardons rapists who marry their victim) last August. The Palestinian government also recommended changes to the 1960 penal code, which allowed for lower punishment for acts of violence carried out in so-called “honor crimes.”
Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said in a televised message that these changes “honor Palestinian women and that they are their rights and not a gift to them.” He vowed that more decisions advancing equality between women and men were planned.
The Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights issued a statement welcoming the decisions, which comes ahead of Women’s Day on Thursday.
“More is needed to attain total equality and to be in total adherence with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), adopted in 1979 by the UN General Assembly,” the commission said.
Salwa Hdaib, a member of the Fatah revolutionary council, told Arab News that Palestinian women’s goals for more equality were now much higher after recent changes to the law in other Arab countries such as Tunisia and Morocco.
“We deserve to have a much better legal system which truly equates the rights of men and women in political rights, in jobs and social justice,” she said.
Hdaib, who heads the Jerusalem Women's Movement, said that Palestinian women were still behind in divorce rights, inheritance and equal treatment in the courts.
“Palestinian women in general and women in Jerusalem have paid a huge price in the Palestinian struggle and they deserve nothing less than total equal rights and protection from their government and leaders.”
Lama Hourani, an activist in Ramallah and a community organizer, told Arab News that while she welcomed all improvements, she would wait and see what was in the amended laws that President Abbas will sign.
Hourani said that the personal status law, which covers issues including divorce, adoption and alimony, was in need of the most improvement. It includes laws that grant males twice the inheritance of a female.
“Until we reach total equality in our society we need to make major changes in the most important law in this regard, which is the personal status law. All other changes are nothing but cosmetic improvements.”
Hourani told Arab News that what was needed was to follow the signed international conventions that aimed to eliminate all forms of discrimination.


Key events in Egypt since the 2011 pro-democracy uprising

President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi. (Supplied)
Updated 37 min 30 sec ago
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Key events in Egypt since the 2011 pro-democracy uprising

CAIRO: Here are key events in eight years of turmoil and transition in Egypt, leading up to a national referendum on constitutional amendments that could allow President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi to remain in power until 2030.

● Feb. 11, 2011: Autocrat Hosni Mubarak steps down after 18 days of nationwide protests against his nearly 30-year rule. The military takes over, dissolving Parliament and suspending the constitution after the uprising leaves hundreds of protesters dead in clashes with security forces.

● Nov. 28, 2011-Feb. 15, 2012: The Muslim Brotherhood wins nearly half the seats in multi-stage elections for the first post-Mubarak Parliament.

● June 30, 2012: The Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate Muhammad Mursi takes office as Egypt’s first freely elected president.

● Aug. 12, 2012: Mursi removes the defense minister and military chief, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, and replaces him with El-Sisi.

● Nov. 22, 2012: Mursi unilaterally decrees greater powers for himself, a move that sparks days of protests.

● Dec. 15-22, 2012: Egyptians approve a constitution drafted and hastily passed by Parliament amid protests and walkouts by other groups.

● June 30, 2013: On Mursi’s anniversary in office, millions of Egyptians begin days of demonstrations demanding his resignation. The military gives him 48 hours to reach an agreement with his opponents, but he vows to remain in office.

● July 3, 2013: El-Sisi announces Mursi’s removal.

● Aug. 14, 2013: More than 600 people, mostly Mursi supporters, are killed when police clear two pro-Mursi sit-ins in Cairo. Mursi supporters retaliate by torching government buildings, churches and police stations. Hundreds more die in subsequent violence.

● Dec. 25, 2013: The government designates the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization.

● May 26-28, 2014: Egyptians vote in a presidential election. El-Sisi wins with 96.9 percent of the vote.

● May 16, 2015: Mursi and more than 100 others are sentenced
to death over a mass prison break during the 2011 uprising.

● Oct. 2015: Egypt holds parliamentary elections, leading to an assembly packed with El-Sisi supporters.

● April 2, 2018: El-Sisi wins a second, four-year term in office, with more than 97 percent of the vote.
● Feb. 2019: Lawmakers submit proposed amendments to the constitution that allow El-Sisi to remain in power beyond
his current second four-year term.

● April 10: President Donald Trump welcomes El-Sisi to the White House for a second official visit.

● April 17: The Parliament, packed with El-Sisi’s supporters, overwhelmingly passes the proposed amendments.

● April 18: Egypt’s National Election Authority schedules three days of voting in a nationwide referendum on the amendments. The vote takes place Saturday through Monday.