Palestinian women demand legal protection after suspected ‘honor killing’

Palestinian women hold a banner that reads, "Palestinian Woman's General Union, we need a law to protect us and to protect the Palestinian family," during a rally in front of the Prime Minister's office, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Monday, Sept. 2. 2019. (AP)
Updated 05 September 2019

Palestinian women demand legal protection after suspected ‘honor killing’

  • 21-year-old dies after alleged beating by kinsmen
  • Palestinian Authority legal code under scrutiny

RAMALLAH: Hundreds of Palestinians demonstrated in the West Bank on Wednesday to demand legal protection for women after a 21-year-old woman died last month in what rights groups say was a so-called honor killing.
A Palestinian Authority investigation is underway into the death of Isra’a Ghrayeb, a make-up artist who activists say was beaten by male relatives after a video posted on Instagram allegedly showed a meeting between her and a man who had proposed to her.
According to Palestinian media reports, Ghrayeb sustained serious spinal injuries after falling from a balcony in her home in Beit Sahour, near Bethlehem, while trying to escape an assault by her brothers. She died on Aug. 22.
At least 18 Palestinian women have been killed this year by family members angered at perceived damage to their honor, which may involve fraternizing with men or any infringement of conservative values regarding women, according to the General Union of Palestinian Women and Feminist Institutions.
Ghrayeb’s family has denied the accusations. They said in a statement that Ghrayeb had a “mental condition” and died “after she had a heart attack, following an accidental fall into the (family’s) courtyard.”
The circumstances surrounding Ghrayeb’s death have stirred outrage within the Palestinian territories and on social media, with rights activists demanding action against the alleged perpetrators and legal protection for women under the hashtag #JustceforIsraa.
In the West Bank city of Ramallah, female demonstrators held signs reading: “We are all Isra’a” and “My body is my property. I don’t need your supervision, your care, your honor.”
“I’m here to say enough is enough. We’ve lost enough women. Enough victims have died, have been killed, have been tortured, raped, harassed, and still there’s no justice,” said Amal Khayat, 30, an activist from Jerusalem.
Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said this week that several people had been detained for questioning over Ghrayeb’s death as part of the inquiry by the Palestinian Authority (PA), which exercises limited self-rule in the Israel-occupied West Bank.
The Palestinian penal code dates to the 1960s and has been criticized for inadequate protection for women and lenient penalties for men who kill them in honor crimes.
“The case of Isra’a Ghrayeb shocked our conscience just like those before her. These are women and girls who dream to live in safety in a society free from violence and injustice,” the General Union of Palestinian Women and Feminist Institutions said in a statement.
The group called on the Palestinian government to “develop targeted programs that teach the principle of gender equality” and to reform laws to ensure accountability for perpetrators.
Protesters voiced optimism that Wednesday’s rally and others earlier this week would push the PA to make reforms. “The victims are a part of us, they’re a part of our history,” Khayat said. “We will continue (to protest) until we get justice.”


Iran’s top leader praises attack on US bases in Iraq

Updated 53 min 1 sec ago

Iran’s top leader praises attack on US bases in Iraq

  • Iran’s supreme leader delivered a Friday sermon in Tehran for the first time since 2012

DUBAI: Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a Friday prayers sermon that Iran’s missile strikes on US targets in Iraq showed it had divine support in delivering a “slap on the face” to a world power.

Making the main weekly sermon in Tehran for the first time since 2012, with Iran and its clerical rulers under pressure at home and abroad, Khamenei also said that US sanctions imposed in a row over its nuclear program would not make Iran yield.

Thousands had gathered inside a large prayer hall in central Tehran and packed the area and streets outside the building, chanting “Death to America.”

The sermon was delivered after Iran’s rulers faced days of often violent protests after the military admitted to mistakenly shooting down an airliner in the tense hours after the missile strikes, which were in turn launched in retaliation for the US killing on Jan. 3 of a top Iranian commander, close to Khamenei.

“The fact that Iran has the power to give such a slap to a world power shows the hand of God,” Khamenei, saying the US killing of Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force, showed Washington’s “terrorist nature.”

US President Donald Trump, who pulled Washington out of a nuclear deal with Iran in 2018 and ratcheted up tension by reimposing US sanctions, had ordered the drone strike that killed Soleimani, who built up proxy militias across the region.

After days of denying a role in the plane crash, the Revolutionary Guards, a parallel military force answering directly to Khamenei that acts as guardian of Islamic Republic, finally admitted on Jan. 11 that one of its air defense operators mistakenly shot down Ukraine Airlines International flight 752.

Vigils for the 176 victims swiftly turned into protests against Iran’s rulers. “Death to Khamenei” was chanted at protests and spray painted on walls of Tehran and other cities. Such public criticism can result in a jail term in Iran.

Khamenei described the crash as a tragedy and a very sad incident that was used by Iran’s “enemies,” used to describe the United States and its allies, to overshadow the killing of Soleimani, whose funeral drew huge crowds onto the streets.

In the demonstrations after the downing of the airliner, police launched a sometimes crackdown and deployed riot police outside universities, where many students had protested.