MIFTAH
Thursday, 28 October. 2021
 
Your Key to Palestine
The Palestinian Initiatives for The Promotoion of Global Dialogue and Democracy
 
 
 

Ramallah – On April 12, MIFTAH held a hearing session on the lack of access to protective services for battered women and women at risk in seam zones and marginalized areas and those exposed to violence attacks by Israeli occupation forces in the northern West Bank, namely in the Tubas, Jenin, Tulkarm and Qalqilia districts. MIFTAH hosted Deputy Minister for Social Development, Daoud Al Deek in the session, which was attended by several member institutions from the NGO forum for combatting VAW (violence against women).

The session provided data that pointed to these shortcomings regarding women’s access to protective services, especially those caught in a general cycle of violence due to Israeli measures and control over areas of the West Bank where Palestinian access is restricted, in addition to the increase in poverty among women, especially in marginalized areas and Area C particularly seam zones. This is compounded by the low percentage of women’s participation in the labor force, particularly in these areas, not to mention the social impediments due to stereotypes of women, the predominant patriarchal social system and the absence of laws and legislation that protect women. A number of procedures, regulations and plans formulated by the government were showcased in the session, which also pointed to the fact that there is still a funding gap between plans, financial ceilings and budgets allocated for plans and programs in relevant ministries, including the Ministry of Social Development. This is over and above the loss of foreign funding and assistance due to regional and international political developments.

On his part, Deek confirmed that his ministry’s priority response for battered women is carried out according to geographic considerations and based on the actual cases of violence. He said most of these cases are in the Hebron district, which means the ministry directs the bulk of its services to these areas. “In regards to violence, the ministry adopts a holistic policy approach within the multi-dimensional context of poverty including deprivation, fragility, participation, exclusion, education, social upbringing and access to services. Meanwhile, the ministry develops and trains its field workers to collect as much possible information and indicators on poor families and cases of violence.”

Regarding the 2013 National Referral System (Takamul), which falls under the responsibility of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Deek said: “This system needs revamping in line with the developments, increased needs and the expanding circle of violence in Palestine. The same applies to the protection center system of 2011, he said, which falls under the responsibility of the Ministry of Social Development. “It is also in need of review and development to be more in line with the social reality.”

Furthermore, Deek reiterated the Ministry of Social Development’s demand for the publication of CEDAW in the official gazette, adding that the ministry was also pushing for the ratification of the Family Protection Law.

He maintained that the Ministry’s budget does not comprise more than 4.9% of the general budget and 1.5% of the GNP, which points to the limitations on the ministry in providing services to its beneficiaries from all social sectors.

Recommendations

The session produced a number of recommendations, including: demanding the ratification of the Family Protection Law; making the necessary reforms to the legal system, procedures and policies on the protection of women from violence; raising social awareness on issues linked to gender-based violence and awareness on protective services in various areas, including marginalized regions and Area C; initiating a dialogue on the revamping of the National Referral System (Takamul) that would allow women access to protective services; reviewing relevant procedures and protocols to include the various institutions, especially those in marginalized areas and Area C, and measuring their efficacy in the different districts; putting pressure on the Ministry of Finance to increase the financial ceiling of the Ministry of Social Development based on its plans and the policy agenda, which reflect the needs of social sectors and beneficiaries. This includes increasing allocations for the budgets of protective services and integration programs along with economic empowerment programs that target battered women in the four districts, which will contribute to and support women’s access to protective and safety services.

The participants also reaffirmed the need to coordinate efforts and exchange information and roles between official and international parties and institutions, as this is reflected in the funding coordination of international institutions working in the protection sector. They said this could be achieved through the distribution of resources in a manner commensurate with the needs in various districts.

This session is part of MIFTAH’s efforts to open dialogue on issues pertaining to government policies on the challenges of access for battered women to protective services including those caught in the cycle of violence. This is based on findings from MIFTAH’s mapping study on protective services for women in the northern districts of the West Bank, namely Tubas, Jenin, Tulkarm and Qalqilya. The sessions are held in partnership with the Women’s Center for Legal Aid and Counseling (WCLAC) within its EU-funded project, “Together for the protection and promotion of Palestinian women’s rights.”

 
 
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