Racial and Gendered State Violence: 10 000 Palestinian Women Imprisoned

An estimated 10,000 Palestinian women have been arrested and detained since 1967 under Israeli military orders, which govern nearly every aspect of life in the occupied Palestinian territory today, including more than 750 Palestinian women arrested by Israel between the years 2000-2009.

Both HaSharon and Damon Prisons lack a gender-sensitive approach and, as such, female prisoners detained there suffer from harsh imprisonment conditions and interlocking systems of oppression, which are enacted through medical negligence, denial of education, denial of family visits, solitary confinement, and overcrowded cells. A majority of these cells are infested with insects, dirty, and lack adequate ventilation and natural light. The Israeli Prison Service, even in cases involving the detention of pregnant female detainees, rarely addresses personal health and hygiene needs.

Other forms of abuse perpetrated against Palestinian women detainees and prisoners include numerous forms of sexual harassment, namely: threats of rape (in some cases threats of rape are made towards the detainee’s family members), sexually degrading insults, and invasive body/strip searches used as a method of punishment. These occurrences are a fundamental part of Palestinian women’s prison experiences and should be understood as a common and systematic form of racial and gendered State violence.

Research has shown that Israel’s prison authorities use these forms of sexual harassment to deliberately exploit Palestinian women’s fears by playing on patriarchal norms as well as gender stereotypes within particular customs of Palestinian society. Accordingly, occurrences of sexual harassment are a sensitive issue for Palestinian women and their families; this vulnerability makes these measures especially effective tools for interrogators, and is compounded by the lack of available post-assault resources.

Israel’s routine practice of strip searching female prisoners and detainees as a method of punishment violates both international human rights and humanitarian law, including the UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, as well as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which stipulates in Article 7 that: “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment…” Similarly, Article 3(1)(c) of the Fourth Geneva Convention (1949) forbids” outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment”.

Support the immediate release of all Palestinian political prisoners held unlawfully outside the occupied Palestinian territory.

Support an immediate stop to Israel’s practices of sexual violence, including strip searches and invasive body searches, shackling of pregnant women during labour, and use of threats and/or other forms of sexual assault.

Israeli authorities, in particular the Prison Service, must meet their obligations under the UN Minimum Standard Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners and ensure that all subjects under Israeli jurisdiction are granted their full rights to formal education for girls under the age of 18, (including access to books and study materials inside the prisons), nutritional diet programs, especially for pregnant detainees, health care including specialized gynaecological services, hospital/doctor visits when required, dental care, and open family visits (especially for mothers of minors).

Not least, female prisoners and detainees be provided unhindered access to religious, cultural and gender sensitive social services, including trained Arabic-speaking women specialist in the field of social work, psychology and counselling. These rights and services must be administered only by Palestinians; as such, the Israeli authorities and the Israel Prison Service must grant full, unhindered access to Palestinian programs and service providers in this regard.

For more information on female prisoners: Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association at http://www.addameer.info


4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Werkgroep Morkhoven on December 7, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    Thanks, we share it.


  2. Posted by Werkgroep Morkhoven on December 7, 2010 at 5:29 pm

  3. […] Racial and Gendered State Violence: 10 000 Palestinian Women Imprisoned December 2010 2 comments 5 […]


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