THE BRUTAL murder by relatives of Israa Gharib in the Occupied Palestinian Territories has spurred widespread protests demanding protection for women and gender equality, writes Khadija El Rabti.
Hundreds of women took to the streets of Haifa on Thursday, in demand of legal protection after the murder of a 21-year-old Palestinian woman.
Soon, streets far and wide, from Gaza to Ramallah to Yaffa to Berlin, swarmed with demonstrators under a Palestinian feminist campaign “Taliaat,” meaning “coming out” in Arabic.
The social movement seeks to build a comprehensive and inclusive Palestinian women’s movement involving all places of Historic Palestine and the Diaspora, to fight against patriarchy and all forms of violence facing Palestinian women, with an emphasis on the stance that the liberation of Palestine cannot be achieved without the liberation of women as banners read “Free Homeland, Free Women.”
Hala Marshoud, an activist in the movement, told Arab 48: “Taliaat is a scream from Palestinian women that starts today in different places across the country and abroad to demand an end to all forms of gender oppression and to stop postponing the issue of violence against women until after national liberation.”
Israa Gharib, young make-up artist and influencer, was brutally murdered in the name of “honour killing” in August. The 21-year-old from Bethlehem was violently beaten by male members of her family after fury sparked because of a video posted on her Instagram account, where she was allegedly seen in the company of a man who had formally proposed to her.
According to several Palestinian media reports, Gharib was hospitalised for some time two weeks before her death due to serious spinal injuries after falling from a balcony in an attempt to escape a ruthless assault.
The horrific death of Gharib stimulated outrage on social media internationally under the trending hashtag #JusticeforIsraa, as well as in the Occupied Palestinian Territories in the form of demonstrations in 12 different locations around the country.
“The case of Israa Gharib 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 (GUPWFI) said in a statement.
On Tuesday, the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Women’s Affairs confirmed that before the end of 2019, the PA will enact a family protection law in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
“We are moving towards forming the law and other measures to protect women… in addition to the adoption of a [minimum] age for marriage,” Amal Hamad, minister of women’s affairs, told Media Line.
According to GUPWFI, in this year only, at least 18 Palestinian women have been murdered by their families on grounds of allegedly bringing shame and dishonour to the family name. Examples are when young women fraternise with men.
Activists and protesters held up photographs of past victims, and banners and placards with the slogans “We are all Israa” and “Free homeland, free women” printed on them as they marched through the streets in solidarity.
These activists demand action from the authorities to further investigate Israa Gharib’s case and bring her justice, as well as to introduce legal procedures and social programmes to advocate gender equality.
The demonstrators have no intention in quieting down until they see change and an end to barbaric murders like the death of Israa Gharib.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 3 October, 2019 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.