Arab women protest 'honor killings,' lack of police response

Arab women protest 'honor killings,' lack of police response

October 6, 2016

         , 30.9.16. :   -
The week following the murder of Dua'a Abu Sharkh was filled with strikes and protests, mostly by Arab women, in the mixed city of Lod. Dua'a Abu Sharkh, who was murdered in front of her four children on September 23rd following a separation from a violent husband, is the fifth Arab women to have been murdered this year alone (out of a total of 13 Israeli women in 2016.)

The murder reignited anger within Arab society about violence against women, the use of the concept of family honor to justify it, and about inadequate police response due to poor police-Arab relations in Israel. Arab women have made up 38% of the of the 104 Israeli women reported murdered since 2011--well above the 21% that Arab citizens' make up of the entire population. Most of Arab women murders remain unsolved.

MK Aida Tuma-Sliman stands alongside the family of Dua'a Abu Sharkh, who was murdered last week in front of her children, Friday, September 30, 2016. (Haggai Matar)Arab women and some men protested in the streets of Lod in the days following the killing, culminating after a week in a 1000-strong march. Arab activist Samah Salaime Agbariye (founder of  Arab Women in the Center and head of the Struggle Against Violence in Arab Society at Sikkuy) called this protest "The Women's Intifada" (Hebrew) and wrote scathingly on Facebook about continued use of the concept of “dishonoring the family” that is used to justify such violence.

Activist Dalia Halabi published a reaction to the murder in magazine, saying Arab society still "awards its men privileges solely on the basis of their gender" and that "women who question the existing order and who dare to raise their voices pose a real threat and risk losing their lives." She goes on to distinguish that Arab men are not born murderers of women but are raised as such as a result of the blind eye and even encouragement of the community.

In recent years, Arab women’s organizations have been working eradicate this use of "family honor.” In parallel, voices within Arab society have been calling on the Israeli police to take a much more proactive role in combating rising violence within Arab society.

At a meeting of the Knesset Committee for the Advancement of the Status of Women on Thursday, October 6, chairwoman Aida Touma-Sliman (Joint List) lamented that police have been unsuccessful in reducing violence against Arab women.

There’s no one to talk to,” Dua'a Abu Sharkhs' sister explained to the committee. “We feel threatened, like the murderer killed all of us. I’m a strong woman, but I’m afraid that I’m being followed.” According to her, Abu Shrakh had complained to the police about her husband’s violence, but did not get a response.

MKs called on police to develop a plan to reduce violence against women and to report on existing cases opened following domestic violence complaints. MKs placed equal blame on Arab society and cited a need for change. MK Ahmad Tibi (Joint List) called the issue a "societal ill" saying there are Arab "men who think they can easily take the life of a woman because they think she is worth less than they are. That is primitive and inferior thinking.”

Further reading:

Using the term 'honor killings' leads to many more victims, Israeli Arab activists warn - The Times of Israel - Melanie Lidman - 10.14.16

40 Arab women murdered in Ramle and Lod in past 30 years - Jerusalem Post - Lahav Harkov - 10.06.16.

Following murder, hundreds of Arab women march against gender violence - +972 – Haggai Matar and Hagar Shezaf - 10.1.16.

How activists are confronting contract killings of Israeli Arab women - Al-Monitor - Shlomi Eldar - 9.28.16.


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