Palestinian activists and human rights organizations welcomed on Monday measures by the government to give more rights to women.
The changes include the right of Palestinian women to pass on their citizenship to their children and to open bank accounts in their names.
The Cabinet also recommended to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas a series of legal amendments that include canceling or amending laws that allow rapists to avoid punishment by marrying their victims.
The decisions were announced following the Cabinet session on Monday.
The recommendations include the abolition of Article 308 of a Jordanian law still in effect in Palestine. The Jordanian Parliament abolished Article 308 (which pardons rapists who marry their victim) last August. The Palestinian government also recommended changes to the 1960 penal code, which allowed for lower punishment for acts of violence carried out in so-called “honor crimes.”
Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said in a televised message that these changes “honor Palestinian women and that they are their rights and not a gift to them.” He vowed that more decisions advancing equality between women and men were planned.
The Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights issued a statement welcoming the decisions, which comes ahead of Women’s Day on Thursday.
“More is needed to attain total equality and to be in total adherence with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), adopted in 1979 by the UN General Assembly,” the commission said.
Salwa Hdaib, a member of the Fatah revolutionary council, told Arab News that Palestinian women’s goals for more equality were now much higher after recent changes to the law in other Arab countries such as Tunisia and Morocco.
“We deserve to have a much better legal system which truly equates the rights of men and women in political rights, in jobs and social justice,” she said.
Hdaib, who heads the Jerusalem Women's Movement, said that Palestinian women were still behind in divorce rights, inheritance and equal treatment in the courts.
“Palestinian women in general and women in Jerusalem have paid a huge price in the Palestinian struggle and they deserve nothing less than total equal rights and protection from their government and leaders.”
Lama Hourani, an activist in Ramallah and a community organizer, told Arab News that while she welcomed all improvements, she would wait and see what was in the amended laws that President Abbas will sign.
Hourani said that the personal status law, which covers issues including divorce, adoption and alimony, was in need of the most improvement. It includes laws that grant males twice the inheritance of a female.
“Until we reach total equality in our society we need to make major changes in the most important law in this regard, which is the personal status law. All other changes are nothing but cosmetic improvements.”
Hourani told Arab News that what was needed was to follow the signed international conventions that aimed to eliminate all forms of discrimination.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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