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The WCLAC Bulletin - April 2017

Randa Siniora: “We need to change the rules of the game. The feminist work of changing power relations is more urgent now than ever”: Between the 24th – 29th of April, WCLAC’s General Director Ms.Randa Siniora participated in a convening organized in Geneva by the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) on “Reclaiming the United Nations as a Peace Organisation – ensuring women’s meaningful participation for peace and strengthening multilateralism”.The convening was attended by diverse women-led civil society groups and allies in international intergovernmental organisations from Yemen, Syria, Palestine, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), South Africa, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, among others. The first day of the convening focused on the MENA region through “Re-envisioning women’s effective participation in the MENA region”, While the rest of the convening was dedicated to analyse and review how the principles of the UN itself can be reclaimed. Read more

A landmark judgement in the case of Suha Al Deek:
The case of Suha Abdual Aziz Al Deek, who was brutally murdered with a kitchen knife by her husband in front of her children in 2014, had its final statement on the 10th of April after being postponed several times within the last 3 years. Al Deek’s murderer, her husband, was sentenced 10 years which was far from the prosecutor’s demand of at least 25 years of imprisonment, however, this is the first time in such a case that the court has treated the crime as murder and handed down a heavy sentence. Throughout the trial, WCLAC has continued its presence each time the case was taken to the Court of Appeal in Ramallah Governorate through protests, stands and issuing statements. Read more

Lebanon to repeal gender discriminative rapist law as an example for neighbouring countries:
According to the penal code article no. 522 of Lebanon, a person can escape charges and prosecution if the person marries the victim, victimised of rape, kidnapping and/or statutory rape. Similar laws exist throughout most the Middle Eastern region, and in Palestine too under the Penal Code of 1967 under Jordanian rule in the West Bank and the Penal Code of 1967 under Egyptian law in the Gaza Strip. Human rights organisation in Lebanon – and women’s rights organisations in particular – have for a long time campaigned and appealed to the Lebanese government to repeal the law, and on the 7th of December 2016, members of the Parliamentary Committee for Administration and Justice announced an agreement to repeal the article no. 522. However, the reform of the article will first have to go to the full Lebanese parliament for review, but it is surely a preliminary victory for the civil society organisations and Lebanese women. As a civil society organisation, WCLAC also campaigns and appeals the Palestinian government to reform the Penal Code of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Regionally, in 1999, Egypt repealed article 291 from its penal code which had allowed rapist or kidnappers to escape prosecution by marrying their victim and in 2014, Morocco removed a clause from the Penal Code article no. 475 that in specific cases allowed men to escape prosecution for raping a child if they married the child, and finally in April 2017 Jordan repealed article no.308 from the Penal Code. Currently, WCLAC is together with other civil society organisations finishing a proposal to reform the Penal Code implemented in the West Bank which will be forwarded to President Mahmoud Abbas. Read more

Oldest Palestinian woman dies at the age of 109:
Labiba Mahmoud Odeh died of natural causes on Monday the 17th of April 2017 at the age of 109, making her the oldest Palestinian woman ever. Odeh was born in 1908, which means she has lived through some of the most significant time periods of Palestinian history, including the period of the Ottoman rule, the British Mandate, Jordanian rule, the current Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem and the current siege of the Gaza Strip. Odeh has therefore lived an extraordinary long life, where she became a mother of five and grandmother and great-grandmother to more than 80 relatives. Read more

Men and women in joint hunger strike against the inhumane conditions in Israeli prisons:
On Palestinian Prisoner’s Day on the 17th of April, around 1.500 Palestinians imprisoned in Israeli prisons launched a joint hunger strike in protest to the inhumane conditions they face in Israeli prisons. Two days later, on Wednesday the 19th, it was announced that 58 women in Israeli Hasharon Prison would join the protest. The hunger strikers are protesting against the lack of basic rights, which e.g. covers; visits and the frequency and duration of those; communication with the world outside of prisons; guaranteed high quality health care; more comfortable transportation between destinations; allowing detainees to study, have books, newspapers, clothes and food and finally respond to the needs and demands of Palestinian women detainees. As a response to the peaceful hunger strike, Israeli authorities quelled prisoners through solitary confinement and punitive measures. Read more

Stitching Palestine: Documentary sews Palestinian narrative through women's eyes
-  12 high-profile Palestinian women living in Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine tell the stories of their exile and their current lives, with the stitching of a piece of embroidery progressing as they tell their stories, linking one to another. “Palestine’s story is made up of many stories, and the point of view of women is also more personal than the rest. They have a good life, but went through hard moments that a lot of people share and that resonates with the refugees nowadays. It is a global story of loss and displacement.” said producer and film researcher Muna Khalidi. Read more.

Daughter of Palestinian prisoner: 'It’s my right to see you’ -
14-year-old daughter of Palestinian prisoner Abdullah Barghouthi, who was sentenced to 67 life sentences, read a letter to her father on Wednesday 19 April 2017 as part of an event at her school in the occupied West Bank district of Ramallah, as Barghouthi entered the third day of his hunger strike, along with hundreds of other Palestinian prisoners. Read more

Voices of women from Jerusalem -
On 19 September 2016, 44-year-old mother from Silwan is forced to demolish the shop she owns after Israeli authorities served her with a demolition order for lack of building permit.Suheir is a 44-year-old mother from Ath Thuri in Jerusalem. Suheir supports her family by running a shop which she owns.  “In April 2015, I received financial aid from an NGO, Agricultural relief, from which I was able to build a small shop, (12*250) square meters, and was able to fill it up with food supplies. I was proud of my accomplishment, as I am running the house since my husband is sick. Although it was not easy to deal with suppliers but I felt happy to be financially independent and able to support my family.” Read more

“My mother thought I was crazy, and she was probably right”
- Suad Amiry, an architect, writer, and performer, jokingly says: “My life seems to be a series of ten-year itches; major shifts take place in my interests, my profession, my work, and even the places where I live.” Born to a Damascene mother and a Palestinian father from Jaffa, Amiry grew up between Amman, Damascus, Beirut, and Cairo. She studied architecture at the American University of Beirut, obtained an MA in urban planning from the University of Michigan, and received a PhD from the University of Edinburgh, specializing in Palestinian village architecture. Read more