At least 18 Palestinian women have been murdered in “honour killings” this year

The death of Israa Ghrayeb from Beit Sahour in the Palestinian Territories on August 22nd last has provoked widespread protests. She died after having posted online a video showing her in the company of her male fiancé. She was allegedly beaten and tortured by her brother for “dishonouring” the family. As if that were not horrific enough, her family were reportedly able to subsequently gain access to her in hospital where they allegedly resumed the beating and torture (WARNING: this link contains content that some people may find disturbing). The Palestinian Authority (PA) has announced an investigation following pressure from the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor but people will be skeptical as to how serious the PA is about addressing these crimes or about the rights of Palestinian women in general.

The death of Israa Ghrayeb has provoked widespread protests (Source

After all, there are numerous examples of official PA TV regularly broadcasting programs where wife-beating is discussed as being something that is acceptable with guidelines being issued advising men how to physically assault their wives in accordance with Quranic principles.

According to official figures issued by the Palestinian police, there were 24 murders in the West Bank during 2018, only 3 of which were “honor killings” against women. The homicide statistics for 2017 from the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) report a total of 5 women being killed in the West Bank during that year (2017 being the most recent year for which the Bureau has official data).  

However, the General Union of Palestinian Women and Feminist Institutions says that at least 18 Palestinian women have been killed in so-called honour killings so far in the first 8 months of this year. That’s heading towards an annual total of just under 30. Even allowing for the fact that less populous Gaza is not included in the figures, the above offical figures (3 or 5) of female murder victims seem to be suspiciously low – especially since not all violent deaths of women will have been “honour killings”. It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that Palestinian authorities are suppressing the true level of “honour killings” in Palestinian society.
This does beg certain questions: How serious will the PA investigation into the death of Israa Ghrayeb be? And do the Palestinian authorities consider the “honour killing” of a woman to actually be a murder at all?

by Ciarán Ó Raghallaigh

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