Palestinians decry 'honour killings'

Several hundred Palestinian women have held a silent protest in the West Bank town of Ram Allah, demanding legislation to protect women from so-called honour killings.

    Women protesters demanded a new law on civil crimes

    Holding up banners reading "No to honour killings" and "Where is the security?", about 300 women rallied in the central Manara Square before marching to the Palestinian parliament.

    Women's Affairs Minister Zuhaira Kamal said Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmad Qurei had looked into the matter in view of a recent increase in "honour killings", and that the government was seeking legal means to address the problem.

    "The Palestinian Authority is now looking to implement a law which deals with civil crimes," she said. "The Palestinian government is trying its best to resolve this issue under the law."

    Law demanded

    Standing outside the parliament building, Amal Qreishe, head of the women's union, demanded that MPs immediately adopt a law to protect women from such killings.

    "We want immediate protection for women, and we want the law changed"

    Ramallah protesters

    The protesters then marched to Qurei's office. "We want immediate protection for women, and we want the law changed," they shouted.

    Kamal also demanded the promulgation of a law allowing any Palestinian woman over the age of 18 the right to marry without having to get paternal approval.

    Within Palestinian society, religious and traditional norms dictate that a woman may not marry without the permission of her father.

    Lenient punishment

    Under a Jordanian law in force in the Palestinian territories, a man accused of an "honour killing" is treated leniently, with judges generally giving consideration to the "extenuating circumstances".

    The accused may face a six-month prison term although in the event of a confession, the sentence might be reduced.

    On Monday, two Palestinian sisters were murdered by their brother in occupied east Jerusalem in what was an apparent "honour killing", police said. A third sister was also kept in hospital after being forced to drink acid.

    Last week, a Palestinian Christian confessed to murdering his 20-year-old daughter in Ramallah after she married a Muslim without his consent.



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