Every year on the 8th of march, the whole world celebrates women’s day.
On this occasion, and for tens of years under occupation, Palestinian women have proven themselves to be a major influencer who have a pivotal role in shaping the Palestinian struggle, whether socially, politically or intellectually.
Palestinian women have always been part of it that, alongside men, they have been activists, strugglers, workers, leaders, and were exposed to martyrdom, imprisonment, and pain of loss as well. In addition, they are the mothers, sisters and daughters in a suffering community.
According to Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, over the last 45 years, an estimated 10,000 Palestinian women have been arrested and/or detained under Israeli military orders.
At the moment, there are 56 Palestinian females in prison. 13 of them are underage. Three females are placed under administrative arrest.
The number of women arrested in 2015 has shown a 70% rise following the start of the third Intifada (uprising) in October. Since then, 285 Palestinians have been killed, 24 of them females, 12 of which are under 18.
According to the Prisoners’ Affairs Commission, one of the prisoners, Sabah Faroun, from Izzariyeh, east of Jerusalem, is serving time in administrative detention, which has been renewed for six months for the second time in a row.
Another prisoner, Lena Jarbouni, from inside Israel, is considered the oldest woman prisoner who is serving a 17-year sentence. She is supposed to be released in April.
Underage prisoners also recently received heavy sentences with Shatila Abu Ayyad, from inside Israel, and Shorouq Dwayyat, both sentenced to 16 years in prison, Maysoun Jabali, from Bethlehem, sentenced to 15 years in prison, and Marah Bakir, eight years and Marah Showbaki, six years, both from East Jerusalem.
In 2015, Palestinian women have had a major participation in the protests and demonstrations against the Israeli soldiers.
According to Addameer, the majority of Palestinian women prisoners are subjected to some form of psychological torture and ill-treatment throughout the process of their arrest and detention, including various forms of sexual violence that occur such as beatings, insults, threats, body searches, and sexually explicit harassment.
A survey carried out last year by the Knesset Research and Information Center that dealt with perceptions of personal security among residents of Israel – from economics, to health, to employment, to feelings of safety in public spaces – found Palestinian women were by far the most vulnerable group.
According to AlJazeera, The survey, conducted in February and released in March 2016, found that overall women’s sense of personal security was lower than men’s. It divided the Israeli population into four groups: Israeli-born Jewish citizens, Russian immigrants, Haredi and Arabs. Among women, Arabs were found to feel the least secure, with 73 percent of Palestinian women fearing discrimination due to their identity, followed by Haredi women at just over 30 percent.
Addameer says that upon arrest, women detainees are not informed where they are being taken and are rarely explained their rights during interrogation. These techniques of torture and ill-treatment are used not only as means to intimidate Palestinian women detainees but also as tools to humiliate Palestinian women and coerce them into giving confessions.
While Israeli prison authorities and military forces recruit women soldiers to detain, and accompany women prisoners during transfers, the female soldiers responsible for these procedures are no less violent towards Palestinian detainees than their male counterparts. In January 2010, Breaking the Silence, an Israeli NGO which collects anonymous testimonies from Israel’s occupation forces in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, released a 122-page booklet documenting the increasing levels of violence inflicted upon Palestinians by Israeli women soldiers. The testimonies compiled in the study reveal that the Israeli women soldiers deploy violent methods of control against Palestinian men and women in an effort to seek respect and recognition from male soldiers and their superiors.