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Violence against women in Palestinian society is on the rise. This is according to a report prepared by Ohaila Shomar, coordinator of SAWA (All Women Together Today and Tomorrow) which operates a hotline for battered Palestinian women.
The report, which was a group effort between SAWA and other organizations, showed that at least 48 women have been killed in the last three years in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as a result of domestic violence. Until 2004, the number of Palestinian women murdered every year ranged between 10 and 12.
Most of the victims were murdered for allegedly bringing "shame" on male members of their families. The victims' ages ranged between 12 and 85.
Shomar, who for years has helped Palestinian women deal with violence and sexual abuse, said that 32 of the cases were related to "honor killings" and all except two of the victims were Muslims. Fourteen of the women were single, eight married, six divorced and two widowed.
Seventeen of the women had been murdered by their brothers, while only five were slain by their fathers, the report showed. The methods of murder included strangulation, poisoning, hanging, shooting and beating.
Half of the murders took place in the West Bank, while the other half occurred in the Gaza Strip.
The 40-page report pointed out that the real problem was the absence of a proper law to punish the perpetrators. The Palestinians still use a Jordanian law dating back to 1960 and which imposes a light sentence on men involved in "honor killings."