'93% of Palestinian kids suffer domestic violence'

Further surveys reported that only 52.2% of Palestinian families feel they can provide a safe environment for their children.

palestinian kids looking (photo credit: AP)
palestinian kids looking
(photo credit: AP)
Ahead of International Children's Day, New Family - an organization that promotes family rights - reported unnerving statistics on Sunday in its annual 2007 report on domestic violence in Palestinian families. According to statistics gathered from the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics and the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion (PCPO), 93.3 percent of Palestinian children have experienced domestic violence, amounting to 1,950,739 children - 953,950 of whom are girls. Further surveys reported that only 52.2% of Palestinian families feel they can provide a safe environment for their children. According to attorney Irit Rosenblum, founder and chairperson of New Family, the issue affects more than just Palestinian households: "It is a global problem. The world is not paying enough attention to poor society." Data from the New Family report revealed that 2.1 million children under the age of 18 comprise 52.2% of the Palestinian population living in the occupied territories. Reportedly, undernourishment causes 10% of these Palestinian children to suffer impaired development, a 36% increase from statistics in 2000. "The situation is getting worse and worse because people are poor," stated Rosenblum, "and Israel needs to help." Today, low body weight is the leading cause for infant deaths in Gaza. This infant mortality rate is three times greater than that of Israel, and also higher than the rate in the Western world. New Family found that 95.1% of Palestinian girls spend the majority of their free time at home, in contrast to 80.5% of Palestinian boys, making the home the only place where female children suffer more violence than males. Rosenblum says "girls, who are less powerful, are the victims. Tradition encourages the inferiority of women, but tradition affects reality." While 24.6% of Palestinian mothers are unaware of their sons' general whereabouts, only 5.2% say they don't know where their daughters spend their free time. After-school clubs and activities are rarely available to Palestinian children, mainly because few options exist, and those are largely unaffordable. The poverty plaguing the families forces one in every 10 Palestinian children under age 18 to work; 73.4% of them work for their families without pay. According to Rosenblum, the current hardships affecting Palestinian society will have harmful effects on neighboring societies. "Palestinian distress has many repercussions for Israeli society that may not be immediately apparent... the Palestinian regime is under our control, and they are considered to be our poor," she said. "This [issue] is the sparkplug of religious global conflict, and Israel is the door to the Third World - a world that influences the actions of fundamental Islam."