The morning of September 1st 2013 seemed like a regular morning, until the news titles at 7:30 reported the vile killing of five women in Daburieh village. The killing shocked everyone that heard about it, and rumbled the women organizations working to eradicate the phenomenon of killing women in the Palestinian community in Israel.
Zahira, Madlene, Amani, Lama and Abed El-Salam, are no longer alive. Each one of them had a program in that day, go to school, meet friends, play at the kindergarten or go to work. All of this was stopped because the father went out for his death (killing) journey and moved from one scene to the other with no intervention from anyone, a journey that ended with the death of his ex-wife, 3 daughters and a worker at the local nursing home.
The list of victims since the beginning of 2013 includes: Ala’ Shami (Eibelin), Maya Zbeidat (Basmat Tavon), Mona Mahajneh (Um El-Fahem), Fatmi Jabareen (Um El-Fahem), Suha El-Baz (Kfar Bara), Shahinaz Daoud (Majd El-Krum), Asinad and Rimas Emtirat (Al-Fura’).
Killing women in general, and Palestinian women specifically, became a worrisome phenomenon that’s getting wider. Therefore, we, women organization and human rights organizations joined together in the coalition against killing Palestinian women. Today, as a coalition and active women, we are fighting this phenomenon in two major levels. One is the poor handling from the state’s institutions, and the second is the social structure of the community. For many years, there has been serious flaws on how the police and the judiciary manage complaints from threatened and murdered women and how they utilizing the responsible to justice. Many cases are closed, or end with plea-bargains and light sentences, even when the identity of the responsible person is known. So far facts show that the legal system “are standing on the sideline” and don´t fulfill their obligations to handle the murder and threats against Arab women.
In her book “Eichmann in Jerusalem: A report on the Banality of Evil” (1963), Hannah Arendt argued that in every murder case there are three axes of the triangle banal act: the first vertex is the victim, the second the operator and the third is any bystanders. It is not the place to document the long-standing practice of various women’s organizations to eradicate the phenomenon, instead this is to note that the triangle banality Arendt described, the Israeli legal system, including the police and political leadership are among those bystanders. Law enforcement, containing police and courts, must cease to stand aside.
It was a notable surprise when it turned out that one the victims from Daburia, as in most cases, complained to the police and asked for help, but as in most cases, the complaint handling fell through the cracks – between the police and prosecution. According to the police, a few months ago the woman completed a filing of charges against her ex-husband, following by a second complaint from the woman against the killer – but the office decided to close the case.
Some present statistics indicate a decline in the incidence of violence against women, at least in the Northern District. How is it possible that there is a decrease – when there were 88 victims in the last decade, of which 13 was in the current year?
Moreover, instead of giving security for women who suffer from violence and threats, police and welfare departments send them to shelters, and thereby doubling their suffering and the suffering of their children. Murderers, the ones that threatens, and the ones who supports them, are the ones who need to be detached from society, not vice versa. Poor and degrading treatment by the police and prosecution in Daboria case, and in many other cases, proves that they did not bother to do the work required. The result: five victims who were murdered in cold blood by a despicable killer, then they say: the writing was on the wall.
How many more murders must happen before the police and prosecution does their job properly? How long will the prosecution and the police “stand aside” without action as if the phenomenon of killing women is something that cannot be prevented? Where is the political leadership’s responsibility to all citizens, and in this case to women in particular? How long will women pay with their lives for contempt and indifference of the police, prosecution and the judiciary?
Killing women is not a “unique” phenomenon for the Arab society, it is not culture oriented, with no romantic background, and it has no “honor”. Thanks to the persistent struggle women organizations and human rights organizations, the term murdered for “honor killings” has been deleted from the accepted discourse in Arab society.
Some may argue that in recent years there has been an increase in referrals of Arab women to the police and filing complaints about domestic violence, and this is following to an increased public awareness of Arab society in general, and Arab women in particular. Especially to their right to live in security and without violence. But then the police and the judicial system should explain why there was an increase in deaths of women despite the increase in the number of complaints?
In order to eradicate this phenomenon, we, the coalition against killing of Arab women, will continue to fight against it at both levels, in the Arab society and in the law enforcement authorities. We will continue to go out to the streets and protest against this, we will continue to monitor and criticize and call a killer with his name. We call the law enforcement system, legal system and political leadership to stop standing on the sidelines, so we don’t once again have to say, “The writing was on the wall”.
For the article in Hebrew, visit Haaretz