Kayan and Baladna Association for Arab Youth organized a conference on the murder of women in Cinemana, Nazareth. The conference was well attended by women, men, and youth from different areas and villages in Israel. The conference opened with a presentation of the joint program between Kayan and Baladna, given by the respective program coordinators, Mona Mahajneh and Qamar Taha. Qamar said: “The program began two and a half years ago with training youth groups on different contents and concepts, followed by needs assessment through a survey of youth attitudes, and work in the field. The program created networking and cooperation between the two groups – youth and women – in order to end the phenomenon of murdering women.”
The partner organizations carried out a survey among 393 youth between the ages of 13-19 in nine different locations: Mghar, Arrabeh, Daliyat El Carmel, Umm El Fahem, Taybeh, Tirah, Baka, Kufur Qasem, and Lyd. The results of the research reflect a high percentage of youth approving of the murder or women (55%), while 52% of the respondents support the murder of women on the grounds of “family honour,” noting that it is a way to maintain a “good society.” On the other hand, 78.6% of the respondents noted that they knew or heard about an activity that fights violence against women, and approximately 55% noted that they have participated in such activities in the past. (To read more about the research, please see Kayan’s abstract).
The two program coordinators noted that the results show a high level of support for the killing of women among young people, while at the same time a large number of these young people are willing to engage in activities opposing the killing of women. The research results are disturbing and dangerous, and as Mona Mahajneh noted, more than ten women are murdered every year, an indication that there are still concepts and practices that give legitimize the murder of women.
Qamar and Mona presented the cooperation model between the two organizations in training facilitators and women leaders in various contents, such as identity, gender, feminism and human rights, violence against women, the patriarchal structure of society, and the role of the various state institutes in the current reality. The partners also held workshops for high-school students, reaching more than 3,500 youth in the past two years.
The group of fighting against the murder of women presented “a glimpse at a woman,” followed by a discussion panel on the role of civil society in fighting the phenomenon in the Palestinian society. The panel was facilitated by Kayan’s community organizer Rawiah Loucia-Shamas, and a representative from the committee against the murder of women, Safa’a Shehada and MK Hanin Zoabi participated in the panel. Mazen Ghanayem, the head of the National committee of local councils, who was supposed to take part in the panel, excused himself that he could not attend.
In her talk, Safa’a Shehada said that “we need intensive, collective work and joining efforts and presenting the issue in the public sphere in creative ways, and working with civil society organizations. The phenomenon of women’s murder is of the most brutal types of violence, and working separately isn’t effective,” stressing the complexities and difficulties in working with the Israeli police, and the importance of working with youth in order to change the discourse.
This panel was followed by a discussion session about the role of media in the context of women’s murder. The session discussed power relations and gender relations, the role of media in consolidating opinions, and the way different political and social events are portrayed to the public.
We at Kayan are continuing to work and invest our resources in fighting the phenomenon of women’s murder.
* The conference was funded by the European Union.