Death of pregnant Palestinian woman sparks concerns about domestic abuse in West Bank

Death of pregnant Palestinian woman sparks concerns about domestic abuse in West Bank
A pregnant Palestinian woman was found dead in her home, in the latest case of domestic abuse in the occupied West Bank.
2 min read
22 October, 2020
Cases of violence have increased since Covid-19 [Getty]

The death of a pregnant woman and mother of two in the north of the West Bank has left Palestinian rights organisations concerned about domestic abuse in the territories.

On Wednesday, Palestinian police spokesman Loai Irzeiqat said that a 24-year-old woman was found dead in her house in the town of Nabi Elias.

He said that the body was sent to forensics and police were investigating the cause of death but the Palestinian ministry of social affairs later alleged she was the victim of a "heinous murder", according to the Wafa news agency.

Local media reports alleged that the husband was drunk when he was detained by police and the ministry also claimed he might have been behind the woman's death.

Read also: Trapped with domestic abusers: How Covid-19 lockdowns are endangering vulnerable women across the Middle East

The Palestinian Network of NGOs has expressed alarm at the murder of the young woman, calling on politicians and civil society to take all necessary steps to protect Palestinian women from domestic abuse.

According to the United Nations Population Fund, 29 percent of Palestinian women inside Palestine has reported psychological, physical, sexual, social, or financial abuse by their husbands at least once between 2018 and 2019.

Levels of domestic violence are notably higher in the Gaza Strip than the occupied West Bank, according to the statistics.

The coronavirus pandemic has left women even more vulnerable to abuse throughout the region. At the start of the pandemic, the director of a woman’s shelter told The New Arab that that they were forced to turn away women due to a lack of resources.

"We are running low on employees because they aren't able to leave their own families alone," Saeeda Al-Atrash, director of Safe House in Palestine's occupied city of Bethlehem, said.

"We've been forced to not accept new victims because of the threat of coronavirus contamination," she added.

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