Palestine: Woman Killed in Gaza Refugee Camp to "Maintain Family Honor"

Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR)

On Friday afternoon, 27 November 2009, Rifqa Ghazi 'Abdullah Salam, 29, from al-Shati refugee camp west of Gaza City, was killed allegedly "to maintain family honor." According to police sources in al-Shati, at approximately 13:30 on Friday, 27 November 2009, the woman's brother, two uncles and two cousin strangled her using a wet towel while she was sleeping at home near Hmaid intersection in al-Shati refugee camp. 

The police initiated an investigation into the murder and arrested the 5 accused persons.  Initial investigations indicate that the woman was killed allegedly to "maintain family honor."

Sources of the forensic medicine department at Shifa Hospital reported that the woman was strangled by a wet towel.

 According to PCHR's documentation, the number of people killed allegedly "to maintain family honor" since the beginning of 2009 has amounted to 10 (7 women, two men and a child) in 8 crimes. One of these crimes was committed in the West Bank, whereas the rest of the crimes were committed in the Gaza Strip.

PCHR strongly condemns this latest crime, and:

1.         Expresses concern over the recurrence of murders against women in the Occupied Palestinian Territory allegedly "to maintain family honor." Such recurrence may be attributed to the relative impunity granted to murderers, who are often sentenced to less than 3 civil years of imprisonment, equivalent to 24 months of effective imprisonment.

2.         Calls for suitable deterrent penalties to be applied to "family honor" murders.  These murders must be dealt with in the same manner as other crimes of willful killing, taking into consideration international human rights standards. Many murderers use the claim of maintaining family honor as a justification for the crimes they commit in order to benefit from more lenient sentences.