The Social Provision for women in the Personal Status Laws in the West Bank from the Perspective of the Law and the Women's Movement

Discussion Committee: 
Dr. Julia Droeber/super visor
Prof. Lora Al-Khuri/external examiner
Dr. Ali Mousleh/internal examiner
Dr. Julia Droeber/super visor
Randa Fisal Abd AlKareem Qadri
The subject of this dissertation is the extent to which Personal Status Laws ensure social protection for women, and the main obstacles of this ensurance, be they in the legal texts or in the means of their implementation. Social protection or safety here is understood as what women are looking for when psychological stability is guaranteed, which in turn leads to familial stability. This study was carried out to find out the extent to which Personal Status Laws guarantee social protection for women as well as to show the obstacles that prevent this guarantee, be they in the texts of the law or in the means of implementation. The introduction outlines the importance of the study, especially the contradictions and differences between the text of the Personal Status Laws and international documents, on the basis of which many feminist organizations demanded amendments; it also explores the obstacles of such amendments and of the law in ensuring social protection for women. The study is built on a historical methodology in order to detail the historical developments of the Personal Status Laws and legal rules; it further employed a descriptive methodology using interviews as a tool. The second chapter discusses the importance of social protection or safety, its understanding and forms; it defines Personal Status Laws and describes its historical establishment with its characteristic as a primary engineer of family relations. It also describes the motivation of the feminist movement and the reasons that led to their demand of amendments of the Law. It further discusses the main obstacles they faced in amending the Law, referring to a study that of the feminist legal organisations carried out to assess women’s legal knowledge and what they want from the Law. The third chapter details the issues, around which most differences and contradictions exist between the Personal Status Laws and international documents and agreements, such as marriage age and divorce. The most important demands for amendment concerned marriage age, the effects of early marriage, and the reasons and effects of divorce on the family in general and women in particular, the negative societal effects on women in case of divorce and the loss of economic protection after a divorce. The fourth chapter discusses the understanding of legal issues, its history, characteristics, and adjunct departments with the purpose of implementing the Law in a better way. It shows the aims of its foundation and the effects of its existence in legal courts. This chapter furthermore explores the obstacles that legal courts are facing in implementing the Law in the sense of ensuring social and psychological protection and safety for women, be they material, social, or organizational obstacles, through the executing departments or the lawyers. This was discussed from a legal and a feminist point of view. The chapter also discusses a number of cases of women who have suffered and continue to suffer from the poor implementation of Personal Status Laws, be that through the legal courts or the work of the executing departments. The dissertation concludes with a number of results and recommendations, as well as agreements with previous studes, such as the absence of a legislative body as the biggest obstacle for the amendment of laws that ensure the protection and safety of women as well as the non-existence of a clear vision for the amendments. The study stands out in terms of other results, such as the basic obstacles for the ensurance of protection, namely a means of implementing the Personal Status Laws rather than the texts in general, although this should not prevent a reconsideration of a renewal of the Law. The most significant obstacle for implementation goes back to societal obstacles, which goes back to customs and traditions, the culture of a patriarchal society, women’s lack of knowledge in general about the Law, their rights and duties. The most important recommendations were the necessity of finding a unified strategy and a comprehensive view among all organisations concerned, legislators, judges, and feminists, so that a unified vision can be found to amend some texts in order to conform with the demands of our time; to find out about the obstacles that stand in the way of implementing the Law in a way to ensure the societal protection in general and the social protection and safety of women in particular.
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