Ms. Israa Al-Mudallal
Spokeswoman, Hamas Organization
RE: Open Letter Regarding Women’s Rights in Gaza
Dear Ms. Al-Mudallal,
Please allow me to congratulate you on your appointment to the new position of spokeswomen to the foreign press. This is certainly an impressive achievement which I am sure that you deserve.
As someone who has promised to “work on changing the media discourse, painting a different picture of Palestine and Gaza”, I would love to hear your opinion on the status of women’s rights in the Gaza Strip, and according to Hamas policy in general.
As I am sure that you are aware, since Hamas came to power in Gaza, women have been banned from dancing or smoking in public, walking alone on the beach, riding with men on motorcycles, and even getting a haircut from a male hairdresser. Are these rules justified in your eyes?
What do you think, for instance, about the directives of Hamas leaders, which make women cover themselves with an “abaiya” (a cloak which conceals the curves of their bodies) and a hijab (a head covering) in schools and institutes of higher education, such as Al-Aksa University? Furthermore, do you support the law, which segregates boys and girls, starting from seventh grade in Gaza?
Similarly, what is your opinion of modesty operations by Hamas policemen in Gaza over the past few months, in which women are detained in the street if their dress is considered to be immodest or their haircuts too modern?
I would also love to hear your thoughts regarding Article 18 of the Penal Code (1936) applicable in Gaza, whereby judges are expected to mitigate the sentence of a man who murders his daughter, wife, mother, sister or other family member in order to preserve “family honor”. Is this a worthy law in your eyes?
What, in your opinion, is the primary source of the high unemployment rate of women in Gaza, which sometimes reaches 35%? Do you think that your appointment as the Spokeswoman of Hamas signifies progress towards equal job opportunities in Gaza?
I would be grateful if you could also address the issue of inheritance. We know that according to empirical data, approximately 88% of women in Gaza are prohibited from sharing in the inheritance with their brothers, upon the death of their parents.
Finally, what do you think about the induction of young women into the ranks of Hamas suicide bombers?
If you would be so kind as to address the above questions without blaming the “Israeli occupation”, I would greatly appreciate it. Indeed, it is hard for me to believe that the Jewish citizens of Israel are in any way responsible for discrimination against women under the Hamas administration in Gaza.
Human Rights Activist