Better support and increased legal rights to women survivors of domestic violence in Palestine

Since 2017, Rural Women’s Development Society (RWDS) and DANNER have part-nered to support women survivors of domestic violence in Palestine, and to address gender norms that reproduce and legitimise violence against women (VAW).

The re-viewed intervention, beginning from 2021 and now half-way, refines RWDS’ support to violence survivors and builds bridges between strategic services and advocacy efforts by collecting solid data on domestic violence in rural areas in order to advo-cate for the adoption of a family law which protects survivors of VAW. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it has been difficult to implement the planned activities, and parts of them have been delayed. Despite this, RWDS have been able to adapt to local cir-cumstances and implement activities reaching a large number of women exposed to or at risk of violence.

The purpose of our RWDS-DANNER intervention is to 1) create a supportive and em-powering environment for women exposed to domestic violence, 2) work compre-hensively with challenging norms that reproduce and legitimize violence, and 3) ad-vocate for the adoption of a family law protecting women victims of violence. RWDS provide group counselling services to women in six rural areas in Hebron and Beth-lehem, offer individual counselling services to women exposed to domestic violence at RWDS Women’s Clubs, and offer awareness raising sessions to women about VAW and how to identify and handle domestic violence. Through these activities, RWDS aim to contribute to a change in knowledge, attitude and behaviour towards violence.

To apply pressure on key stakeholders for the adoption of a new family law, RWDS and DANNER have focused on strengthening RWDS’ advocacy efforts, including up-scaling the systematic collection of data on VAW in Palestine. RWDS have found in-spiration in DANNER’s work throughout the years on strategically collecting and us-ing data on VAW in advocacy efforts, e.g. when advocating for a law criminalising psychological violence, which was adopted in Denmark in 2019. Activities relating to this have included training of RWDS staff on systematic data collection, enhancement of RWDS’ data analysis efforts, as well as advocacy efforts in collaboration with the Palestinian Women’s Rights Network, Al Muntada, of which RWDS is an active mem-ber.

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