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Law, Politics, and Violence Against Women: A Case Study of Palestinians in Israel

NCJ Number
Law & Policy Volume: 21 Issue: 2 Dated: April 1999 Pages: 190-211
Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian
Keith Hawkins, Murray Levine
Date Published
22 pages
The enactment of the Israeli Law Against Family Violence in 1991 was designed to counter wife battering; this article focuses on the utility of this legislation by examining how social control agents (formal and informal) perceive, use, and resist implementation of the law, notably among Palestinians residing in Israel.
The study used a qualitative approach for data collection and analysis in an effort to define the political and cultural issues that must be addressed when dealing with violence against women in Palestinian-Arab society. A survey was conducted of all (n=52) social control agents and professionals in the Galilee districts of Israel who deal with cases of spousal violence. This involved semistructured interviews to determine respondents' perceptions of the use of legal remedies by Palestinians in Israel in cases of wife battering. Of the 52 interviewed, 31 also participated in seven focus groups. Findings show that the social, cultural, and political infrastructure of Palestinian society places constraints on the effective implementation of the new law. Social control agents (including police, judges, health workers, social workers, lawyers, and other key figures) apparently believe that legislators have not taken the cultural-political implications of the law into full consideration. Imposition of the legislation has generated social conflicts between traditional elements (i.e., those who advocate preservation of family privacy) and progressive elements (mostly feminist groups). Findings are presented in terms of the three main factors that were found to hinder or justify resistance to legal intervention in wife battering: sociocultural variables, political legacy, and procedural obstacles. 63 references


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