Sabeel Women’s Visit to the Women’s Centre for Legal Aid &
Counseling (WCLAC) in Ramallah & the Village of Nabi Saleh
8 November 2012
On November 8, some Women of Sabeel went to learn about the work of WCLAC. The centre, established in 1991, is an independent Palestinian non-governmental organization that seeks to assist in the development of a democratic Palestinian society based on principles of equality and social justice between men and women. WCLAC has played a prominent role in addressing gender-based violence in Palestinian society in both private and public spheres.
Upon the women’s arrival, Mrs. Salwa Duaibis, Director of WCLAC’s Documentation and Advocacy Unit welcomed them and spoke about her role in advocacy. She described some of the challenges faced by Palestinians living under occupation as seen through the eyes of ordinary women – ordinary women struggling to cope with an extraordinary situation. She shared with the participants the story of a 21-year-old Christian Palestinian woman from Jerusalem, explaining how the woman’s freedom of movement and right to practice her religion have been restricted by Israeli government policies.
Mrs. Rawan Obeid, WCLAC staff, shared some background with the women on Civil Status Law for Christians and Muslims, Inheritance Law, and Penal Laws throughout the last ten years, after which she explained how the Centre’s legal and social services address related needs. She gave an overview of the different kinds of cases that WCLAC receives and the procedures taken for each. Explaining the importance of documenting each case, she presented one of the success stories as an example. A vibrant discussion followed, as participants were asked to share some of their personal experiences.
The women then watched the film “Gandhi,” which follows the life of Ghandi from 1898 to 1947, also examining the political history and struggles of late colonial India. This film is a powerful tribute to the effectiveness of non-violent resistance, especially when many people unite together to accomplish it.
Later, the Sabeel group visited a Palestinian family in the village of Nabi Saleh, located about 20 kilometers northwest of Ramallah. Nabi Saleh’s residents have hosted weekly demonstrations for the past three years, protesting the confiscation of the village’s lands and the illegal takeover of their spring by Halamish, the nearby Israeli settlement. One of the family members told the women that there are regular clashes with the Israeli Army during the protests, as the Israeli Army attempts to disperse crowds with teargas, skunk water, rubber bullets, and sound grenades. Having listened to the family’s story, the women ate lunch together with the family before heading back to Jerusalem.