Institute of Law holds legal encounter on women working in justice, security

Birzeit University’s Institute of Law in Gaza held a legal encounter on May 18, 2022, to discuss the status of women who work in the justice and security sectors. The event featured Mohammed Suleiman Shubeir, associate professor of administrative law at Al-Azhar University.

Bringing together lawyers, legal experts and female police officers, the symposium highlighted the importance of women holding roles in these sectors.

Shubeir discussed the importance of women’s presence in the justice sector in Gaza, as they better understand other women’s needs and ensure equal access to justice.

In the symposium, Shubeir first emphasized the role of women in security sectors to ensure that women in abuse situations have better access to justice. Women, according to Shubeir, deal more favorably with other women who have faced gender-based violence by ensuring their privacy, making them feel comfortable and advocate that the abuser be held accountable.

Shubeir indicated that women represent only a small part of police service, and that there is an urgent need for women to have a more active role in security professions, especially in the family support and family protection units.

Exploring the role of women as public prosecutors, Shubeir said that there are 75 male public prosecutors, but no females. The active role of women in public prosecution is a key requirement for achieving justice in gender-based cases, he continued.

Shubeir assured that women can contribute to more informed prosecutions and a better understanding of crimes that target women.

In Shubeir’s final point, he explored the important role of women in the judiciary system for equal visibility. The procedures for applying for judicial office have made it difficult for women to be appointed as judges. Women, continued Shubeir, are absent from courts. Court proceedings are critical, as they culminate in decisive judgements, which put an end to disputes and cases. Women are therefore deprived of their rights in cases to which they are party. Female judges may provide crucial support to women.

Dr. Shubeir pointed out that the very low presence of women in the justice sector can be attributed to Gaza’s patriarchal society and the way advertisements for judicial posts are drafted. In addition to the religious nature of the community, the public tends to favor an informal (tribal) judicial system. This was a key reason why women often refrain from applying for judicial posts at legal facilities.

Many interventions and recommendations were made during the discussion. Most importantly, women’s access to justice must be consolidated by putting in place mandatory constitutional provisions. Effective laws should be amended to preserve the rights of women, including complainants, addressees of complaints, litigants and defendants. This will enable women to defend themselves and make statements in full freedom, without hesitation. As a result, women will be strongly visible throughout justice sector facilities. When they defend themselves during particular cases, women should be heard by fellow women on issues of privacy and gender.