“I was in the middle of my period and reached an unbearable mental state – I ran out of pads and was ashamed to ask the prison guard for more. I didn’t know what language to speak to her in or how. I was also ashamed because I was uncomfortable speaking with her about my intimate needs.” From the testimony of a released Palestinian woman prisoner, Damon Prison, 2008
In the course of the last 48 years more than 10,000 Palestinian women have been arrested under military law. This report examines, based on their testimonies, the conditions under which these women are detained by the security forces on national security grounds, paying special attention to their needs as women, as Palestinians and as prisoners. It evaluates the lawfulness of the policy vis-à-vis Palestinian women prisoners through the lenses of Israeli and international law – human rights law and occupation law – to which Israeli is obligated, and compares these obligations to the situation in practice.
Holding conditions are examined in light of women’s unique needs and rights, including the lack of gender sensitivity on matters of medical treatment, hygienic necessities and gynecological requirements. These conditions are also evaluated in light of the needs and rights men and women share, such as rights during interrogation and family visitation rights. The intention is to spotlight the unique situation of Palestinian women prisoners and the double burden they bear: being Palestinian women in an oppressive Israeli prison system, and being women in a patriarchal environment controlling their fates. The report ends with conclusions and recommendations.