Custody rights in the Palestinian Sharia Courts between legal pluralism and the best interest of children

Judge Somoud al-Damiri, the first female appointed as the Chief Prosecutor of Personal Status for the Upper Council of Sharia courts, and the first female judge of the Sharia Court of Appeal in Palestine. Judge Somoud Damiri, a women’s rights champion working on the YW4A programme to advocate for legal policy changes, stressed the importance of shedding light on the experiences of abused women systematically deprived of their fundamental rights. She argued that true nation-building cannot occur when women are forced to live in fear and anxiety, expressing her determination to bring about radical social change that ensures equality and justice for Palestinian women. Her stance serves as a potent reminder of the transformative power of the law. She wrote a book, ‘Similar Stories: Wives: the H of Heaven in Hell.’ This powerful exploration delves into the experiences of Palestinian women and their struggles with gender inequality and violence.

This paper argues that Palestinian custody laws are unfair and complex. There are different laws in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem. These laws are outdated and prioritize a child’s age over their well-being. They also discriminate against mothers, especially regarding daughters. The author proposes reforming the laws to create a unified system that prioritizes the child’s best interest and follows international standards

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