News / Middle East

Hamas Law Promotes Gender Segregation in Gaza Schools

Palestinian students attend class at al-Taea school in Khan Younis, southern Gaza strip, Aug. 23, 2009.
Palestinian students attend class at al-Taea school in Khan Younis, southern Gaza strip, Aug. 23, 2009.
Reuters
New rules from the Education Ministry of the Islamist Hamas movement ruling the Gaza Strip will bar men from teaching at girls' schools and mandate separate classes for boys and girls from the age of nine.

The law, published on Monday, would go into effect next school year and applies throughout the coastal enclave, including in private, Christian-led and United Nations schools.

Critics of the new measures say the Islamist movement is trying to force its ideology on society, but proponents say they merely want to codify conservative Palestinian values into law.

"We are a Muslim people. We do not need to make people Muslims, and we are doing what serves our people and their culture,'' Waleed Mezher, the Education Ministry's legal adviser, told Reuters.

Hamas has administered Gaza since fighting a brief civil war with its Palestinian rivals in the secular Fatah party in 2007, a year after it won a surprise majority in Palestinian parliamentary polls.

The political split paralyzed the legislature and mostly prevented the passing of new laws in Gaza and the West Bank.

But Hamas parliamentarians in Gaza acted alone to approve the new education law, and the movement's critics have for years accused it of trying to build a separate state in Gaza.

Zeinab Al-Ghoneimi, a Gaza activist for women's rights, said the new law was part of a Hamas project to impose its values on Gaza residents.

"To say that the old law did not respect the community's traditions and that they [Hamas] wanted to reform people now is an insult to the community,'' Ghoneimi told Palestinian radio.

"Instead of hiding behind traditions, why don't they say clearly they are Islamists and they want to Islamize the community,'' she said.

 Private and Christian schools, where classes are mixed until high school, would be the most affected by the decision. Gaza's government-run schools were already mostly gender-segregated.

The Gaza Education Ministry said the private schools had been invited to discuss the legislation before it was enacted but failed to do so.

Hamas leaders have repeatedly denied accusations by human rights groups they are trying to impose Islamic laws on Gaza.

Rights activists have criticized moves by Hamas's government in recent years to impose Islamic dress on female lawyers and school girls, ban men from working as hairdressers for women and interrogate couples walking in Gaza's streets.

You May Like

In China, Mixed Signals on Ebola Controls

How authorities are monitoring at-risk individuals remains unclear, including whether there are quarantines for Chinese health workers returning from West Africa More

Video Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Elections

Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Electionsi
X
October 31, 2014 4:10 AM
Public opinion polls show American voters are deeply dissatisfied with their government and anxious about threats from abroad. This is especially true for a key voting group both Republicans and Democrats are trying hard to win over: women. Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats, with majority control of the Senate at stake. VOA’s Cindy Saine looks at the crucial role women voters will play in deciding the elections.
Video

Video Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Elections

Public opinion polls show American voters are deeply dissatisfied with their government and anxious about threats from abroad. This is especially true for a key voting group both Republicans and Democrats are trying hard to win over: women. Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats, with majority control of the Senate at stake. VOA’s Cindy Saine looks at the crucial role women voters will play in deciding the elections.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid