Marriage in the Palestinian territories

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Marriage in the Palestinian territories deals with the marriage law and customs in the State of Palestine, which consist of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Israeli marriage law applies to Israeli settlers in Area C of the West Bank. Unless otherwise stated, the marriage law referred to in this article is Palestinian law.


Personal status issues of Muslims in the Palestinian territories are determined as follows: for Muslims in the West Bank - the 1976 Jordanian law continues to govern personal status issues;[1][2] and for Muslims in the Gaza Strip - personal status law issued during the Egyptian administration of the Strip apply.[3] Muslims in East Jerusalem, which is claimed by both Israel and the Palestinian Authority, have recourse to the law applied in the Israeli shari`a system, which comprises the Ottoman Law of Family Rights as amended by Israeli legislation since 1948. [4]

In the Gaza Strip, the Egyptian-issued Law of Family Rights set puberty as the minimum age of marriage with no marriage allowed for a female aged under 9 or a male aged under 12. The Palestinian Qadi al-Quda issued an administrative decision in 1995 raising these ages to a minimum of 15 for the female and 16 for the male,[5] as in the Jordanian law. All ages are calculated according to the lunar calendar. Marriage registration is mandatory but failure to register does not invalidate the marriage.

Work is reported to be proceeding on the text of a Palestinian personal status law.[citation needed]


Marriage law for Muslims in the State of Palestine is governed by customary law, of the Hanafi school, which explicitly permits polygyny, which is the practice of a husband being permitted to have more than one wife. However, a woman can specify in the marriage contract whether or not her husband can take multiple wives during the couple's marriage, and if the husband does so in violation of that marriage contract then she is free to petition for a divorce.[6] There are also the classical injunctions that a man must treat all co-wives equitably and provide them with separate dwellings, and a man must declare his social status in the marriage contract.[7] Polyandry, whereby a wife has more than one husband, is not permitted. Muslims in East Jerusalem are governed by Israeli law and cannot form polygamous unions.[8] See also Marriage in Israel.

Other Issues[edit]

Violence against women within marriages is a major issue facing women in Palestine. According to a 2005 survey by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, 23.3% of women who had ever been married reported that they had been exposed to physical violence, 61.7% to psychological violence, and 10% to sexual violence.[9] It's estimated that 30% of married women in the West Bank and 50% in Gaza will be exposed to domestic violence, and less than 1% will seek the help of a social worker, a shelter, a civil-society organisation or the police.[10]

In 2008 the Palestinian Police established the Family & Juvenile Protection Unit, tasked with cases of domestic violence and sexual assault.[11] Since the introduction of the FJPU, the number of cases of domestic violence reported to the police have increased dramatically, with 3660 reported in 2013.[12]

Violence against women is especially problematic in Gaza; statistics are generally higher, and the police force in Gaza refrains from publishing statistics about the number of complaints women lodge against their husbands, to deter more women from speaking up.[13] One move to address marriage issue in Gaza has been the adoption of "Mukhtaras", female community leaders able to mediate between families and communities on issues involving women such as marriage, divorce, custody and alimony.[14] The Aisha Association for Woman and Child Protection works to empower vulnerable women and children who are victims of violence.


  1. ^ Jordanian Personal Status Law No 61/1976, promulgated 5 September 1976, and replaced the 1951 Jordanian Law of Family Rights.
  2. ^ The Islamic law of personal status (1986), by Jamal J. Nasir. ISBN 1-85333-280-1. p 34.
  3. ^ Law of Family Rights 1954 (Gaza Strip)
  4. ^ The English Law of Bigamy in a Multi-Confessional Society: The Israel Experience by P Shifman.
  5. ^ Administrative decision no. 78/1995 of the Qadi al-Quda (on the age of marriage- Gaza Strip)
  6. ^ Palestinian Marriage Laws
  7. ^ Laws of Jordan
  8. ^ Penal Law Amendment (Bigamy) Law, 5719-1959.
  9. ^ "Palestinian National Authority Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics Press Conference on the Preliminary Results: Domestic Violence Survey -2005" (PDF). Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 15 March 2016. 
  10. ^ Lukatela, Ana (March 2016). "The Path to Justice for Palestinian Women". This Week In Palestine (215): 27. Retrieved 14 March 2016. 
  11. ^ "Family Protection Unit and Juvenile Unit". Retrieved 15 March 2016. 
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ Abdallah, Said (March 2016). "Mukhtaras: Female Leaders in Tribal Justice". This Week In Palestine (215): 13. Retrieved 14 March 2016.