Palestinian women who arrive at the Sha’ar Ephraim checkpoint, south of Tulkarm on the way to work inside Israel, report frequent sexual harassment within the area of the checkpoint designated for women only.
Some of the the women who spoke to MAAN and complained about the unbearable situation (they spoke to Wafa Tayara from MAAN on condition of anonymity), dubbed the checkpoint “ma’ata”, a device for plucking the feathers of chickens before slaughter.
According to testimonies we gathered, there are 4 gates in the Checkpoint – three gates are designated for men and one for women. Nevertheless, some men – workers on their way to work in Israel also – join the crowded women’s line in the pre-dawn hours. They take advantage of the darkness and lack of supervision to approach the women, photograph them, touch them against their will, and abuse them verbally. This behavior goes on unchecked within a facility staffed by the Crossing Points Authority of Israel’s Ministry of Defense.
On Tuesday Sep. 6th MAAN sent a letter to the Crossing Points Authority, signed by Wafa Tiara, Women’s Coordinator at MAAN, and Assaf Adiv, the union’s Executive Director. In the letter MAAN demanded that the Manager of the Sha’ar Ephraim Checkpoint take the following steps:
• Place prominent signage that the passage is For Women Only and prohibit men from entering there.
• Place signs prohibiting sexual harassment and making explicit the rights of women.
• Post guards and install cameras.
• Refuse to admit men entering Israel through the women’s gate.
MAAN publicized its appeal to the Israeli Authorities on its Facebook page and also in the local press. In an interview with Radio Nas in Arabic on Sept. 7, Assaf Adiv indicated that women who arrive at the checkpoint in the pre-dawn hours are our sisters and should be respected by co-workers. (a link to the interview in Arabic language is here)
Picture: Muhannad Anati / MAAN