Hamas Segregates Schools by Gender in Gaza
Hamas which has been ruling the Gaza Strip of Palestine since 2007, passed a new law earlier this month to segregate boys and girls in different schools. The series of controversial steps that the Hamas has been taking also include barring male teachers and male staffers from working at girls’ schools.
The mandate separates classes for boys and girls from the age of nine, and it will take effect starting this September.
Ministry of Education’s legal adviser Walid Mezher told Al Jazeera that the Palestinian education system was “organized before by the Egyptian 1933 education law, which is very outdated. It’s time for Palestinians to have their own modern law that matches their needs”.
Although Christian schools are allowed in Gaza this law will also include the Christian schools, and they will need to make the necessary accommodations to keep the boys and girls separate.
Gaza has 690 schools with 466,000 students and approximately 7% of the schools are private. Total population of the area is 1.7 million.
Hamas has been ruling the Gaza since fighting a brief civil war with its Palestinian rivals, secular Fatah party, in 2007. A year after that conflict it won a surprise majority in Palestinian parliamentary polls.
The political split between Hamas and Fatah paralyzed the legislature and mostly prevented the passing of new laws in Gaza and the West Bank. But Hamas often acted alone to approve the new laws, prompting criticism that it might be trying to build a separate state in Gaza.
Although Hamas leaders have repeatedly denied criticism by human rights groups that they are trying to impose Islamic law in Gaza, rights activists are concerned about the Hamas government’s recent moves, such as imposing Islamic dress on female lawyers and school girls, banning men from working as hairdressers for women and interrogating couples walking in Gaza’s streets.
Gaza Center for Women’s Legal Research and Consulting condemned the decision as gender-based discrimination, stating “Such decisions don’t help to base Palestinian society on equality and justice; neither do they help the Palestinian cause towards national unity”.
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