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Algerian Women, Caught Between an Unjust Legal System and an Unforgiving Society

“A woman is desire and motherhood, and she is a heaven on earth. A woman is life”, with these words, Algerian writer Kamal Daoud expressed his appreciation for women in a television interview with Giselle Khouri last year.

The irony is that Kamal Daoud, a man who proclaims to love women and recognize their value, a renowned author and winner of the prestigious French Prix Goncourt Prize, was sentenced to imprisonment for intentionally beating and injuring his ex-wife with a bladed weapon!

There are many like Kamal Daoud in Algeria, and there are also many women like his ex-wife. According to statistics from Algerian security services, 1,404 women were victims of domestic violence by their husbands in 2022. However, women’s associations in Algeria believe that these numbers do not reflect the reality, as a significant number of women do not report the perpetrators due to their relationship or out of fear of further violence and retaliation.

Terrifying numbers

“The killing of women is a crime ignored by the law,” begins Amal Hajjaj, founder of the Algerian Feminist Newspaper, in her conversation with Raseef22. She says, “Silence is an accomplice to the crime, from all parties, whether it’s from official institutions, public entities, or from society and the mentalities and practices of individuals. For years, we have been condemning this phenomenon. We need a radical solution to eliminate the violence. We will not achieve real protection unless we focus on education.”

Furthermore, women’s organizations have revealed that the rate of violence against women has multiplied by five recently due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Wissal Association for Women and Children, for example, received nearly ten calls per day from abused women during the lockdown. The center’s director stated, “We witnessed a difficult period during the COVID-19 pandemic, which may be attributed to the worsening financial crisis and everyone being confined to their homes.”

Amnesty International had tweeted in the same context, stating that distress calls in 2020 increased due to domestic violence during the lockdown periods caused by the Covid pandemic in Algeria. They called on the authorities to address the issue of discrimination against women in the law. The Femicide Watch Platform in Algeria also recorded the killing of 38 women in 2022.

The announced figures revealed that the rate of violence against women in Algeria has recently multiplied by five compared to previous years

In a previous open letter, Algerian women’s associations and human rights activists proposed urgent and effective solutions to combat violence, prevent femicides, and implement effective legal measures against violence. These solutions include “providing an accurate definition when considering criminal practices of rape and violence, enacting provisions to protect witnesses from the risks of arbitrary retaliatory acts, issuing a comprehensive law to combat violence against women, and repealing Article 326 of the Penal Code, which allows rapists to escape punishment if they marry their victims.”

This is also echoed by the EuroMed Human Rights Network, as it published in a previous report that “the Algerian penal code, which was amended in 2015, contains misleading aspects that allow the subjugation of women. The ‘condition of pardon’ clause allows the perpetrator to evade criminal prosecution when officially forgiven by the victim before the courts. Consequently, Algerian women who are victims of murder are left to face their fate gradually due to the lack of national legal protection from potential aggressors.”

Source : Reseef22