Empower women and girls, support survivors through adequate services so that they can rebuild their lives and stop violence from reoccurring

Standing up for survivors in the Shari’a court every day: Ayah al-Wakil is determined to leave no woman behind

Ayah al-Wakil, a lawyer working at the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights in Gaza Strip. Photo: UN Women/Eunjin Jeong
Ayah al-Wakil, a lawyer working at the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights in Gaza Strip. Photo: UN Women/Eunjin Jeong

Ayah al-Wakil is a lawyer working at the Palestine Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) in Gaza Strip and works in the Shari’a court. In Palestine, the Shari’a court deals with family matters codified in the Personal Status Law relating to marriage, divorce, child custody and inheritance. Going to the Shari’a court every day to file cases on behalf of survivors of violence has been her morning routine since 2015. She lives to empower others.

“If you find yourself in a place that allows you to make a real difference in other women’s lives, obstacles will not stop you anymore,” she says.

Although al-Wakil’s day is full, preparing legal documents and going to court, she always makes time to talk to women who need her. Faten Ashour* is one of the women who regularly visit al-Wakil, even after her divorce was finalized with al-Wakil’s help. Finally free from her 13-year abusive marriage, Ashour is now preparing to finish high school.

“I was very scared and tense before my first appointment with Ayah,” recalls Ashour, who had experienced a series of obstacles at the court before meeting al-Wakil.

“Ayah was different from other people that I met in the court. She listened to me and respected me,” she added.

Gone is the woman who kept things to herself and stayed silent when facing injustice. Faten Ashour now speaks up for herself and tries to encourage other women, including her sisters, to seek help when in abusive situations. Read more►

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