The brutal killing of a battered wife in front of horrified witnesses in an open-air Bethlehem market has prompted angry accusations that Palestinian police and courts ignore violence against women.
Nancy Zaboun, a 27-year-old mother of three, had her throat slashed on Monday after seeking a divorce from her abusive husband of 10 years.
On Wednesday, several dozen women staged a memorial for Zaboun in the Bethlehem market alley where she was killed, holding signs and chanting, “No to violence against women.” One sign read, “Shame on us Palestinians for killing our women.”
The husband was arrested at the scene and is the prime suspect, West Bank officials said. The case reverberated across Palestinian society because of the brutality of the attack. However, violence against women continues to be overlooked, as in other parts of the Arab world, and women’s rights activists say abusive husbands are rarely punished.
Zaboun was regularly beaten by her husband, 32-year-old Shadi Abedallah, at times so severely that she had to be hospitalised, said Khaula al-Azraq, who runs a West Bank counselling centre where Zaboun sought help.
Even so, Abedallah was never arrested. Police only made him sign pledges he would stop hitting his wife, said Azraq, adding that Abedallah himself is a former police officer.
Zaboun was killed after attending a hearing in her divorce case. She was walking on the steep paths of an open-air market, not far from the Church of the Nativity, marking the traditional birthplace of Jesus, when she was fatally slashed.
Zaboun was married at age 17, and the couple have three children, aged eight, six and three. Azraq said the beatings began immediately after the wedding.