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Don't hit women unless they deserve it, says Abbas adviser

Amid a Palestinian Authority campaign to stop violence against woman, the prime minister’s adviser on Islam has affirmed Islam allows husbands to beat their wives if they are disobedient.

Mahmoud Al-Habbash, adviser to President Mahmoud Abbas, said Allah “has permitted a certain type of beating.”

“It is good for society and good for the woman and the man,” he said.

Palestinian Media Watch reported the remarks came were made on official Palestinian Authority TV at the same time the broadcaster was promoting messages such as “No to violence against women” and “There is no authority that gives men the right to attack women.”

PMW said the public campaign discouraging violence against women was run during the “16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence,” which called for an end to violence against women and girls.

It began Nov. 25 on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and ended Dec. 10, Human Rights Day.

“While this campaign was running and teaching that it is never acceptable to hit women, Abbas’ adviser Mahmoud Al-Habbash explained on official PA TV that there are situations in which men are allowed to beat women. In fact, it is even good for the women.”

He said Allah permits this when women are disobedient.

“The one and only situation, which is very limited and very rare, in which a man is permitted to beat in a way that doesn’t harm, doesn’t injure, avoids the face, and doesn’t cause strong pain – is the situation of disobedience,” he said. “Only a situation of the woman’s disobedience. The disobedient woman, the woman who is out of line, the woman who destroys the bonds of marriage, and the bonds of home and family. Aside from this, any type of beating, injuring, and cursing of the woman constitutes a forbidden act.”

PMW commented, “While Al-Habbash defends the practice, saying it is ‘rare,’ the categories of women who may be beaten that he himself describes are so general that he opens the door for ongoing abuse.”