French Press Agency Posts Info-Graphic With False & Defamatory Claims About Palestine

Agence France-Presse has recently posted a info-graphic on discrimination against women.
The info-graphic caption: In 15 countries, women can’t get a job without their husband’s permission.
Wow- how horrible is it that a woman must get her husband’s permission to work! Included in the 15 countries is West Bank and Gaza (which AFP refuses to acknowledge as Palestine). As a married woman in Gaza I have never heard of such a law and was taken aback when I looked at the post by AFP. Could it be true?
Here is the false accusation:click here for link to direct page.:

Source: @AFP

Source: @AFP

I quickly made a few phone calls to legal experts here and was given this startling answer: NO SUCH LAW EXISTS.
Could AFP really have posted such a blatant lie? Not content with the answers I was given by the experts I decided to do a little research myself. The following is what I learned:
An excerpt from the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Labor Section 7 on women’s rights in the workplace gives no hint of such a requirement. In fact in is pretty much the opposite!

PA Labor Law

PA Labor Law

Take a closer look at the actual law from the Palestinian Labor Ministry

Chapter Two
General Provisions and Principles
Article 2
Work is a right for every citizen who is able to do so.
The Palestinian Authority
works toward providing it on the basis of equal opportunities and without any kind
of discrimination.

Interesting: it says every citizen has the right to work. No mention of married women needing permission from husbands.

Both Articles 9 and 25 of the Palestine Basic Law affirms equality for everyone.

Palestine Basic Law- our Constitution

Palestine Basic Law- our Constitution

Could AFP really have gotten it so wrong? A little more research brought me to the UN page.
In September of 2011 the United Nations Development Programme released a study on women’s rights in Palestine entitled A Review of Palestinian Legislation from a Women’s Rights Perspective.
Nowhere in the 37 pages is reference to the ‘law’ Agence France-Presse and John Saeki claims to exist. I find it odd that a full report on women’s rights and legislation would fail to confront this so-called law. A full section on labor laws for women including general recommendations by the UNDP doesn’t even HINT at the supposed discrimination suggested by AFP and John Saeki. Here are the recommendations:

General recommendations by the UN.

General recommendations by the UN.

Am I saying the treatment of women here are 100% equal to that of men? Absolutely not! Find me a country where it is though. I have lived and worked in the US and have experienced gender based discrimination personally.

I find it offensive AFP and John Saeki make false claims against Palestine and urge them to look into the matter and offer a retraction and apology. One can only wonder as to what their true motive really was.

A big thank you to @Yasmeena_Hedaya and @leomonte63 who brought this info-graphic to my attention!

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8 responses to “French Press Agency Posts Info-Graphic With False & Defamatory Claims About Palestine

  1. very good research done by the owner of the blog
    and author of the text – but what was done about
    so far to contest information (false) France Press ??

    • Agence Presse France responded to me in a tweet. They said the information was from a World Bank document which I reviewed and it does include the false information. Apparently Agence Presse-France does not fact check. I offered to supply them with the actual legal documents and they have not yet replied.

  2. Hello,
    This is John Saeki. I thought I should reply personally, seeing as you’ve named me several times in your blog post.

    I’m sorry that this infographic has offended you, but I can assure you that singling out one place for criticism is far from the point of the graphic. The graphic is not about Palestine, as you say in the headline of your blog, but it is about sex-discrimination around the world.

    We made it because it showed interesting and topical information that was newly published by a reputable source. Jim Yong Kim, World Bank Group president, was quoted in the launch of the report saying, “our latest edition of Women, Business and the Law shows that many societies have made progress… Yet a great deal remains to be done.” The graphic focuses on some areas that “remain to be done.”

    The World Bank Group is an important source of global stories throughout the year for media worldwide. In general I believe it’s reasonable to trust their research in official publications, including their data on social and economic indicators.

    With that in mind we looked with interest at a new report published on September 24: “Women, Business and the Law 2014” http://wbl.worldbank.org/~/media/FPDKM/WBL/Documents/Reports/2014/Women-Business-and-the-Law-2014-Key-Findings.pdf

    On p16 it says this:
    “In 15 of the 143 economies covered by Women, Business and
    the Law, husbands can prevent their wives from working.”

    It struck me that this was a powerful statement that looked at sex discrimination in a way that I’d never seen framed before.

    The 15 economies are listed in a table on the same page, and West Bank & Gaza is included, along with 14 other places.

    We also used the data on the 29 countries where women cannot be listed as head of household. We showed these on the map — demonstrating its global scope from Chile to the Philipines, but didn’t list out those country names for lack of space.

    We built up the graphic with additional information we had used previously, including from a different source, The World Economic Forum, rating countries for equal opportunities. 36 countries are listed in that chart.

    In the fourth section of the graphic we presented the finding that 79 countries restricted the kind of work women can do. We singled out Russia where interesting examples had been listed in the report.

    So as you can see, the graphic really has a global scope.

    My understanding of “Women, Business and the Law 2014” is that it highlights any regulations written into law that restricts women’s economic activity. Of course it is possible that other regulations can practically counteract the effects of older laws, but it’s still worth pointing out what remains on record.

    I believe that the methodology used in the report is transparent and sound as set out in http://wbl.worldbank.org/methodology where the authors state:

    “To condense such a large volume of disparate information, broadly based legal questions were posed to local legal experts to determine in what areas women and men have the same or different rights. In addition to survey data from local legal experts, the Women, Business and the Law project also consulted constitutions, gender equality laws, marriage and family codes, labor and employment laws, passport procedures, citizenship rules, inheritance statutes, tax regulations and social security codes to determine the sources of gender differentiation in the law.”

    Finally, I think sexism is a global problem and any credible way to measure, record and report it should be welcomed.

    I hope this will at least convince you of my true motives that you question.

    John Saeki

    • Thank you for the reply. I recognise that sexism is a problem world wide. My concern is with the false information that is included in your info-graohic. I suggest you fact check next time to avoid the embarrassment of using false information. I am more than happy to provide you with the specific laws in Palestine for you to review should you wish to correct your mistake. Palestine has been the recipient of false claims many times before and it is my duty as a citizen to confront it and correct misconceptions about this wonderful country. Your motive might be honorable but to include false allegations sadly you have only succeeded in discrediting yourself.
      Thank you
      Sally Idwedar

  3. Pingback: French Press Agency Posts Defamatory and False Info-Graphic About Palestine | Incredulities of World

  4. Sally, you should consider a question: in most
    countries there are many laws that are not enforced,
    perhaps this is the case of the palestinian woman – there
    law giving it freedom to work (or, otherwise there is no law preventing it from work) – but in practice,
    may be that none of this is considered, each
    family or husband, decide on what the woman should do…
    i mean, may be then that the World Bank study
    has been done with other organizations
    and not based on the laws of Palestine… what you think ?
    bye for now… a hug from Brazil … all my love for Palestine !!!

    • That is a good point however I have read not only current Palestinian laws but also those from Jordan which were enforced until 1967- nothing about husbands being able to say a woman can’t work. In the marriage contract IF both parties agree- a man can stipulate a woman won’t work just as a woman can stipulate the man MUST do certain things or provide a certain life- but that is in the marriage contract only. Both parties MUST agree and sign of the contract is not valid. It is similar to a pre-nuptial agreement. It is up to the couple to decide b4 marriage or they won’t marry.
      I just wish the World Bank had researched the laws like I did.
      Peace to you and Brasil from Gaza.

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