Legal Work

The legal program was established at Kayan in 2006, with the goal of increasing Palestinian women’s access to justice, advancing their legal status, and ending rights violations against them within legal and judiciary institutions.

Personal Status Rights


Since 2006 Kayan has been working to secure and advance the personal status rights of Palestinian women in Israel. Personal status refers to a woman’s rights as related to family law, and can include but is not limited to: divorce law, child custody, alimony, inheritance, and assets. For Palestinian women in Israel, personal status law is a complicated matter. In Israel, there are both civil and religious courts that have overlapping jurisdiction over many areas of personal status. Each religious group has their own court system, with its own procedures, regulations, and laws. Thus, there are separate courts for each of the 12 Christian denominations, Islamic courts, Druze courts, and Rabbinical courts. In 1995, Israel first introduced secular family courts into the judiciary system, but these courts were only accessible for Jewish women. Kayan was part of a long-term advocacy process for opening the civil family courts to Palestinian women, and we finally succeeded in our efforts in 2000. Despite the fact that civil family courts now exist for Palestinian women, the religious courts are still the ruling authority over marriage and divorce, as there is still no civil marriage within Israel. Both the religious court systems and civil family courts continue to maintain patriarchal and gender-discriminatory laws, procedures, and perspectives. Thus, Kayan has created a personal status program that seeks to dismantle gender-discrimination in religious and civil courts and secure the personal status rights of Palestinian women. This work is based on three levels of intervention which include:

three levels of intervention

1. Free Legal Hotline

2. Awareness-raising and Education

3. Advocacy