Earlier this month, Hamas released a new set of restrictions that will sex segregate co-ed classrooms in Gaza. The law passed by Hamas, the Islamic group that rules the Palestinian territory, states that classes must be divided by gender beginning at age nine and also bans male teachers from girls’ schools. Government run schools within Gaza have previously been separated by gender. The law will take effect with the new academic year in September and is expected to mostly effect private institutions, including the few Christian and international schools in Gaza.

A member of the education committee and Hamas lawmaker, Yousef Al-Sherafi, said in an interview: “This law is a safety valve for our national principles… One male staffer among 20 female teachers in a girls’ school would not allow our sisters to feel comfortable.”

The Center for Women’s Legal Research and Consulting, the only legal-aid organization for women in Gaza, warned that the law is “based on a culture of discrimination against women, by reinforcing gender separation which takes our society back to ancient times when there was no respect for women’s rights and women were eliminated from public life.”

Media Resources: Associated Press 4/3/2013; New York Times 4/1/2013; Reuters 4/1/2013

Gaza Map from Shutterstock