Palestinians - Marriage and Family

Marriage. Palestinians are, generally speaking, monogamous, although polygyny is sanctioned by Islam. Marriages are normally determined by families, but, increasingly, individual choice is accepted. Statistics for the 1931 census indicate that early marriages were rare. The average age of marriage within the Muslim community was 20 years for women and 25 for men. Until around the mid-twentieth century, the preferred match, in both the Christian and Muslim communities, was between first cousins.

Domestic Unit. Postmarital residence is patrilocal. A woman returns to her natal unit only in the event of divorce or widowhood. The authority of the male head of the family is exercised over matters of marital, educational, and occupational choice despite frequent geographic separation of members of the nuclear family. Grandparents and unmarried aunts and uncles frequently share the domestic unit. Women rarely establish independent places of residence.

Inheritance. Muslim law regulates division of the estate and does not ignore female members of the family. Land is divided equally among surviving males, but females inherit half of the male's share because they are not expected to support the family. Among the indigenous Christian population, inheritance customs are not regulated by church law and often mirror Muslim customs.

Socialization. Children are socialized by various generations within the household, commonly along gender lines. The socialization of Palestinian children encourages a commitment to education and to family solidarity.

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