Illegitimate Orphans in Gaza on the Rise

By Ola al-Madhoun – Gaza

A human rights organization in Gaza released a report showing a rise in the number of children abandoned in Gaza and warned that the problem of abandoned and illegitimate children holds grave consequences for Palestinian society.

According to statistics issued by the Gaza-based al-Dameer Association for Human Rights, 165 cases of illegitimate children have been reported since 1993, eight of them are in 2008 alone. Rising poverty and unemployment along the social and psychological pressure of living under occupation – and since January an Israeli blockade.

In a statement al-Dameer called for eliminating the phenomenon but also called for respecting the rights of those children and helping them become efficient members of society by encouraging families to adopt them.
Social Ostracism

Just last month the police found an orphan and delivered him to Mabaret al-Rahma orphanage, the orphanage director, Moemen Barakat, told

Barakat noted that after the child is accepted by an orphanage the hospital and the Ministry of Health issue a birth certificate with fictitious parent names. The orphanage then becomes responsible for all the child’s expenses.

Children from illegitimate relations face social ostracism, so many countries issue birth certificates phony parent names instead of leaving it blank to help them lead a more normal life.

Psychiatrist Fadl Abou-Hayen attributed this rising rates of illegitimate orphans to a cultural change brought by Gazans who lived in liberal societies as well as the recession of the family’s role and the subsequent laxity in adhering to values.

He said the tribal community characteristic of Gaza means that “everyone knows everyone” and thus knows the parentage status of children, which can cause problems in a conservative society.

"The media has an effect, too," Abou-Hayen told "Licentious movies arouse people and encourage them to fall prey to vice."
Social Norms and Adoption

Sex outside marriage in not permissible in Muslim societies so resulting children are often placed in orphanages by their parents or abandoned. In many cases children have been found in the streets, especially at mosques.

Many illegitimate children in the Arab world are also a result of temporary marriages like motaa (pleasure) and mesyar (convenience) marriages.

Adoption is a possibility but is conditional upon proof that one of the foster parents is incapable of having children, said Barakat. The couple must own a house and have the means to support the child.

According to the U.S. State Department, the Palestinian Authority opposes adoption by foreign parents since Palestinian children must remain in Palestine.

"We also have to make sure of the psychological factor. We took many kids back after they were mistreated," he said.

Islam encourages adoption only in the case of orphans and even then the term used – kafala – means guardianship, indicating that the child does not formally become part of the family and is thus not able to inherit from the foster family.

(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid. Originally published in

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  1. i want to adopt a child in palesrtine who is muslim and i live in the USA and i hope you can email me

    • Salaam Sonya,
      Please google Islamic Relief USA and check out their website. You can sponsor a child through there. Hope this helps.

  2. I would one day like to adopt a child, although I am Canadian and an atheist. But I have always felt so sorry for the suffering of the Palestinians. While I am not Muslim, I would expose a Palestinian child to their religion of their country, history etc. I guess it’s out of the question, though, right?

    • Hi Kat,
      It’s people like you who open their eyes to the truth and feel for the immense suffering of the Palestinians that give me hope in this world! You do so without sharing much (or any) of their beliefs or background. You do that because you realise they’re human too!

      Personally, being a Muslim and a believer is what makes me be a able to lay my head on my pillow and drift off to sleep after seeing all these images of the horrendous crimes that the Israelis are committing daily against innocent civilians in Gaza. I whole-heartedly believe that the day will come when justice will prevail and everyone will get what they deserve!

      Check out Islamic Relief Australia- orphan sponsorship.

  3. Hello, it is overwhelming the suffering of the palestinian people and the risks in lives that they are facing.
    Would you mind letting me know how is the process to adopt an orphan please?. I am currently living in Australia.
    Thank you very much and looking forward from your response.

    • Hi Ana,

      Please check out the orphan sponsorship section of Islamic Relief Australia.

      Actually, I don’t know how easy the process of having the orphan come to live with you is. I know many orphans stay with their relatives in refugee camps while others stay at orphanages built and maintained by organisations like the one I cited and others. The way you’d help is by agreeing to transfer a certain amount of money that they specify to that specific orphan monthly or yearly. Please check out more details on the organisation’s website. Hope this helps!

  4. I am Muslim Egyption. I live in NJ, USA. I want to adopt a child from Gaza,palestine.
    Please contact me by e-email
    Thank you please let’s help these kids.

  5. I am from Mauritius. I want to adopt a child from Gaza. Please contact me as soon as possible. Thank you

  6. hello , i am 11 years old and i want to help Palestinians , i am Muslim al7emdella , i want to do a symbolic adoption like i just pay money and she buys clothes , food etc for herself until she gets big and can take care of her self , you may be wondering how i would get money actually i sell cupcakes and stuff and i will give her every month she can send me letters and pictures of her growing and i may visit her . but i don’t know where i can adopt can you help me?

    PS : i am currently living at Bahrain .

  7. Salam,I’m Muslim and live in Canada.I have two children(boys,8 and 5 years old) and my husband and I are thinking of adopting a girl.Is there any possibility for us to it?
    Thank you.

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