Women under Occupation


“When you look at conflict zones, in all conflict zones, you see that the more militarized our spaces and our places, the more violence against women increases. . . .  This constant anxiety and uncertainty, living in constant uncertainty changes the entire life, especially of a woman. . . .  Domestic violence increases, patriarchal, masculine violence increases, economic violence against women increases.  Health conditions – this is another kind of violence that increases.  The issue of education — when you are really affecting women’s choices, women’s access to education, women’s abilities to develop, you are affecting everything.  There is a kind of necropolitics: Israel is controlling life and death. . . .  The issue of housing demolitions.  Have you ever looked at the way such demolitions are affecting women’s lives, women’s bodies, women’s abilities to develop?  The attack on the Palestinian home is something that did not start today, but the attack on the Palestinian home is so open today — when you hit the home, you change the entire social fabric, you change the entire relationship of the entire family.  You change the interaction, you change children’s perception towards the parents, you change the relationship between the father and the mother, and definitely you change women’s status. . . .  When there is no legal system, there is no system of social control, women are in jeopardy.  Vulnerable groups are always in jeopardy.  We are not just talking about domestic violence.  You look at vulnerable groups such as the elderly, kids that have special needs, all those groups, the marginalized groups, are really in jeopardy, under the conditions that are all militarized and all violated. . . .  If you look at the extended family, the extended family used to be social support to a woman in case of violence against her.  Today there is no access to the extended family.  So, if a woman who lives for example in Bitunia cannot reach her parents in Ramallah, or cannot reach her parents in Jerusalem, how is she going to get support?  How?  If the state system is not functioning, and the family system is not functioning, and the informal system is not functioning, who could prevent abusers from further abusing women?  Nobody.  What we are doing is not only not helping women — we are encouraging abusers because we are telling them, well, you could do whatever you want.  There’s no police, there’s no court system, there’s no family to ask for help, there’s no place to go.  This is the kind of trap that I’m saying definitely encourages patriarchal power holders to feel more empowered. . . .  You are constantly reminded that you are persona non grata.  They are controlling who should live, who should die, how should we live, and whether, at all, to exist. . . .  I know my daily fight is not really helping, but fight we must.” — Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian, Women’s Studies Project Director at Mada al-Carmel and author of Militarization and Violence against Women in Conflict Zones in the Middle East

“When there is poverty, when there is a very high rate of unemployment, when there is political instability and there are many checkpoints, closures, all the situations are the situations in which there is a tension inside the family. . . .  Because of the segregation wall, because of checkpoints, because of the bad economic situation, instability also affects, a lot, the chances to be given for women, and for men too, to have a life like people in any other country. . . .  The Mehwar Center has played a very big role, giving this chance to abused women, because in the beginning they didn’t have anybody or a place to go to and be sheltered.  Most of the time, we have also seen families don’t support them because our culture doesn’t give them their rights.  You can’t leave abuse behind and have another life.  All the time they are oppressed and they are blamed and they are considered the ones that made trouble.  This is a patriarchal culture and society. . . .  The legal situation in Palestine is a very complicated situation.  Because Palestine didn’t have real independence, it was all the time occupied by many, by the Ottomans, the British, colonization, so the laws that the Palestinian Authority now has are very weak laws.  The Palestinians didn’t write, weren’t able to write, their own laws.  In the criminal law, there are actually many, many materials that oppress women and don’t give them their rights and all the time give support to men because it was written for men and they didn’t consider at any time that women have rights.” — Saida Atrash, Director of the Mehwar Center

Produced by the Alternative Information Center.  The text above is an edited transcript of the video.

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