Women’s Peace Force – A Palestine Perspective (19 May, 2021)

Jai Jagat Blog May 19, 2021

“The pandemic exacerbates our problems.”

(written before the recent Israel-Palestine conflict)

 Why Education Is So Important Right Now

By Sumaya Farhat-Naser

The situation of women in Palestine is closely linked to the political situation – and it has worsened in recent years. Likewise, the economic situation. It’s about survival, especially in times of the corona pandemic. According to statistical surveys for 2020, 76 percent of the Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem and 83.4 percent of the children there live below the poverty line. The poor economic situation leads to many socio-cultural problems and plagues, including dropping out of school, violence, early marriage and an increase in honor killings. The pandemic has exacerbated all of these problems. Violence is increasing everywhere, especially in the family, against women and girls.

Twenty percent of women in the West Bank and 30 percent of women in Gaza marry before they are 18 years old. Early marriage is a strategy to overcome poverty, to reduce family expenses and shift responsibility from father to husband. Very young women are more prone to violence because they are not yet able to cope with married life and do not know how to deal with their husbands and many other problems. They marry before they have finished their childhood – and without enjoying their right to education, their right to work and their right to choose their partner. Due to the housing shortage and poverty, they live with their husband’s extended family after they get married. There is no privacy, and the young women often remain strangers in these families.

In addition, honor killings have increased. Girls and women are being killed on the pretext of saving family honor. Last year 24 girls and women were murdered in the West Bank and 18 in Gaza because they were suspected of having a love affair or of wanting to marry a man without the approval of the family. In the case of incest rape by relatives and acquaintances, the girls are also killed in order to hide the crime and to save the perpetrator. The police do not interfere, but rather regard the issue as a cultural custom and an internal family matter.

The occupation policy and the proclamation of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel by then US President Donald Trump in 2018 have heightened socio-political tensions. So also the progressive annexation of further areas in the West Bank: Israel creates facts regarding house demolitions and land grabbing. Even during the pandemic. Many Palestinians no longer have access to their own property. The Arab residents of East Jerusalem also suffer from political imprisonment, residency restrictions, infrastructure restrictions and corporate licensing.

There are other things: In East Jerusalem drug addicts, like those affected in West Jerusalem, are financially supported by the Israeli social security if they are undergoing therapy. In return, however, the women or mothers of addicts in East Jerusalem are obliged by the insurance company to perform certain services – for example in the care of the elderly or in the cleaning service.

Unlike in East Jerusalem, children in the West Bank are allowed to be arrested if they take part in protests or quarrels – sometimes even if they just happen to be there during riots. Children aged 8-14 are then placed under house arrest for several months. Specifically, this means that your mothers have to take on the role of prison guard. By attaching an alarm system to the house and a tape on the child’s foot, the police secure control over the family, who have to pay a heavy fine if orders are n This constellation brings with it great social and psychological problems; it is a burden on the mother-child relationship and the whole family. Some children are punished twice if they are detained with relatives instead of at home. Many children cannot go to school after this period of detention. They lose their prospects for the future. Their mothers are also trapped in this situation. Deep anger and feelings of guilt arise because they can neither protect nor promote their children.

Our women’s centers and organizations continue to work on these serious problems. Often the first thing to do is to convey an awareness of the personal rights of women and girls. Many women suffer from the patriarchal system, but are at the same time shaped by these customs and traditions. When I speak in women’s groups about topics such as gender equality, legislative reform or free future decisions, it becomes clear again and again how deeply rooted elements of oppression are in the attitudes and convictions of some women. It is shocking to hear how they even affirm honor killings. How they advocate marrying very young girls or the use of violence against women who disobey their husbands or who make their own decisions that then do not suit the father, brother or husband. But education can open their eyes and hearts. Often times they are shocked at themselves because they realize how trapped they are. It is liberating for many women to rethink these things, to feel them anew and to dare to understand them in a different way. Upbringing and education are the keys to positive change and liberation. To this end, we try to give women the strength to act, to motivate them to actively change structures.

When we work with young people, we want to give them orientation and make them aware of the great importance of education and qualification. In view of the political conflicts and the occupation situation, they should also learn to actively protect themselves: from anger, anger and pain. It is about always striving for peace with yourself and with others. Despite the fact that the situation seems hopeless, we want to hold on to our love for life, for the country, for nature and for people. Our faith is the source of strength and hope. And power is given to us just as it is given to all who believe in a possible peace. I know I am accompanied by others and also by God, and that is the blessing.

This constellation brings with it great social and psychological problems; it is a burden on the mother-child relationship and the whole family. Some children are punished twice if they are detained with relatives instead of at home. Many children cannot go to school after this period of detention. They lose their prospects for the future. Their mothers are also trapped in this situation. Deep anger and feelings of guilt arise because they can neither protect nor promote their children.

Our women’s centers and organizations continue to work on these serious problems. Often the first thing to do is to convey an awareness of the personal rights of women and girls. Many women suffer from the patriarchal system, but are at the same time shaped by these customs and traditions. When I speak in women’s groups about topics such as gender equality, legislative reform or free future decisions, it becomes clear again and again how deeply rooted elements of oppression are in the attitudes and convictions of some women. It is shocking to hear how they even affirm honor killings. How they advocate marrying very young girls or the use of violence against women who disobey their husbands or who make their own decisions that then do not suit the father, brother or husband. But education can open their eyes and hearts. Often they are shocked about themselves, because they realize how trapped they are. It is liberating for many women to rethink these things, to feel them anew and to dare to understand them in a different way. Upbringing and education are the keys to positive change and liberation. To this end, we try to give women the strength to act, to motivate them to actively change structures.

When we work with young people, we want to give them orientation and make them aware of the great importance of education and qualification. In view of the political conflicts and the occupation situation, they should also learn to actively protect themselves: from anger, anger and pain. It is about always striving for peace with yourself and with others. Despite the fact that the situation seems hopeless, we want to hold on to our love for life, for the country, for nature and for people. Our faith is the source of strength and hope. And power is given to us just as it is given to all who believe in a possible peace. I know I am accompanied by others and also by God, and that is the blessing.