USC Students for Justice in Palestine

history, analysis, news, and event updates on the struggle for justice in palestine

Aswat, a Palestinian LGBT group

Posted by uscsjp on November 27, 2007

The Women of Aswat

We are Women in a patriarchal society where women’s voices are not heard. A woman does not own anything, including herself. Everything is controlled by the male figures in her life – her father, her brother or even her uncle. She is under constant supervision by her community, in her neighbourhood, in the street, at school, at university. Wherever she is, there will be someone watching her and judging her.

According to our society’s traditional perception, a woman represents the family’s reputation and honour, a very heavy burden that we have to endure and carry until the day we will die. “A woman’s reputation is like a mirror, once it is cracked, it can never be repaired” is a very familiar saying to all women in our community, and it just symbolizes the kind of pressure that the society places on women. Many young women are forced out of schools when they are physically matured, out of fear that they might be easily influenced and bring shame to their families. The society lives under constant fear of  women bringing shame to themselves, their families and community. Women are are supposedly not able to take care of themselves, they should always depend on a male to protect them and provide for their needs, because they are vulnerable and weak: this is how they are traditionally seen. According to society, a woman’s role is limited to being a mother, or a daughter/sister who will become a mother herself once she is old enough.

We are Palestinians living under Israeli occupation. We have been under occupation since 1948. Being a Palestinian in this country means having limited control over our lives; everything is in the hand of the occupier. Our freedom of movement is limited by curfews, closures, checkpoints and the Wall. We are focusing all our energies on being able to provide for our families and, in most cases just being able to survive. The political situation is deteriorating as time passes by, and  women’s rights are pushed further back on the political and social agenda. Anytime a woman tries to speak up, she is faced with fierce reactions from her surroundings.

We are Gay in a society that has no mercy for sexual diversity. Coming out is not even an option because the consequences can be very severe. The options that are open to us are very few; we either live a double life in order to survive, and still maintain good relations with our family, or run away and be probably forced into a hard life.

We have decided that the time has come to defy the norms of our society, and make everybody hear our voices for change. (link to page)

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