Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Latest on Female Abuse in Gaza

BBC thinks that abuse gainst females in Gaza is a proper story.

I agree.

Gazan women face rise in abuse

Amongst the rubble of the Zeitoun area of northern Gaza, a group of women have gathered...This is no ordinary mothers' meeting. It has been organised by the Gaza Mental Health programme, which aims to help women here following Israel's military assault, as they try to bring up their families under Israel's continuing blockade.

The women talk openly about the misery they face - homelessness, the death of loved ones, whose photos they love to hand round, their children's trauma after the horrors they've seen.

But much harder for them discuss, the mental health workers say, is the abuse increasing numbers of Gaza women suffer at home.

The United Nations Development Fund for Women says there is anecdotal evidence that domestic violence - verbal, physical, sexual and psychological - has increased noticeably since Israel's recent bloody operation in Gaza and in general since Hamas took over sole control of the strip almost two years ago.

Hmm. They can't kill Israelis, so they take it out on their wives. It's a reverse of the left-wing criticism in Israel of the "occupation": soldiers who return from army reserve duty, act more violently against their wives.

Everyone is guilty and responsible except for the men themselves.

...Non-governmental organisations here are now trying to find ways to stop men in Gaza taking their frustration out on their families.

...Insharar is one of five sisters. She told us that her husband had lost everything, his job and his house. She said he could hardly bear to talk to anyone and was taking out his frustration on her and the children.

"But we forgive him," she said. "We know what's happened here and what he's going through."...

...Abu Fahdi is a former abuser, turned counsellor. "For us, the war really begins after the military war is over," he told me. "Here in Gaza men are supposed to be providers. The siege, the strikes, in one way or another they affect all households in Gaza - poverty, hunger, homelessness.

"Men are really frustrated. They sometimes take it out on their wives. She's in front of them every day."

But in Gaza, as in many eastern societies, there is nowhere for a woman to run.

...She [Eman] says he grabs her by her long hair and drags her around before hitting her. He is also violent with her three children, aged five, three and nine months. Baby Ahmad lies asleep in her arms as we sit talking in a small room at the women's clinic.

For Eman, the recent Israeli operation came as a relief. Her husband became regularly violent after losing his job. During Israel's recent three week operation, she and her sons sought refuge in UN schools. Her husband stayed at home. She said the boys wanted to stay at the UN even after Israel stopped bombing. They had food, which they don't always at home, she told me, and were far away from their violent father.

...When I asked her [Psychiatrist Suha Mousa] how open she found them to her clinic's message, she smiled.

"Some, yes. Some turn their backs," she says. "We will never eradicate domestic violence completely, but we can make progress".

...The day we arrived in Gaza, a young mother was stabbed to death by clan members after trouble with her husband. Human rights groups say the law in Gaza deals with cases like this far too leniently. They're generally considered a family affair.

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