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Escape, fear and survival: My name is Wesam Al Taweel and this is my story

English Women rights

Monday 16 January 202302:33 pm
إقرأ باللغة العربية:

قفزتُ وأختي من الطابق السادس إلى الخامس، كي ننجو


The story of my sister and me began when we were locked for the first time in a completely sealed room, with only one door that was kept closed at all times, and would only be opened once or twice a day at most to allow us to go to the bathroom. In this dark room, only a few sun rays could reach us from between the cracks in the boarded up window. These small holes were my compass to see the world, and through them, I could appreciate what was happening outside my prison. I stand, stuck in a suspended state of waiting — the usual wait for any free human being who has known and tasted the psychological state of imprisonment in its own sense, coupled with distant hope, the hope that educates us to fight for our dreams and aspirations and struggle for what we have lost and will lose.

Hello, I am Wesam Imad Al Taweel. I am twenty-four years old, I graduated from the Faculty of Sharia and Law at AUG in Gaza last year, and because of the compelling circumstances I went through, I could not join my colleagues in their joy and celebration, so I shared my tears, happiness, and prayers with them.

There is a price we pay to survive; survive yourself first, outlive the crippling trauma that comes knocking every night, and then being able to survive your name, your fears, and your breakdowns within close range of your loved ones

There is a price we pay to survive; survive yourself first, outlive the crippling trauma that comes knocking every night, and then being able to survive your name, your fears, and your breakdowns within close range of your loved ones. The trails I had to take along my path often exhausted me, but every time I chose to fall apart before my decisions, I decided to stand up and carry on, because I believe in my battle and my desperate need for radical change.

My path is long and faltering with the remnants of what I feared and hid behind, but with the support of friends, I was able to endure and prevail more. I knew that the victor in this battle was actually the loser, as on my personal level, I left behind a family and a city filled with ideological distortions of its norms and customs. I grew up in an environment ruled by the prevailing concepts adopted by the majority of people without any space for questions, from the owner of the cigarette shop and the taxi drivers, to the entrances of houses in the camp. Every day, I still feel that pain inside me, in the schizophrenic way of dealing with the course of our case — me and my sister Fatima — amid massive attempts to distort the facts. However the simple truth is that we are two abused girls who broke our chains by jumping from the sixth floor to the fifth, just to survive. At least this is what we expected, not out of faith in the system of justice, but rather out of a buried faith in necessity, a faith in a world that is more peaceful and secure for us as women.

When an abused woman decides — following long periods of agony after the concepts of patriarchal society plagued her body, whether through severe beatings to her body or verbal insults to her mind — to take a firm decision to search for a safe space where she feels a measure of confidence to express herself, and also decides to reveal what she has been suffering from for many wretched years, it is in these rare moments, that it is as if the woman is finally emerging from the hornet's nest, trying to tell her story on a solid foundation of courage, indifferent to what will happen next.

Hello, I am Wesam Imad Al Taweel, and my story began when my sister and I were locked for the first time in a completely sealed room, with only one door that was always kept closed, and would be opened once or twice daily at most to allow us to go to the bathroom

We live in a society whose main theme is the habit of exercising cruelty and violence in all its forms, both explicit and implicit, an environment that thirsts to legitimize violence and destroy safety and comfort zones under labels like the legitimate authority of the father, protecting the Palestinian family, and customs that claim to be humane or religious, calling for integrity, purity and chastity, all under a lethal and murderous willingness to protect the historical system of what they perceive as honor.

The search for safe government policies for women in our country is nothing but tiring and seems to be there to only completely deplete women to the point of surrender and just accept what the abuser says. This is represented by the fact that women shelters and safe-houses are only a space for women to rest and take a break from her domestic battles, according to what the supervisor of the Beit al-Aman shelter in Gaza finally told me, after a fierce discussion about the weak role of these centers in finding real solutions to women's issues.

The search for safe government policies for women in our country is nothing but tiring and seems to be there to only completely deplete women to the point of surrender and just accept what the abuser says

Under this strict authoritarian trend of torture, cruelty, and brutality, I live through my struggle, looking past my own case to observe the stories of others, women I met and lived with and with whom I stayed up until the early hours of the morning. We have become united by a common concern, an overwhelming pain, and collective consolation attempts to get rid of the spiral of guilt and stigmas inflicted upon women in our society. In it, they live in a nest of suffocating torment and worries burdened with responsibility, especially if she is a mother pregnant with her fourth child from a husband who lacks any real meaning in her life and that of her children, while her parents, on the other hand, see her as a burden they cannot take in.

I met Shireen in the Beit al-Aman shelter. She’s a woman who fought for a decent and secure life, and who did not ask for much in the long nights I stayed up with her. One night, she told me, "You know, Wissam, I only want a house with a roof to shelter me and my children," and the next morning, I woke up to the news of her departure, sent back to the same unknown she tried to escape.

Women shelters and safe-houses are only a space for women to take a break from her domestic battles, This is what the supervisor of a shelter in Gaza told me after a fierce discussion about the weak role of these centers in finding real solutions to women's issues

Thinking of women as a continuous and effective public affair will bring us back to the dominant thinking and practices of defending rights, reviewing the mistakes of the past, and projecting new mechanisms on awareness in the present, so that our societies will become filled with justice, safety, and confidence that those who cause this pain to women will be held accountable.

One of the fatal mistakes that our Arab society, and Gazan society in particular, commits is the tribal and clan domination of minds

One of the fatal mistakes that our Arab society, and the Gazan society in particular, commits is the tribal and clan domination of minds, the suppression of multiple identities and intellectual minorities that do not emanate from customs and traditions, and the failure to make any serious plan to accept or even discuss them. So now we have begun to deny cultural pluralism, and we obliterate all possible tools to plant a fair and level playing field inside the country, just to see one unified identity and people who have the same reactions to any harsh event. Even any attempts to dismantle the authoritarian system of the hierarchy of decision-making in extended families enter the scope of absolute rejection, so that individual salvation and the survival of the individual is not possible in our society.

What really angers me is that we are still living this after many years of confronting this system, with the presence of many oppressed women who reveal their oppression and its repercussions well, and do not hesitate to hold those responsible accountable, but the reality is still a harsh one.

This struggle, made by women who fight daily for their rights and the right to a life without violence, I have seen in every woman I have encountered in my life, from Shireen, Samar, Nahla, Taghrid, Kariman, and Nahil, to Israa Gharib, Madeleine, and the women whose hearts are full of love and determination despite the blatant emotional oppression and subjugation against them... I write this to you and will always write.



*The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Raseef22


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