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Why I will never have a daughter in Gaza
by Gege Abyad
April 6th, 2016 (11 Comments)
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Here are a set of assumptions you might make about me after reading the above title:

She is too feminist.
She's short and ugly.
She likes the word spinster.
She's a liberal, too busy questioning marriage.
She's a philosopher.
She's a drama queen.
She doesn't want her daughter to see President Trump.

Well, some of those things are accurate, but none are the actual reasons why I am writing this.

I am 22, I have two names, two birthdays, and multiple personalities (which means I am good actress). I grew up in Gaza, Palestine, an Arab society. Do I love it? Yes. I just prefer a distant relationship with my country.

The concept of not wanting to have kids, especially a daughter, has always been on my mind, but I have never considered the reasons. Every time I go into a discussion about this matter, I become confused and quite unpersuasive (You have to justify some personal decisions when living in a conservative society) . It was never enough to say, "Well, the world is too terrible to bring more humans into it, especially in my case, the Palestinian case. That's the last thing I want to do to someone. A kid with the Palestinian passport is like a bird born with no wings. Oh man, It hurts!"

Anyhow, I can make a list of hundreds of rational and quite convincing reasons now, but you can conclude what they might be. You're smart.

The other day I was in the court, filing some official papers, which is a bit of a nightmare because I have to don a veil and a burka, otherwise I am not allowed to enter the building. Next to me was a woman whose child had been involved in an accident. She was supposed to receive an amount of money as some sort of compensation. The judge asked, "Where is the father?" She said, "He is outside the country." The judge answered, angrily, "Where is his uncle (Father’s brother)?" She said, "I am his mother!" The judge shouted at her, "Where is his grandfather? Where is the child’s family? Go and bring anyone from his father’s part." As it turns out, you mom is not your family. What a surprise!

I usually go with my mother to get the papers done. And every time, we go through a very long and tiring process. The last time, however, I went with my brother, and to my surprise, everything was completed in less than 10 minutes, without even asking about me (I was waiting in the car). Why? Apparently, my country’s slogan is “Men only.” Transparency, power, and authority are equivalents for manhood.
This a small snapshot of what a woman goes through in my town on a daily basis. For me, it sums up a lot of struggles, difficulties, and a load of crap. What is the problem? Is it the law? The so-called "religious government"? The religion itself? Men? Ignorance?

Ultimately, I don't really care.  But the whole thing has led me to one conclusion. I love my daughter too much to ever bring her into this country.

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* Gege Al Abyad, is originally from Jaffa, but grew up in the Gaza Strip. She attended Al-Azhar University, where she received her BA in English and French literature. She questions all kind of limitations and social restrictions like nationality, gender and religion. She is a part of young writer's collective in Gaza named "We Are Not Numbers"

Comments (11)
  1. A good article!

  2. Well, I live in Gaza, but your story did’nt even come close to answering you don’t to have a little daughter in Gaza. I was raised in Gaza to compete with men, and I excelled. I am raising three daughters too with one son, and I am teaching my girls to stand up for themselves and my son to respect females. I see girls without Hijav everywhere and smoking shisha in cafes, and no one opresses them.I understand you are away, so please don’t write about Gaza if you don’t have a good and present picture!!

    • I respect what you’re doing to your children Abeer, but I think you can’t generalize the situation, the story of the court is a fact and girls in Roots are a fact too but it’s a small amount of people in Gaza. Think about heading to south ot north and you won’t find these girls with uncovered head and shisha, they’re living under a manhood life. You’re strong for raising your children in this way but I think it’s because you’re educated and you maybe have a husband or a family or even the chance that allows or support you to be like this. Gaza is a place full of contradictions, If your daughters in a governmental school then they will be under pressure of teachers and classmates if they don’t wear hijab and this is in Gaza. This is my opinion and I respect your’s anyway.

    • Thank you Abeer for sharing your experience. I am really happy to know that you had a good life. However, As Lara said, this is not the case for the majority of women. These are facts and real. Even the ones who smoke SHISHA are not free and equal to men. Being free is not about not wearing Hijab or smoking Shisha, this is not what we are fighting for. Not being judged or labeled as “A bad girl” for smoking Shisha or doing anything else, is what we look for. Also, If it was common, you won’t mention it as an example, you won’t even notice it!

      I wish you the best with your daughters and sons.

  3. I understand the feelings you are working through. As a Palestinian born and raised in Canada, and currently studying in Australia, I can tell you that Gaza is not the problem. Palestinian society is the problem. We have become over the years less tribal, less nationalistic, less secular and have evolved into replacing any previous attachments to that, to the bastardised version of a religious society.

    The men are raised since boyhood by mothers who accommodate this patriarchal and misogynistic view. Then the men perpetrate it on the women. Then the women accept it. And perpetrate it on other women.

    I couldn’t get married in my city in Canada because Palestinian mothers told their Palestinian sons, ‘no no no, we don’t want a girl born in Canada, she will have loose morals and be too westernised.’ So these mothers would take their sons ‘back home’ and get them some girl in the village. I wasn’t Palestinian enough for Palestinians.

    I was criticised for every aspect of my being including the most benign things such as wearing a sleeveless t-shirt in the heat of summer.

    I fought back fiercely. And I continue to fight back fiercely, because this attitude has followed me to my adopted Palestinian community in Australia.

    Until we recognise that we have a cultural attitude problem and refuse it, reject it, we will always not want to have a daughter no matter where we live.

    • I totally agree with you. Your experience means a lot and made me think of things differently. And yes, it is all about the culture that follows people wherever they go. It’s very difficult and complicated, and each women faces a different form of oppression. The common ground is a backward culture!

      The sad part, is that women are the first to stand in your way, like the kind of moms you have just mentioned. It’s really a big challenge to change their mentalities.

      You are a strong woman and I do really respect you.

      Thank you so much.

  4. Sarah Abu Ramadan ... April 9th, 2016 - 12:56

    It’s not a preferable thing to do for most of women in the Gaza’n society but I agree with you with every single word you’ve said. Well done Gege!

  5. You are absolutely right Gege. Men who are not free not understanding why women should be free are wrong. Free Women. Free Palestine.


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