RAMALLAH, November 26 (JMCC) - Palestinian women in Jerusalem are all-too-often caught between traditional patriarchy and an uncaring, insensitive Israeli system, reports The National
At a recent conference attended by some 200 women, their concerns came tumbling out.
Rather than report crime such as rape to Israeli police, families tended to sort out issues at home. But that usually meant that men were left to arbitrate disputes, a process that rarely favours women.
If a Palestinian woman goes to the police to report abuse, her family will shun her because the police could come and detain her husband for an indefinite period of time, using her report of abuse as a pretext to arrest him for political reasons, said [conference speaker Eida] Eisawi.
The conference was attended by women from all walks of life. Educated, poor, religious and secular - they gathered to demonstrate to each other that Palestinian women could help each other overcome the difficulties of life in east Jerusalem.
We want to show that we, the women, can rely on each other, said Abeer Abu Khadeir, a Jerusalem co-ordinator for the Women's Affairs Technical Committee.
She and dozens of professors, lawyers and activists helped organise Thursday's conference, bringing together panellists to discuss issues ranging from sexual abuse to juggling careers and family.
The issue of male-dominated tradition triggered spirited responses when one audience member pointed out in a question-and-answer session that not a single man was in attendance. Shouts of frustration ensued. Several panellists rolled their eyes.
I invited my brothers, but they didn't come! said a young woman. A university student complained that none of her fellow male students accepted her invitation.
Yet the absence of men also seemed to open the floor for an outpouring of questions and debate on issues that may not have been so easily broached in the presence of men.