A Girls Dream Crashes Against The Cruelty Of Life
Education is a human right guaranteed by international covenants. Specifically, the right to education is enshrined in Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 13 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights . However, this right means almost nothing for females in Palestine. In poor countries and those governed by traditional men societies, education remains a right only for the women from a certain class, the daughters of the ruling and the rich families of that country and society. This right to education remains an illusion and encircled in taboos for females of poor households, is one such society.
In the Palestinian West Bank, which remains under the Israeli occupation and is ruled on its behalf by the Palestinian Authority (PA), the females of poor families face discrimination in the field of education, regardless the financial support of the international community and international institutions given to the Palestinian Authority to subvention higher education. The monies given by international funds usually serve the sons and the relatives of the persons in power in Fatah, most of who attend universities and receive higher education in the EU and the USA. Few chances remain for the females of the poor class to receive the financial support for their education which the children of the PA receive.
In Palestine nobody cares about the tears of the girls, nobody listen to the voice of the poor people who have no voice and are not engaged in politics. In Palestine, females are the weakest part of the society, which is controlled by men in patriarchal fashion inside and outside the family, and by the political-religious groups as well non-political religious groups next to the PA, groups where females are clearly far away from the decision centers and of any political status.
In general, the decisions over the fate and future of females is a prerogative of the family, the fathers, brothers and the male relatives, especially in those families which live in rural communities, in the small towns and villages of Palestine.
Overall, the vast majority of Palestinians, especially in the south, in the Hebron district, believes that the appropriate place for women is at home, and they find a husband for their females early on. The Intifada uprisings and the poverty experienced by about 65 percent of the Palestinian people helped to increase the influence of radical religious groups and to promote the wrong and destructive concepts which these groups promote about women. The things became even worse for Palestinian women because the opinion became prevalent that the right age for the females to marry is between 14-18 years or at most after finishing school. After this age, women are seen as spinsters, what mean that they become “old” and not good for marriage. Under the scandalous theories of men, the new husbands, (especially the educated ones), begin the race for the selection of their wives under the age of eighteen. The prospective grooms start looking for girls who are beautiful and young, the only qualification asked from the girls to become the partner.
The price for the widespread phenomenon of marriage at an early age in Palestine is a divorce rate which has exploded. The beautiful young wives become divorced after a year or two. These girls become unfit for marriage in the eyes of society, and they become a new problem in their families, and to society, which looks askance at the fatherless families of these divorced women.
A Girl Rebels Against The Injustice Of The Cruelty Of Life in Hebron and Appeals to Continue Her Education as a Student of Law
Last Thursday morning, my handy rang. Calling me was a girl from Hebron whose family I know. I remember the girl and her family well. I still remember the toys of this blond girl while she was playing in the gardens in the neighborhood of my mother’s house. I know her father and mother. I knew her sisters and her brothers too. They all were children under the age of 10 when I last saw them. They inherited the white skin and the blond hair from their parents. Her family was never interested in politics or in political parties, like the one of third of the Palestinians who ONLY seeks a stable life and putting bread in the mouth of their children.
The name of the girl who called me is Hanin, what mean “yearning”, “longing”, “loving”. Hanin was crying bitterly. She is not a child anymore, she is 18 years old. Last year she finished her secondary school. She received 87 points of 100 in the general school certificate examinations at the literature section of the secondary school.
Hanin told me while crying: “I want to be a strong woman like you”. I asked her if she want to be a journalist. She said “no, journalism did not exist as a woman profession in Hebron after you left. I want to be a lawyer, my way and future are in studying at the university and protecting myself from the injustice of society. I love the law and I don’t want to marry and then divorce like other girls. I want to defend these girls who are divorced”.
She asked me what she can do in order to attend university. “My father cut me from studying at the Open University after one year of learning Business and Administration. My father is jobless most of the time. He works some months in the year, and stays the rest without work”.
Hanin asked me to help her to study law at the University, she asked me for support. She was very scared that her father will force her to marry a wealth man because of her beauty. She repeated several times “I do not want to marry, I want to study, but I am forced to stay at home. My life has turned hell since three months. Since my father is not able to pay for my study, he forces me to sit at home. I am very scared that I will be forced to marry anybody”.
“Since three months I am sitting at home” Hanin said, “but my desire of being a lawyer has grown more and more inside me. Why should I stay at home? Why should I not study law? Why should I marry and bury my desire and will? Why is my father poor? Who can help me or give me wise advice?” I heard many questions from Hanin, but I was not able to answer even one.
Hanin cried again and said: “My parents are fighting all the time because of me. My father sold my mothers gold to feed us, but not for my study at the university. Last week my father thought of divorcing my mother. This could be a disaster for our family. I am forced to be quite, but I am not able to forget my dream of being a lawyer”.
Appeal To The Director Of OFID in Vienna
Hanin asked me to send an appeal on her behalf to all international organizations which support the right of women to education and to all persons who support the rights of females to study. One such organization is the OFID, which funds education for Palestinians and also works through the UN. Hanin, who holds a UN refugee card but has never, received any support from the UN, asked to put her appeal in my words.
Dear Dr. Suleiman Al-Herbish,
Director-General of the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID).
I don’t know you, but I have been told about the kind help which your organization gives to Palestinians in the field of education.
I am a Palestinian girl from Hebron in the southern West Bank. I am 18 years old, I finished secondary school successfully and received 87 points of 100 in the general school certificate examinations.
I want to study law in order to be able to defend myself and the Palestinian girls who have successfully finished their secondary studies but are forced to marry because of their family’s mentality.
Many of these girls end up divorcing after a short time, and I do not wish to follow this path in life.
My father finished secondary school. He is the owner of a small hand work business, but he is jobless most of the year like hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, due to the Israeli occupation and economic blockade. My mother is a simple woman with only basic school, she is completely dependent on my father.
I respectfully appeal to you for your support and advice to help me attend University so that I can study law. I believe strongly that higher education is a kind of protection for women, and that a University certificate is strong weapon for women who could face the injustice of a hard life under the Israeli occupation.
I do not want to grow to become a weak and dependent woman like my mother is now, or like the too many weak women in our Palestinian society.
Note: This article was published before contacting Dr. Al-Herbish because of the New Year holidays. As soon as possible the appeal will be submitted to the right address. I will updated this article whenever I receive an answer from Dr. Al-Herbish, or any other person.
I know the full name of Hanin and have the contact information of her family phone in Hebron, and I can put you in contact with her family. Hanin’s family does not have Internet at home, and they do not have an e-mail address. Hanin speaks Arabic. Her father speaks Arabic and very little English. I will be able to translate any answers to this girl between English and Arabic.
I had a chance to talk with her father, who was very calm as in know him before, but he was very sad of his awful situation. He promised me not to force his daughter to marry anybody as a solution to his financial problems. He is very sad of the deteriorated situation of all Palestinians. He suffers because of his daughter pain, but still with cuffed hands, and does not know what to do.
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