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Marginalizing Women in the War Zone

Gaza during Operation Cast Lead

When the BBC published its series of interviews with Gaza residents talking about Hamas, they pushed the most compelling conversation (and the only comments by a woman) to the bottom of the page. It’s a conversation with Tihani Abed Rabbu. Her teenage son Mustafa, her brother and her closest friend were killed during Israel's January assault, codenamed "Operation Cast Lead."

Journalist and Middle East analyst Helena Cobban took issue with the placement of Abed Rabbu’s story. On her blog, Just World News, she protests the placement of this woman’s story:

Too frequently decision makers in the [mainstream media] simply marginalize women's experiences. But women's work in holding families together in very tough times lies at the heart of the social resiliency that can either save or break a community that's in conflict. So it is not only a compelling 'human interest' story—it is also at the heart of the big 'political' story regarding whether, for example, the people of Gaza or South Lebanon end up bowing to Israel's very lethally pursued political demands, or not. Maybe the BBC could, at the very least, elevate Ms. Abed-Rabbu's story to the top of that page?

Here’s a profoundly unsettling excerpt from the interview with Abed-Rabbu:

"I'm afraid that after I have lost Mostafa, that I will lose somebody else as well. When my children go to sleep, and I look at them, I start to think 'who is next—is it Ahmad's turn, or his brother?'

"What worries me is the safety of my family, my sons and my husband. My husband is going through a difficult time, a crazy time. He wants to affiliate with Hamas, he wants to get revenge after what they have done to us.

"How do you expect us to be peaceful after they have killed my son and turned my family into angry people—as they refer to us, "terrorists". I cannot calm my family down.

Sources: BBCJust World News 

Image by Amir Farshad Ebrahimi, licensed under Creative Commons.