Can TV shows end domestic violence in Palestine?
In a warzone, rebuilding psychological bridges and societal ties is just as important as rebuilding through the rubble
A grant from the British government was awarded to the Palestinian Ma’an news agency, based in Ramallah, to finance shows that will tackle issues of violence against women.
The shows are set to discuss issues ranging from marital rape to honor killings. But this is not the first time films and international funding has been used to support women in Palestine. Using international funding for art programs and film is a trend that can result in a stronger community with greater respect for women as equals.
Holding society together
In a warzone, rebuilding psychological bridges and societal ties is just as important as rebuilding through the rubble. One of the greatest things these shows will achieve is a powerful image of a society held together. The women in Palestine have seen plenty of destruction, death, and trauma. Many of these women who experience gender violence are in fact widows who were left with orphans. What the society needs more than anything is support and a strong sense of community to move forward.
In a warzone, rebuilding psychological bridges and societal ties is just as important as rebuilding through the rubbleYara al-Wazir
A study by the Palestinian Authority shows that the Israeli occupation has a disproportionate effect on women, given the sense of humiliation women experience, particularly at checkpoints. Therefore it is incredibly meaningful that the British government is funding such a cause, albeit through a news agency.
Do Palestinian women need these grants?
Palestinian women have cemented their names in history. The General Union of Palestinian Women was established in 1965; its current president joined the Fatah movement in 1959. Hind Al-Hussaini’s story of rescuing orphans from the Deir Yassin massacre in 1948 and starting a school for them was a prominent theme in the feature film Miral.
Yet, despite the fact that Palestinian women have been making headlines since the 1940s, the Palestinian society, like every society across the world, still has issues of domestic violence that need to end.
A study published by the Palestinian Women’s Information and Media Centre shows that 52.4% of married women have experienced physical violence, 71% psychological violence and 14.5% to sexual violence. Societies will continue to need these grants until the phenomenon is wiped.
The powerful women who exist in Palestinian society and government are great role models and inspiration for women who suffer from domestic violence, not only in Palestine, but all over the world. Grants like this are not only required, but a necessity for continued progression.
Films are Palestine’s next big trend
The Palestinian film industry is no stranger to tackling social issues. Speed Sisters (currently in production), tackled gender stereotypes by showcasing the first all-female Palestinian racing team. Five Broken Cameras, a film by Emad Burnet even managed to gain an Oscar nomination in 2012.
In a country torn by political parties, no one wants to listen to what the government ahs to say. Art and films speak to all Palestinians, all people, from all walks of life and political ideologies. A report published by the Palestinian Authority in 2011 investigated the root cause of domestic violence, and found that it was heavily connected to culture and tradition. So perhaps tackling this issue through film is exactly what needs to happen for a cultural shift to occur.
Yara al Wazir is a humanitarian activist. She is the founder of The Green Initiative ME and a developing partner of Sharek Stories. She can be followed and contacted on twitter @YaraWazir