Women who suffer
Dr. Nurit Peled-Elhanan is the mother of Smadar Elhanan, 13 years old when killed by a suicide bomber in Jerusalem in September 1997. Below is Dr. Elhanan's speech made on International Women's Day in Strasbourg in March 2005.
Although a year on from the time of this address by Dr. Nurit Peled-Elhanan, the issues and need for such honesty is ever more critical.
Thank you for inviting me to this today. It is always an honour and a pleasure to be here, among you (at the European Parliament).
However, I must admit I believe you should have invited a Palestinian woman at my stead, because the women who suffer most from violence in my county are the Palestinian women. And I would like to dedicate my speech to Miriam R'aban and her husband Kamal, from Bet Lahiya in the Gaza strip, whose five small children were killed by Israeli soldiers while picking strawberries at the family's strawberry field. No one will ever stand trial for this murder.
When I asked the people who invited me here why didn't they invite a Palestinian woman, the answer was that it would make the discussion too localized.
I don't know what is non-localized violence. Racism and discrimination may be theoretical concepts and universal phenomena but their impact is always local, and real. Pain is local, humiliation, sexual abuse, torture and death, are all very local, and so are the scars.
It is true, unfortunately, that the local violence inflicted on Palestinian women by the government of Israel and the Israeli army, has expanded around the globe, In fact, state violence and army violence, individual and collective violence, are the lot of Muslim women today, not only in Palestine but wherever the enlightened western world is setting its big imperialistic foot. It is violence which is hardly ever addressed and which is halfheartedly condoned by most people in Europe and in the USA.
This is because the so-called free world is afraid of the Muslim womb.
Great France of "la liberte egalite et la fraternite" is scared of little girls with head scarves. Great Jewish Israel is afraid of the Muslim womb which its ministers call a demographic threat.
Almighty America and Great Britain are infecting their respective citizens with blind fear of the Muslims, who are depicted as vile, primitive and blood-thirsty, apart from their being non-democratic, chauvinistic and mass producers of future terrorists. This in spite of the fact that the people who are destroying the world today are not Muslim. One of them is a devout Christian, one is Anglican and one is a non-devout Jew.
|Islam in itself, like Judaism in itself and Christianity in itself, is not a threat to me or to anyone. American imperialism is, European indifference and co-operation is and Israeli racism and its cruel regime of occupation is ..|
I have never experienced the suffering Palestinian women undergo every day, every hour, I don't know the kind of violence that turns a woman's life into constant hell. This daily physical and mental torture of women who are deprived of their basic human rights and needs of privacy and dignity, women whose homes are broken into at any moment of day and night, who are ordered at a gun-point to strip naked in front of strangers and their own children, whose houses are demolished , who are deprived of their livelihood and of any normal family life. This is not part of my personal ordeal.
But I am a victim of violence against women insofar as violence against children is actually violence against mothers. Palestinian, Iraqi, Afghan women are my sisters because we are all at the grip of the same unscrupulous criminals who call themselves leaders of the free enlightened world and in the name of this freedom and enlightenment rob us of our children.
Furthermore, Israeli, American, Italian and British mothers have been for the most part violently blinded and brainwashed to such a degree that they cannot realize their only sisters, their only allies in the world are the Muslim Palestinian, Iraqi or Afghani mothers, whose children are killed by our children or who blow themselves to pieces with our sons and daughters. They are all mind-infected by the same viruses engendered by politicians. And the viruses , though they may have various illustrious names--such as Democracy, Patriotism, God, Homeland--are all the same. They are all part of false and fake ideologies that are meant to enrich the rich and to empower the powerful.
We are all the victims of mental, psychological and cultural violence that turn us to one homogenic group of bereaved or potentially bereaved mothers. Western mothers who are taught to believe their uterus is a national asset just like they are taught to believe that the Muslim uterus is an international threat. They are educated not to cry out: 'I gave him birth, I breast fed him, he is mine, and I will not let him be the one whose life is cheaper than oil, whose future is less worth than a piece of land.'
All of us are terrorized by mind-infecting education to believe all we can do is either pray for our sons to come back home or be proud of their dead bodies.
And all of us were brought up to bear all this silently, to contain our fear and frustration, to take Prozac for anxiety, but never hail Mama Courage in public. Never be real Jewish or Italian or Irish mothers.
I am a victim of state violence. My natural and civil rights as a mother have been violated and are violated because I have to fear the day my son would reach his 18th birthday and be taken away from me to be the game tool of criminals such as Sharon, Bush, Blair and their clan of blood-thirsty, oil-thirsty, land thirsty generals.
Living in the world I live in, in the state I live in, in the regime I live in, I don't dare to offer Muslim women any ideas how to change their lives. I don't want them to take off their scarves, or educate their children differently, and I will not urge them to constitute Democracies in the image of Western democracies that despise them and their kind. I just want to ask them humbly to be my sisters, to express my admiration for their perseverance and for their courage to carry on, to have children and to maintain a dignified family life in spite of the impossible conditions my world in putting them in. I want to tell them we are all bonded by the same pain, we all the victims of the same sort of violence even though they suffer much more, for they are the ones who are mistreated by my government and its army, sponsored by my taxes.
Islam in itself, like Judaism in itself and Christianity in itself, is not a threat to me or to anyone. American imperialism is, European indifference and co-operation is and Israeli racism and its cruel regime of occupation is. It is racism, educational propaganda and inculcated xenophobia that convince Israeli soldiers to order Palestinian women at gun-point, to strip in front of their children for security reasons, it is the deepest disrespect for the other that allow American soldiers to rape Iraqi women, that give license to Israeli jailers to keep young women in inhuman conditions, without necessary hygienic aids, without electricity in the winter, without clean water or clean mattresses and to separate them from their breast-fed babies and toddlers. To bar their way to hospitals, to block their way to education, to confiscate their lands, to uproot their trees and prevent them from cultivating their fields.
I cannot completely understand Palestinian women or their suffering. I don't know how I would have survived such humiliation, such disrespect from the whole world. All I know is that the voice of mothers has been suffocated for too long in this war-stricken planet. Mothers' cry is not heard because mothers are not invited to international forums such as this one. This I know and it is very little. But it is enough for me to remember these women are my sisters, and that they deserve that I should cry for them, and fight for them. And when they lose their children in strawberry fields or on filthy roads by the checkpoints, when their children are shot on their way to school by Israeli children who were educated to believe that love and compassion are race and religion dependent, the only thing I can do is stand by them and their betrayed babies, and ask what Anna Akhmatova--another mother who lived in a regime of violence against women and children--asked: Why does that streak of blood, rip the petal of your cheek?
"the idea that feminism somehow implies that women want to be men is stupid(as if it is such an honor being a man!)"
If that's the case then can you explain this statement to me that's if you know much about feminism: "une femme n'est pas nee une femme; elle devient une femme" French "A woman is not born a woman; she becomes a woman" said Simone Dubeauvoir, the mother of feminism.
Please tell us then, If a woman is not born a woman? according to feminism then what is she? a man? answer this. This is my challenge to you?
"Muslim countries are the only countries in the world that dont grant basic rights such as driving, choosing occupations, to women. " You are absolutely wrong, 100%. There is only one country, Saudi Arabia, about 24 million Muslims of the Salafi/Wahabi sect. The rest of the countries that make over one billion Muslims have no driving restrictions on women. In all those countries women are free to chose dignified occupations for themselves. Occupations such as prostitutes, masseus, striptease and exotic dancers are forbidden. From Morocco to Iraq, exclude Saudi Arabia, as far as Philipines Muslim women drive, fly panes are running governments and contribute to innovations and progress in the whole Islamic world alonside with men.
"the idea that feminism somehow implies that women want to be men is stupid(as if it is such an honor being a man!)" Oh yeah,agreed, since this feminism came about we see in Canada women as construction workers, miners, boxers, wrestlers,bouncers and chest barers among other odd occupations.Not much liberation there.
The rest of your comment is just crass ignorance. Did you ever talk to a Muslim woman? Or you picked only those in a domestic abuse? The non-Muslim women in domestic abuse supercede in numbers those unfortunate Muslims.Read statistics,my dear.
As for your comment,"As for Hudd and other muslim men like him",let me say this,don't asume,you don't know me,my ancestral paternal line is rooted in Lancaster,UK,I know my people and the culture of my people. And guess what,I entirely follow it with the exception of that which is haram/forbidden by Islam.
I pray my GOD the almighty of all,
To be with my sisters who are in a very un fitting enviornment.
May GOD the almighty take good care of the one who does not care his creatures.
When I was a child, I heard a saying from an old man.
He used to say,
child never ever harm anyone, even if they harm you. It is there fault if they do something wrond as they are ignorant, rather do something good to them so that they repent for what they has done to you.
And this quality is very dear to the GOD almighty.
However I am deeply hurt when I read the article....
I am complaining no one, it is our deeds for which we are punished by the GOD almighty....
Brothers and Sisters let us pray for the safety of our fellow people.
Let us start doing something good for those who has done bad to us.
May GOD the almighty bless us with patience untill he gave his verdict.
As for Hudd and other muslim men like him, lets not pretend that just because colonialism in Israel and Afghanistan, Iraq etc. is hurting muslim women, that somehow negates the oppression of women in Islamic countries. Muslim countries are the only countries in the world that dont grant basic rights such as driving, choosing occupations, to women. the idea that feminism somehow implies that women want to be men is stupid(as if it is such an honor being a man!), what they are demanding is the right to live their lives on their own terms, to choose an occupation of their choice, to have a chance to live a emotionally, intellectually and sexually satisfying life. To not have their choices made for them by a government controlled by stupid Muslim men. At some point we as Muslim women have to come to grips with the fact that our men are fools, .. and we women have to stand up so these morons dont make a bigger mess of our society.
I think you are not talking with from a rational standpoint but from an emotional one. Besides we don't cure hate with hate...unless you want to keep the cycle of hate going. You see you are thinking and feeling the same way a mysogene (a man that hates women) thinks, feels & may be behaves.
Does it make sense to you to replace a world of few men that hate women by a world of women that hate men? It doesn't because what you are preaching is replacing abuse of women by abuse of men. No man will accept that and no woman will either except for a dominatrix. But again that's not in a woman's nature. Yes the extremist among feminists can train normal & abnormal women to hate men & they did so but what did they accomplish? nothing but making themselves even more unhappy than they 've ever been before.
May Allah Swt grant All our sisters in these countries with much sabur, and for those of us who have not seen any % of the sufferings our beloved sisters are undergoing, May we give more and more shukoor to Allah SWT for our freedom.
My Dua's for All those sisters out there , at the hands of these ruthless powers,
" Allah SWT will not forget your deeds, You will be rewarded" until then, please have saboor, and await the sweetness of Jannah!
Your sisters in Islam
From Sri Lanka
what a speech!!!The article was worth reading.
Blindworld you are also right but the cause of all evils in Middle East is WEALTH.I know they (Arabs) treat their servant very brutaly.
She has expressed the suffering of women the whole world.
May Almighty Guide all of us towards the right Path.
This is how Muslims are supposed to live their lives on earth. And it is a woman who has shown us how it should be lived by her words and action.
Let all the Musharafs and the Mubaraks,and the Saudis, and the Kuwaitis, and the Afghans, and the riff-raff Muslim men out there take note.... all those social parasities who claim Islam as their Deen--they have all been shamed by one woman's honesty and courage to speak on behalf of suffering human beings.
Note all Muslim men who claim women are the weaker gender! You may now lower your heads in shame! Or go hide somewhere in the depths of darkness of your own creation!
This one woman's show of courage and integrity and conscience is sufficient firepower to shame you all! Shame on all men-- that is, all those who have misused their power, their political or social status, and indulged their greed and their baser nature to corrupt and pollute the Earth, or have responded to human suffering with a deafening silence.
Perhaps, it is time that they step down and shut up and let the voices of women be heard everywhere. It's about time!
Very good point brother Hudd, you just need to remember the adage when angels arrives satans disappears.
Brother Ibrahim Adam Muhammad mentions a famous hadith about the importance of our mothers...very good point there and I would like to add this hadith:
"Alnissa'u shaquaiqu rrijaal" Arabic for Women are the sisters of men said the messenger of Allah Muhammad (peace be upon him) but most of men don't want to analyse this hadith because it is not in our interest. Shame on these men that treat their wives like slaves and don't want to admit it because they are in denial. They said that the least secure place for a women to be in America is her house but American men are not our role models (Do you expect respect for women from men that voted for Bush twice) especially their leaders. Our only role model is the messenger of Allah (pbuh)
Maybe is time for the woman to take a more active role in the Ummah's decisions around the world just as it was promoted during our beloved prophet's time. Maybe is time for woman like Condoleeza Rice to stop playing the man's game...
As long as we are kept in the kitchens of this planet under the false pretense that it is the place where we belong...our children will suffer and will be killed in front of us. Allah (SWT) did not intended the woman to be a servant but to him but many interpreters of the Quran maintain controls beyond the laws of God that are creating a serious imbalance in the community. Man and woman were made to work together...when that happens the balance will be restored and we will live better lives. Violence, abuse, injustice will always be present but should not prevail like is happening today.
May Allah bless all believers....
Your article touched my hearth. Calling every woman your sister is indeed noble. If we all have the same passion toward each other then there will not be a need to fight over anything. Thanks for standing for those who has no voice no right to speak about their pains.
I ask Almighty Allah to give you joy and happiness and give you even more courage and strength to stand for those women whose been silenced.
Your sister from Afghanistan,
The prophet Muhammad (SAW) was asked by one of the sahabas (companions);paraphrasing, who amongst my parents do i owe the greatest concern? The prophet (SAW) replied; your mother! the sahaba asked again the prophet replied in the affirmative, your mother. Three times the sahaba asked and three times the prophet answered, your mother. On the fourth occasion the prophet (Sallallahu 'Alaihi Wasallam) replied your father. Sadaka Rasullullah (SAW).
There is an adage that you save a man, you only save an indivdual, you save a woman you save a community. This cannot be far from the truth.
One may go ahead to deduce that one of the causes of calamities ("natural calamities") we face today should be the way the so called "civilised" leaders of our world cause directly or indirectly the wanton destruction of women, through wars, invasions, sanctions etc.
This is the naked truth, and is unfortunate how mankind (khalifa of Allah) on earth has trangressed to his destruction and by implication bringing closer the doomsday onto himself!
May Allah save us from our transgressions and stubborness to destroy that which is sacred and guide those on true guidance to the path that is straight unto Himself. Ameen.