Afrah Nasser is a feminist blogger and freelance writer from Yemen living in Sweden. She used to work at Kvinna till Kvinna, 2013. She's currently a grad student in Communication at Gothenburg University.
Over two million Syrians have been forced to flee to neighbouring countries. Photo: Warvin/Safin Hamid
I was invited to talk at the ‘US/EU Role in the Middle East, Focus on Syria” discussion via Google hangout organized by The New Discussion, two days ago. My talk was mainly focused on Syrian women’s plight which is one of the most under-reported sides of the conflict in Syria.
After working at The Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation for more than 7 months (Feb. – Aug. 2013), I’m very aware of how this conflict is causing a huge destruction to the Syrian nation and women are the ones who would – already are – be getting the greatest harm. What I also worry about is the little women’s representation in the ongoing conflict resolution/negotiation process. We hardly see women’s faces in those negotiations’ tables. The conflict is not over yet to bring the attention to women’s participation in the peace talks, but the current dynamics give us hints of how women could or not be present in those talks.
In the meantime, Syrian women refugees have been pouring to neighbouring countries and to other different parts of the world. Let’s not forget to continue solidarity with them and help with whatever we can. Among the enormous support initiatives, here is The Kvinna till Kvinna’s latest work in that regard. Your help, whether small or big, can make a difference!
It has been a tragic day, the Black Wednesday for Egypt yesterday. It’s heartbreaking to watch the mass killing of the hundreds of casualties from wherever political side they come from. Human beings’ lives come first before all the world’s politics. Considering all the conspiracy theories have been said, it’s also important to condemn the burning of churches that happened across the country. The world was in disbelief to see such a rise in violence and hatred in Om Aldonia, Egypt. “Will Egypt turn into another Syria? Unlikely. Egypt is neither a sectarian state – it never has been, even with 10 per cent of its people Christian – nor an inherently violent one,” writes acclaimed journalist, Robert Fisk.
Undoubtedly, yesterday’s tragic events, along with the current unresolved conflict between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Army, affect all Egyptians, women, men and children. It’s hard to comprehend that armoured cars and bulldozers rolled into two camps on opposite sides of Cairo, with tear gas deployed and used live bullets, while there were among the demonstrators women and children. Whoever committed those atrocities must be hold accountable.
While living in Yemen, I used to get harassed a lot. There is unspoken agreement among males that females are second class citizens. Hence, females are always subjected to sexual harassment on a daily biases while they are at public spaces. After college I gained more confidence and started to defend myself whenever I get harassed. “Stop it! otherwise, I will turn this bus upside down if you continue, you moron.” I used to yell to harassers at the public transportation.
Two days ago, Shorouq al-Turby, an Egyptian young lady, was killed after a harasser run over her with his car after she tried to defend herself (read here). That was the price of her bravery. No legal action has been done so far by Egypt’s government in regard of that. Justice has not been served for Shorouq’s lost soul. I can’t get Shorouq out of my head and I think girls around the world must also not get her out of their heads. It could have been me, you, her, or any other woman in the world.
Rest in peace Shorouq and may we continue the fight for you and all females in the world!
Today, the Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation (KTK) celebrates the 20years anniversary of its establishment and I take this chance to express my admiration for the passion and commitment the foundation demonstrates to support women during their tough time, times of war and conflicts.
Mainly, KTK collaborates with women’s organizations who play an active part in peace and rebuilding processes, in several countries who go through conflicts and political turbulence, assuring that women are great agents of peace.
As a young lady who experienced living through a war – 1994 civil war in Yemen- I can’t stress enough on the importance of achieving peace. Wars don’t just kill people and destroy properties, it also destroy souls. In the wake of wars, what it is even more saddening is the violence that follows and unfortunately women are the ones who suffer the greatest harm.
Having said that, how can one not admire foundations such as KTK which works passionately in investing in peace!
Just over the past two weeks, a 19-year-old Tunisian woman, identified only as Amina sparked massive controversy when she posted two photos of herself topless on the Femen Tunisian Facebook page (FEMEN is a women’s movement promoting women’s rights through topless struggle). In one of the picture Amina posed while smoking a cigarette, baring her breasts and it was written across her chest “my body belongs to me and it’s not the source of anyone’s’ honor.” The purpose behind that was “to make the voice of the Tunisian women heard and protect them from suppression,” Amina told a local Tunisian press.