Review: Giving Voices to the Voiceless by Jamileh Abu-Duhou
Title: Giving Voices to the Voiceless: Gender Based Violence in the Occupied Palestinian Territories
Author: Abu-Duhou, Jamileh
Length: 224 pages
Genre: Non-Fiction, Women
Publisher / Year: Berkshire Academic Press / 2011
Source: Borrowed from Carina, who bought it while we were on vacation in Egypt.
Why I Read It: I was out of reading material, so of course started working through Carina‘s. Plus it sounded really interesting.
Date Read: 01/04/12
What drives gender based violence? In this book anthropologist Abu-Duhou looks at her community and the history and culture surrounding her community to discuss the topic in an incredibly open and informative way. Abu-Duhou was born in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and educated in the UK and Australia. She went back to study the phenomenon of gender based violence – physical, psychological, sexual, and economic – in order to attempt to help those suffering from it, and in order to help work to decrease it.
A main point that Abu-Duhou makes through this book is that the violence that women face has been increasing in the past years and she ties this to the continued struggles of the state of Palestine itself. The ways in which Palestinians are treated by the Israeli state and forces makes it hard for the men to fulfil what they see as their role or duty – to protect their family from harm, to provide for them, and to have any amount of control over their own lives. These feelings of helplessness and desperation get increasingly taken out in the areas that they can – which is really only within the home. Women are suffering increasingly as a result of the conflict situation and the politics and .
In addition, through the book the author gives many of these women a place to share their stories and raise their voices. She looks at the history, culture, and religion in Palestine to discuss how these affect women, including the laws of the Occupied Palestinian Territories and the various governments that have created laws for them. The legal terrain, due to the various occupying powers through the past years, is complicated and this contributes as well to the lack of options that women have.
Abu-Duhou talks, as well, about the difficulties in doing anthropological work when the subjects are known. Unlike some who go in and study different cultures, she went back to her home area. The women she talked to were often women who knew her, or at least her family. I love discussions of anthropological research methods like this that discuss the actualities and complexities of real work. Definitely interesting.
Recommended to all who want to know more about violence in the home, in society, and in the world. A very interesting and engaging read.