Some 37% of married women in the Palestinian territories have been subjected to domestic violence by their husbands. Of these, 51% live in Gaza according to a 2012 study by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. Speaking in hushed tones for fear that passersby might hear, Ibtissam recounted her story.
“My husband did not like what I cooked for dinner, so he punched me in the face, injuring my eye. I often get severely beaten for trivial reasons. I am cruelly insulted, but cannot find anyone to listen to my plight or help me overcome my predicament.”
Despite the hoarseness evident in Ibtissam’s voice as she spoke, her uncovered eye remained dry, as if turned to stone in its socket. Trying to remain calm, she continued speaking.
“No one cares about me, and this increased the frequency of my husband’s physical assaults and verbal insults. He even allows his mother and sisters to hit me during familial disagreements.”
The young woman explained that two things had prevented her from talking about her ordeal: first, her family did not care about what she was being subjected to, and second, fear of the death threats by her husband if she dared to talk. She even told the doctor who treated her eye that she had “fell off a ladder.”