Sunday, 15 November 2015

The Syrian women fighting to save their city

Zaina Erhaim

 ' “It’s not just men fighting the war in Syria; it is women, too, and they feel forgotten,” she told the Observer. “The women activists are working harder, against more problems, but are forgotten as the west obsesses on Islamic State. It is just Assad against Isis, but we are still here in this ruined place and now we are facing two enemies, Isis and Assad.”
 In Erhaim’s film, entitled Syria’s Rebellious Women and made over the past 18 months, she profiles some of her friends who have helped to document the war, deliver supplies to civilians and provide medical services in ways that some within their country now regard as unacceptable behaviour for women. 
 Zein spent 14 months in a government prison for taking part in demonstrations. “The detention centre is a cemetery for the living,” she says. At one point government soldiers raped a male prisoner in front of her. When she was released she found her home had been destroyed and her family had gone. “I only wanted the Free Syrian Army. I got FSA, the al-Nusra Front and Isis. We said Syria is for all. Everybody joined in.”
 Zein has given up hope of getting married, or having a family. Erhaim, too, says that her husband gave up “nagging her” to have a baby after they both witnessed the aftermath of an airstrike on a nursery school near their flat. So many schools have been targeted that parents fear sending their children to school.
 “I met one woman who sits outside the school all day while her five children are inside,” said Erhaim. “I said to her, you cannot protect them by sitting there. And she said ‘no, but if the classroom is hit then at least I will die with them’.” '

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