A Voice for Omna
by Rosemary Ferrara
I'd like you to meet my friend. Let's call her Omna. She is 17, pregnant with her second child and lives in the Gaza Strip. Her free will is limited and her free speech even more so. She has given me so much and in return I asked if she'd like to use my voice and share her story. She said:
I try think about it's risks. Don't search for trouble now, you know. If you meet before a few years, I do that without any hesitate, but now I have things to lose. I'm not afraid from any tough questions (even like them.) I just afraid from things said can harm me. But if you said anyone wouldn't know my name, so I think its okay. I don't worry about it. But however they [husband and family] don't understand English and I have pin code for my Galaxy.
I have married already 2 years. In most cases [family arranges marriage], with me it was another. I had good boyfriend. We almost had married but unfortunately he died. He was soldier and die in the last war. Was brave guy. My husband was good friend of my brother, so he saw me when he was in our house. He had spoken with my father, pay a lot and then we indeed get married! [Lot] is bride price. When a guy wants to marriage a girl, he uses to pay for her father a bride price. My husband was 20 when we had married. It was about a million dollars, but don't know exactly the sum. My father didn't agree to tell me. My husband works with oil mines in Saudi Arabia. He also busy with diamonds. We live nearby his family's house, in the same building, but in separate apartment.
I myself had almost killed 3 times by relatives. But my lucky was that in all my virginity testing, I was okay. But since you get marry, your husband's family controls you and not your family. Thank god they [husband and family] are okay with me. His family is very cold with polities. I come from different place, (my family is very warm) but have learned their codes and nuances. Since we are a patriarchal social, like a girl, you are always under a male's authority. Before wedding, you are with your father and after wedding, with your hubby and his family. They take care of you and you should obey them. I wouldn't understand that. You need to have born to that situation to understand it.
When you have suspected to not be virgin, so if you have luck, they are really to check this subject and do virginity testing. It's unpleasant ceremony when all the family around you and everyone check again and again to be sure. It saved my life because I really was virgin. I think it is dangerous for girls that go with boyfriend and lose their virgins. Every month I hear about cases that end with girls die. It's sad.
I grew up in violent surrounding. The violence was in the street and even in the home. Like a girl you learn to be okay and not loudly so you don't interrupt anyone and wish don't hurt from anyone. However, I was a little different. I was like a boy sometimes. In a way-no-way, I had learned Judo and Karate. I know protect myself when someone 'begins' with me. My relatives know that and my childhood passed almost without violence.
But when I had got married things became different. My husband was used to violence and didn't know this side of me. The first times he was totally shocked, but I back for any violence. It helped me but not stop the violence, just low it. Seems my hubby has no control of his hands. It was that way til my baby girl grew up a bit. She was 1 year old when I saw her take her doll and simply hit her strongly, continually, for long times until her hands became red. My awful surprise was when I saw her use my tactics and movements. Take her hand and catch the doll's shoulder. It shocked me! So young baby and already know her mother tactics by heart. So young and already used to violence. It this hour I knew that I must stop it now for her. Today after a long way, I can tell you proudly, I, we together, defeat violence in our home. I have a group and teach girls Judo. Feel I do something in that global war against violence. Please with no violence.
I can describe the Arabic culture with 3 words; honor, honor, honor. Palestinians hate Israel because the Zionists hurt their honor. The Zionists are not religious at all. The religious Jewish do not support them. My hero is a Jew and I pro Israel but against Zionism. The Zionists believe that Israel is their country. The absurd is that proof their with psalm from the bible, while they are not religious at all! Actually, I know the leaders of the religious people in Israel don't support the Zionism. My hero is one of the religious leader there. His name is Rabbi Shach and he died when I was really young. I just have Jewish friends that they tell me about him. Actually, my problems is with Zionism and not Judaism. Seems the only solution for that poor war is that Zionism die out. I'm optimistic about that because it happens. I read in 20 years Arabs and Ultra Orthodox Jews will be the most in Israel.
In the wars when Israeli soldiers came here, it was common to try kill them spontaneity by doing them lynch. You should read about the 2000 Ramallah lynching. It was the awful lynch I had ever seen. I know men become soldiers in their 18 in the Israeli army. Here, if you want, you can fight no matter your age. It's terrible to see at the day camps 7 year old babies practice using gun. They color their hands with 'Jewish blood'! And the catastrophe is the United Nation help to fund these camps.
Seems this war is complicated and endless but never lose my hopes! Yesterday, we had here short bomb shellings but now it stops. I always scare in that shellings, hug my baby and wait til over. Since you have children, you become really cowardly. Last war in 2009, I was brave fighter and cause many terribles for the Israelis. Had set in prison for a few months. Bad lucky girl!
Actually was 3 months and week in the Israeli prison. It was great experience. I come in prison a stupid baby and go out prison another person. I was really young – almost 13. Usually they don't imprison under 18, but I had acted with friends over 18, so they catch us all and I was blamed hurt Israeli soldiers, by making them ambushes and doing lynches, for 4 soldiers. Paradoxical. We (I and 3 other friends) saved this soldiers life. The people wanted to kill them with hurts, but since my friend died in this war, I always promise myself, don't kill anyone, whatever will be. We shouted about another soldier that come so everyone run away. We stay there til they will be safe. We plan to run away too when the soldiers come to take the hurt soldiers. But unfortunately didn't escape in time. They catch us and blame us hurting the soldiers. My friends sat in prison about a year. My own luck was that one of the hurt soldiers recognize me. I was very rare, so he remembered me treat him a bit. But I'm not sorry about these months. It gave me a lot. I improve my Hebrew, learn deeply about Judaism and make many friends with Israelis.
I believe people should know that everything they do has influence in the world. If in U.S. guys hurt women by words, in Gaza guys hurt women with hands and vice versa. I mean all global humanity is in one boat. If you cause a hole in that, water come in the boat and are dangerous for all the people in the boat. Stop thinking that what I do/invent/make is my business. You don't even know how your deeds influence far away. Just know we, all people, that dream,love and anger exactly as you. Behind anyone, we should first of all see the person. No matter who is him, he likes to live. He likes the peace.
I believe that world with women leaders would be more peaceful and right. Women have the power to give lives and the power to give life is greater than the power to take them. The great feminism is that women stop try be like males. Feel free and proud as how you are and just do what you feel is good for you. Don't let anyone stand in your way. And the Americans should stop immediately to give any cent to Arabic countries that don't give women basic rights like driving or go alone in the street. As I said, I have too much things I want people to know, but I think it's more than enough for one girl to say.
In Memoriam of: