Yasmeen Mjalli is a 21-year-old woman who carried forward the #MeToo movement to West Bank in Palestine. She did that by selling clothes with the slogan ‘Not Your Habibti’. That way, she managed to open up the discussion on gender equality in the Arab world. She also started a campaign in which she shared her personal experience with sexual intimidation.
As the project started to grow, she began to receive more and more comments, that, unfortunately, weren’t always positive. Her parents were against her project and many found that her battle was insignificant, because they thought that fighting against Israel was the real priority.
Her parents didn’t accept her actions. She quoted: “To be able to have peace with them, I have to check my feminism at the door, which is very difficult because that’s really who I am.”
What Yasmeen did wasn’t just putting letters on a piece of clothing for fashion. It is so much more than that. Often, women in Arabic countries are victim blamed. This means that the victim is the one that gets all the blame because they apparently provoked the offender. Those people either only focus on the way the victim was dressed or the way they spoke or they find some other excuse.
Another problem is that women are often afraid to report the offender because there is a possibility that a male family member will attack the offender. The consequence is that nobody will take action against those offenders and they’ll be able to continue their lives unpunished. It’s not fair.
There still are gender roles in muslim communities. The man is the breadwinner and the protector. The woman is the mother and the caretaker.
This is why we need more women like Yasmeen Mjalli, who will bring more awareness to the muslim communities. We need people who will stand against negative cultural practices. And we need strong women who stand up for themselves and other women, so that those women can find strength and finally lead their lives the way they want to.
This article was written and translated from Dutch by Tesniem Srouji. Tesniem is a 17 years old book addict, who loves to write and is in love with coffee.