Academic journal article Journal of International Women's Studies

Women, Occupation, Collective Loss and Support: The Experience of "From a Bereaved Woman to Another"

Academic journal article Journal of International Women's Studies

Women, Occupation, Collective Loss and Support: The Experience of "From a Bereaved Woman to Another"

Article excerpt


This study derives its force from experiences of Palestinian women, occupation and loss project that aims at describing and understanding the role of holistic intervention based on the mutual support approach "from a bereaved woman to another." The qualitative method has been utilized, with a view to reaching an integrated description, analysis and explanation of the experience that has been documented in details, through using special documentation forms. The results reveal that changes have taken place to bereaved women and supportive bereaved ones, as a result of participation in support and through training meetings. The findings demonstrate that women have succeeded in expressing the memory and identity of loss and in being conscious of the Palestinian components. The experience of bereaved woman-to-bereaved woman, has proved effective and promising in the alleviation of the intensity of direct bereaved disorders. The study concludes that there is a dire need to develop this experience and provide it with societal and political legitimacy. It is expected that gender roles will be integrated and taken into account in describing, analyzing, explaining and evaluating issues of women and collective loss.

Keywords: Women, occupation, collective loss, social support


Going into the experience related to women, occupation, loss and support is a difficult task for professionals, but an experience undergone by bereaved women for the sake of bereaved women may be impossible. This impossible becomes realistic in the light of the project "Women, Occupation and Loss," where the current study tries to focus on its experience. This project and the study were carried out by the Women's Studies Center in Jerusalem and the Swedish association, Kvinna til Kvinna.

It is well known that the West Bank and Gaza Strip, since 1967, are under the Israeli occupation, and since the Oslo accords, the West Bank, in particular is under two authorities: the occupation authority and the Palestinian authority. During periods of significant resistance, such as the first Intifada that took place in the late 1987 and the second intifada, i.e. Al-Aqsa Intifada, that took place at the beginning of 2000, the Palestinian people faced and are facing the various arbitrary and several measures, such as fall of thousands of martyrs and wounded, arrests, torture, house demolitions and organized deportations. This is along with the establishment of a Palestinian authority (since 1996), which is trying to found structures of a state beside the presence of Israeli occupation.

It is expected that the occupation will affect women significantly compared to other categories. They suffer with their families in cases of arrest, injury, death of family members, blockade or demolition of their houses. Women are also mothers, sisters and daughters of bereaved women and men, or male and female detainees. These conditions lead to continuous loss, and in many cases women develop symptoms and/or post-loss disorders. These symptoms may appear after months or even years from the occurrence of the trauma.

More than that, because of the absence of the husbands, women are forced to bear the burdens and responsibilities of the families, and because of the conservative society, they are not prepared for these new roles. They are living in a frustrating patriarchal society, which silences women and deny their basic rights. These social realities double their sufferings in addition to their suffering from the repressive and arbitrary measures of the occupation.

Thus, political and military contexts produce documented statistics, where the number of martyrs killed since the outbreak of the "Al-Aqsa Intifada" (in the period between September 29, 2000, and December 31, 2009) in the three areas of the study is as follows: in Bethlehem area--140 martyrs, 15 of them are female martyrs. In Nablus area, the number of the martyrs is 568, including 31 female martyrs. …

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