‘It’s not just men fighting the war in Syria; it is women, too, and they feel forgotten’

The Observer reports: Who would want to be a woman in Aleppo? The female population of Syria’s second city find themselves threatened both by the murderous misogynists of Islamic State (Isis) and the Russian allies of the president, Bashar al-Assad, whose bombing raids mean that now even bad weather offers the city no respite.

“Before, Assad’s forces were not able to drop their bombs when it was raining or cloudy, so those were days we were glad to see,” said Zaina Erhaim, a documentary filmmaker from Aleppo. “But now the Russians have come and they can bomb in these conditions, so there is no relief any more from the death that comes from the sky.”

Amid the carnage and suffering, Erhaim has just completed a documentary that attempts to a tell a story that was in danger of being forgotten: the story of the women who chose not to leave, but to stay and help a city to survive its darkest hour.

“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. “Our patriarchal traditions now have guns,” she says.

“Despite the insult the word implies, I’m not bothered any more by those who call me hurma, suggesting weakness, dependency, minor, his pleasure tool, his property, his possession,” she said. Erhaim is project co-ordinator and trainer with the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) in Syria. [Continue reading…]

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