Op-Ed via Al Jazeera English

Patriarchy in Palestine

In late November, a 16-year-old girl called Yara Ayoub from the Galilee village of al-Jish went missing. A few days later, her mutilated body was found in a dumpster. Two suspects - a 28-year-old man and his father - were arrested on the charge of the murder.

Thousands of Palestinians from the girl's village and from the surrounding areas attended her funeral. The outpouring of grief was palpable and people marched in the funeral procession wearing stickers reading "Yara in our hearts".

Since news of the murder spread, many Palestinians across historic Palestine have been consumed by discussions on social media about violence against women and the harms of patriarchy. There have also been demonstrations in Nazareth, Sakhneen, Haifa and Jaffa, all calling for an end to violence against women.

Patriarchy in Palestine exists as it does elsewhere in the world as a system that upholds male dominance and male hierarchies. It enforces gender binaries and stereotypes in order to preserve the current power structure. While the patriarchy affects everyone, its violent manifestations disproportionately affect women.

To paraphrase Canadian novelist Margaret Atwood, men are most afraid of women laughing at them and women are most afraid of being killed by men. This fear gets internalised - consciously or not - in our everyday behaviour.

In the streets, we often have to choose between putting headphones on and listening to music so we don't have to hear verbal harassment or staying alert in case someone tries to creep up on us. At night, we often hold keys in our hands as a weapon in case someone attacks us. Some of us also have to worry about abuse and violence within the family and our social circles.

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