Category Archives: Women’s rights

Grandmothers bear the brunt of Syrian orphan crisis

Publication: Al-Monitor

ZAATARI, Jordan — It has been years since Da’ed and her family fled Syria, but when her granddaughter asks where her mother and father are, the 60-year-old woman cannot find the right words to explain. In fact, Najoua, 4, still doesn’t know that her parents were killed by regime airstrikes in Daraa province two years ago. In total, 140 people were killed that day, including Najoua’s father and her pregnant mother.

For a brief second, Da’ed pauses, looks at her granddaughter and puts her hand on her chest. “My heart aches when I think of all the people I know who have died,” Continue reading Grandmothers bear the brunt of Syrian orphan crisis

Financial burden, risk of violence pressure Syrian girls to marry

Publication: Al-Monitor

MAFRAQ, Jordan — Her first husband was a 46-year-old man from Saudi Arabia who already had two wives. Once every few months, he traveled to Jordan for business, and during these visits he would talk to Fatima’s aunt about marrying another woman. Her aunt told him she had a suitable candidate in mind: her young niece. Initially, the girl’s father didn’t want his daughter to get married at such a young age, but when he found out that the Saudi man was wealthy and religious, he changed his mind.

It wasn’t really up to the bride-to-be to decide whether she wanted to marry this man. As the eldest daughter still living with her parents, she felt like a burden to them. The family had fled Homs to Jordan in 2013 because of the Syrian war, Continue reading Financial burden, risk of violence pressure Syrian girls to marry

Deel 1: Vrouwen in het kalifaat ‘Mama, ik ga’

Publicatie: De Groene Amsterdammer

Naar schatting 35 tot 50 jonge Nederlandse vrouwen zijn vertrokken naar het kalifaat van Islamitische Staat. Moeder Monique vond vorige week dochter Aïcha terug aan de Turks-Syrische grens. ‘Ik had niet verwacht dat ze nog zou leven.’ 

MONIQUE LEEFDE maanden op sigaretten en koffie. Slapen lukte amper, hooguit een paar uur per nacht. En als ze eenmaal sliep, hoorde ze haar roepen: ‘Mama, doe eens open.’ Maar haar negentienjarige dochter Aïcha (de naam die ze na haar bekering aannam) stond nooit voor de deur. Die woonde in Raqqa of Al Bab, Syrische steden die overgenomen zijn door islamitische militanten. Tenminste, dat vermoedde Monique, want van de ene op de andere dag werd Aïcha’s telefoon niet meer beantwoord en bleven de dagelijkse updates op Facebook achterwege. Continue reading Deel 1: Vrouwen in het kalifaat ‘Mama, ik ga’

European women convert, join IS

Publication: Al Monitor

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands — Vanessa, 19, was always a rebellious and spontaneous teen. Someone who liked being the center of attention and didn’t let anybody tell her what to do. After she became a teenager, she was always hanging around “tough boys” from school. They made her feel protected and safe. And just like other teens, she had boyfriends: Some were really nice, but others treated her badly.

“And when she had a nice boyfriend, she started calling him constantly, testing his limits. On the one hand she denounced rules. Continue reading European women convert, join IS

European women in the caliphate

Publication; Middle East Eye

Young European Muslim women who feel there is no place for them in society seek to find a world they relate to in IS-controlled areas in Syria.

“Dear daughter, where are you? My heart is aching because I don’t know where you are. Please, if you read this, let me know if you are OK. I love you. Xxx mama.’’

It is one of the countless messages that Anna Smit – not her real name – sent to her daughter. The last time she spoke with Aisha was six months ago during a telephone conversation in late March. The 18-year old Dutch Muslim told her mom that she was happy with her newlywed husband in Idlib, Syria, but that she really missed her. The connection was bad and there was a lot of noise in the background Continue reading European women in the caliphate

Domestic violence increases among Syrian refugees

Publication: Al Monitor

AL-KHALDEYA, Jordan — Even when Hamda was still living in the city of Homs, her husband used to hit her. This didn’t happen a lot, but occasionally, when he was stressed out or tired. Most of the time he wasn’t even at home, since he worked outside of Syria a lot, so Hamda didn’t consider it to be a problem.

However, things changed when the Syrian war broke out and their neighborhood was bombed. One of their seven children died during an attack. Hamda’s husband was still mourning his dead son when all of a sudden he lost his job. Continue reading Domestic violence increases among Syrian refugees

De Belgische vrouwen van de ISIS-strijders

Publicatie: De Tijd

De strijd van de radicale ISIS- rebellen in Syrië en Irak trekt ook Belgische en Nederlandse vrouwen aan. Vechten doen ze niet, wel het huishouden. Scènes met kalasjnikovs naast de pot choco delen ze op Facebook. En ze proberen hun lotgenoten in het Westen te overhalen om hen te vervoegen.

‘In Syrië zijn er meer vrouwen nodig om voor de strijdende mannen en kinderen te zorgen’, schrijft de Belgische jihadiste Umm Haniefa in een oproep op Facebook. Jong of oud, kinderen of niet, gescheiden of weduwe, dat maakt allemaal niets uit. Continue reading De Belgische vrouwen van de ISIS-strijders

‘Allahs vlag wappert in elke straat, zo zoet’

Publicatie: Parool

De jihad in Syrië trekt ook Nederlandse vrouwen. Strijden doen ze niet, wel het huishouden. Op sociale media delen zij informatie over het dagelijks leven en vragen zij anderen om ook te komen.

Volgens de Belgische vrouwelijke jihadist Umm Haniefa zijn er meer vrouwen in Syrië nodig om ‘voor de mannen en kinderen te zorgen’, zegt ze in een oproepje op Facebook. Leeftijd, kinderen, gescheiden of weduwe – dat maakt niet uit. Vrouwen die met een strijder willen trouwen, kunnen dit persoonlijk met haar bespreken. Continue reading ‘Allahs vlag wappert in elke straat, zo zoet’

Een warm welkom in Syrië

Publicatie: Parool

De Amsterdamse Khadija wilde altijd al in een islamitische staat wonen om daar volgens de regels van de islam te leven. In 2013 ging zij naar Syrië en trouwde daar een jihadstrijder. Nu is ze terug in Nederland.

Khadija had in Nederland ‘niets te klagen’. Haar jeugd was prima, zegt ze. “Wel vond ik het in Nederland steeds moeilijker worden voor moslims, ook door het huidige politieke klimaat, zoals nu met die uitspraken van Geert Wilders bijvoorbeeld,” Continue reading Een warm welkom in Syrië

European women find appeal in Syrian jihad

Publication; Al Monitor

AMSTERDAM — Khadija (not her real name) enjoyed a quiet life in the Netherlands, the country she grew up in. She had a place to stay and the opportunity to study.​ However, over the last couple of years, she found it more difficult as a devout Muslim and felt increasing hostility. ​

She came across images of black al-Qaeda flags in Syria on the Internet, and she found out that several Dutch Muslims had joined the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). They were talking about Sharia, creating an Islamic state Continue reading European women find appeal in Syrian jihad

Syrian women refugees humiliated, exploited in Turkey

Publication: Al-Monitor

REYHANLI, Turkey — Dima* is a confident 21-year-old with pale skin and big brown eyes. Her black headscarf is wrapped loosely around her head above her pink dress.

She has two small children and a husband, but he currently works as a cab driver in Lebanon. Every month, Adly sends her money. However, it has been hard to make a living as a refugee, prompting Dima to look for a job as well. Continue reading Syrian women refugees humiliated, exploited in Turkey

Verdwenen Syriërs

Publicatie: De Tijd 

De Syrische burgeroorlog maakte al minstens 110.000 doden en joeg 7 miljoen Syriërs op de vlucht. Ondertussen verdwenen tienduizenden anderen van de radar. Ze werden opgepakt en opgesloten in geheime gevangenissen. Wie vrijkomt, getuigt over gruwelijke martelpraktijken.

De Syriër Jad Bantha (32) woonde al een tijdje in het buitenland, maar keerde terug naar Damascus om met zijn vrienden deel te nemen aan de protesten tegen het regime van president Bashar al- Assad. Midden 2011 stond plots de Syrische geheime dienst voor zijn deur. Bantha belandde in de gevangenis. Continue reading Verdwenen Syriërs

Teenage Syrian refugees wed ‘for protection’


A wedding shop in Za’atari. PHOTO: BRENDA STOTER

Za’atari, Jordan – Fatima sits in a beauty salon getting her hair and make-up done by young female refugees. Their pink, white and blue dresses with lots of little fake diamonds are shining in the afternoon sun. Continue reading Teenage Syrian refugees wed ‘for protection’

Witnesses Recount Attack On Morsi Supporters

Written for Al-Monitor

CAIRO — In the makeshift field hospital in the al-Raba’a Adawiya Mosque, people are running, crying and comforting each other. Men walk around wearing bloodied clothing, and women wipe brown spots off the floor. Dirty bandages, empty IV bags and other first aid items are scattered around the place.

“It looks like a massacre happened, doesn’t it?,’’ a young nurse asks Al-Monitor. “We still can’t believe that so many Egyptians lost their lives. It’s horrible.’’ Continue reading Witnesses Recount Attack On Morsi Supporters

Egyptians Form Human Shields To Protect Female Protesters

Written for Al-Monitor

CAIRO- As violence against women protesting in Tahrir Square grew, Egyptians were taking measures to provide safety for the female protesters. In one instance, males have formed a human shield around women, so that attackers cannot get close to them. Continue reading Egyptians Form Human Shields To Protect Female Protesters