Middle East

Palestinian women fight elections name 'censorship'

My name is Rawan Nafez al-Shawa. My mum's name is Reem and my only sister's name is Intisar. Image copyright Rawan Nafez al-Shawa

With Palestinian municipal elections delayed, authorities will now have time to fix a contentious issue surrounding the names on the candidate lists.

Some of the literature used for the polls in the West Bank and Gaza that were scheduled for October had replaced the names of female candidates with "sister of...", "wife of..." or just their initials.

The issue first rose to prominence at the end of August when female voters and candidates started using a hashtag to voice their dissent and to call for women's names to be properly represented.

Image caption The hashtag translates as "our names should not be covered"

There is no direct translation for the Arabic word at the end of the hashtag, but in this context it can be read to mean "our names are not shameful" or "our names should not be covered".

Dania H Alatmnah makes a strong defence of her right to her name, saying: "My name is Dania and I am so proud of it and I will always keep saying it.

"My name was mentioned twice in the Quran. Your minds are flawed #ournamesarenotshameful."

Image copyright DAnia

"The name of the bride is often absent from wedding invitation cards and substituted with her initials," according to Al-Monitor, a news website from the Middle East.

Journalists from the website also spoke to Amal Habib, the presenter of a show dedicated to women on the Hamas-run Al-Aqsa TV channel.

"I think it's shameful that some people still believe that women's names should be omitted," Amal Habib said.

"I'm shocked at this culture and how it was embraced. Women should be called by their names out of respect and our names should not be hidden.

"It is the right of every woman to participate in all political and government institutions, in accordance with Palestinian law," she adds.

Sometimes simply saying your name makes a powerful statement as Rawan Nafez al-Shawa's Facebook post shows.

Image copyright Rawan Nafez al-Shawa

Her post translates as: "My mum's name is Reem and my only sister's name is Intisar.

"My aunts' names are: Rabab, Ghada, and my other aunts to my dad are Randa, and Raghda. My grandmas' names are Intisar and Nusra.

"May God give them the long life," she writes, ending with the hashtag #ournamesshouldnotbecovered.

But it's not just women who are outraged by being erased from the elections. The top-rated post on Facebook is a proud show of support from a man.

Image copyright Mohamed

He writes: "My name is Mohamed, my late mother's name is Najma, my wife's name is Iman.

"My daughters' names are Hebabtallah and Lamia. My sisters are Laila, Lamia, Sanaa, and Samah. I am proud of all of them and I am proud of my family, relatives and friends."

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