Women's Film Festival in Gaza Touches on Sexual Taboos

The Gaza-based women's film festival has daringly screened films addressing women's issues that are considered taboo in this conservative society, including sexuality and harassment.

al-monitor The film crew of "Where Do We Go?" shoots in Zawya market in Gaza City, July 2010. Photo by Center for Women's Affairs.

Topics covered

sexual harassment, movie, honor crime, gaza strip, conservative, censorship

Oct 8, 2013

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Hymens, sexual harassment and honor crimes are taboo subjects usually kept under the rug in Gaza. The Through Women’s Eyes film festival organized by the Palestinian Women’s Affairs Center was dedicated to films directed by women who addressed these delicate issues. Taking place on Oct. 2-3, the film festival was held in the Rashad al-Shawa auditorium in Gaza City. Although the quality of these works paled in comparison to featured Arab and foreign films, they were nonetheless among the most controversial.

Wedding night

“Red Stain” is a five-minute short feature film that looks at the wedding night through the lens of traditions in different communities. On this night, a woman is supposed to bleed as a sign of her virginity, though this did not happen for the female lead in the film. As a result, she was forced to endure her husband’s anger and looks of suspicion cast by those around her. Soon enough, the shame that had beset the bride turned into pride when, after visiting a doctor with her mother-in-law, the report confirmed that she was a virgin and that her hymen exhibited a certain elasticity requiring surgical intervention to be broken.

Rima Mahmoud, the director of the film, told Al-Monitor that many people had discouraged her during the making of the film, saying, “They warned me of presenting such a sensitive subject. The attacks began when some young men threatened to file a lawsuit against me, based on the claim that the film inflicted wrongdoings against them,” she explained.

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