A woman's memories from a minefield
Nabil Dowaikat - 27/11/2016
I am on my way to Kasserine Governorate, bursting with happiness. During the journey some excerpts of my life come to my mind, from childhood to the middle school, when I excelled over my classmates, but also the suffering I endured when I enrolled at the university and chose to major in journalism. Most people recommended me a different major, more suitable for a girl, but the obstinacy has always supported me until my graduation. Proud of myself and encouraged by my achievements, I was hoping to easily get a job.
The film of the memories flash before my eyes on the road to Kasserine, where the editors sent me to shoot an investigation into the terrible attack that took place there. While the driver hurtles fast to get us there as soon as possible, I and my colleagues speak of the function that each of us will have on site. Every now and then memories return with the details of the fatique of desperately looking for a job. I was making an infinite number of job applications and each time hopes were turning into disappointments that followed one another without an end and I, ever more determined, was planning new attempts. The frustration got the better of me only when I realized that many of my colleagues, less diligent than me in their studies, obtained positions and quickly began to emerge.
Before arriving at the attacked zone we encounter security blocks in various places. We manage to pass them all and reach the nearest point to the place where the soldiers were killed in the attack. We are among the first journalists to arrive on site. The adrenaline is sky high, a few steps away there's just been an attack and it is the first important assignment since I was hired weeks ago. The opportunity that I have been waiting a long time to prove myself has finally arrived.
We head directly to the entrance where the tense soldiers are in extreme alert. We show our press cards to get a pass and start shooting the place of the attack. The soldiers look at me inquiringly and make a nod to the lieutenant who begins scrutinizing us one by one, from head to toe, until it comes to me. While keeps staring asks pungently: "Which one of you will enter to shoot?" And I reply quick: "All, we all will enter". The lieutenant, who just shifted his gaze to my colleague, replies uncompromisingly: "No way". "Why? We are a team and we want to enter together", I insist. The discussion kindles and the tension increases because we are losing the opportunity to have the scoop and for me in particular it means to have my job weakened a priori. Eventually Lieutenant relents and gives permission to two of my colleagues. I try in vain to convince him that my presence as rapporteur of the investigation is crucial. The lieutenant tells me that the place is full of blood, and there are still some wounded soldiers that need to be taken away: it is hard to bear such a scene for me as a woman.
My feet get nailed to the ground when I hear the lieutenant utter the phrase: "This type of scene is not suitable for women". I wonder whether exactly this, the vision of such scenes, could be an example of the real causes that lead to discrimination of women and men. There is no doubt that it is a hard and bloody scene, but who told the lieutenant that I can not bear it?
While my colleagues continue to argue, I'm drowning in the sea of memories that recall each other: "This major is not suitable for a girl", "This job is not for you", or “Only men can do this kind of work” and so on. Suddenly I realize that our society culture is still steeped in discrimination from the very foundations. The woman is still a woman of that culture that raises distinctions and divisions in every aspect of daily life, making it similar to the progress that you make when you cross a minefield.