The photographer exposes the sobering reality of life in a Palestinian women’s shelter
Taken from the February issue of Dazed & Confused:
This image of “Abeer” (not her real name) is part of Samar Hazboun’s project Hush, which documents the residents of a Palestinian women’s shelter. Her work is showcased on online platform Firecracker, which champions the work of fearless female European photographers like Nadia Sablin and Jo Metson Scott.
“There are four shelters in Palestine. This girl has been in one of them for maybe four or five years because she was being sexually abused by her brother. I think it was when her brother was raping her that she ran away, then the police found her and took her immediately to the shelter. He not only sexually abused her and raped her, he also used to torture her all the time, tie a rope around her neck and rape her in front of their mother and just do nasty things to her. The problem is that her brother works with the police, so she was not able to report him.
I’m from Bethlehem and our town is now completely isolated because of the separation wall. A lot of girls have had to give up education because before the wall was built, going to university would take them 15 minutes by car. Now it takes an hour and a half or there are soldiers who harass the girls. A lot of families don’t want their girls to come home late or can’t afford to pay for these travel costs.
“The project was very, very emotional. You start to take strength from these girls"
I started volunteering at the shelter and created a game for the girls where we would have study group and I would go there and spend time with them. We would talk about emotions and feelings and we would write. I would help them with positive thinking. I would encourage them. Just exercises to help you feel better about yourself and help you to relieve some stress. After one session, one of the girls came to me and she hugged me and said, ‘We’re really happy you’re doing this for us, this means a lot to us.’
This project was very, very emotional. You just start to take strength from these girls. I’m not saying they’re really happy, but a lot of them are trying to make the best out of what is happening to them. They deserve a second chance and they aren’t really getting it.”