observations and opinion
The most famous surfer in Gaza, is a girl. But in Gaza, her body is her crime and her prison too.
Turns out, Gaza has a beach. And the surfing is good, too.
The most famous surfer in Gaza is Sabah Abu Ghanim. Her dad taught her the sport. She’s famous because she is good and of course, because she is a girl.
And she’s even more famous now because she is retiring. At 17 she is just too old to keep surfing.
That might be news to the octogenarian dudes still riding their boards on the California coast, but Gaza ain’t Malibu.
Gaza is governed by an oppressive Islamist regime, and its beliefs do not accept that a young woman can go surfing. A little girl, yes, – who cares? Kids aren’t the eye candy that “The Authorities” are worried about.
And of course, a woman riding free on a surfboard might inspire more than tingling male loins. She might inspire another woman to…well, do anything. That’s not part of the program in Gaza.
Apparently, Hamas’ views are also in keeping with the way many families operate. In Sabah’s household, her parents say it is inappropriate for a young woman to be on display at a beach, engaging in such a sport. She should be married and serving inside her husband’s house, they say.
Even if they feel differently, they don’t say differently. And neither does Sabah.
Sabah, like women everywhere whose personal desires clash with the expectations of those around her, tries to accept a painful loss graciously. Her comment to a radio reporter, is both diplomatic and tragic:
“I wish I could go back to being a child” she says.
What kind of world is it, when a woman wishes she were a child, so that she could do the simple things in life that make her happy? I will tell you what kind of world: a male world.
A world where women are enslaved by the demands of others. A world where a woman’s perceived sexuality becomes the reason to lock her up. Where her body becomes her crime and her prison too.
The story, as reported by National Public Radio, is here.
NPR deserves great credit for its creative, sensitive and intelligent reporting. It is an asset to the whole world.
This song is about another surfer girl, in another place …