When Jamileh Abu-Duhoupresented us with a copy of her book, and after quickly flicking through its pages and reading the table of contents, the first impression that raced to my mind was: I will read this book at some point in the future, not right now. With so much going on across the Arab landmass, I felt that the central theme of Jamileh’s book was somewhat peripheral.
Before I answer this question, I should say a brief word about the central theme of the book:
Broadly speaking, “Giving voices to the voiceless” is about gender-based violence against women in present-day Palestine. For those who are not very familiar with this problem, gender-based violence, in its widest sense, refers to any act that results in, or is likely to result in physical, sexu­al or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, co­ercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life. Gendered violence is not a rare oc­currence in armed conflict, and the prob­lem in Palestine is no exception.
If you think that gender violence in Pal­estine is insignificant, think again. A study published by the Palestinian Central Bu­reau of Statistics has revealed that:

61.7% of ever married women in the Palestinian Territory were exposed to psychological violence, 23.3% exposed to physical violence, and 10.9% exposed to sexual violence at least once by husband during the year 2005.

These numbers are astounding, and certainly demonstrate the dire need for change.
Any book that tackles a complex issue as that of gender-based violence and does so with incredible clarity and depth deserves attention and admiration. Jamileh’s book “Giving voices to the voiceless” deals with a very human problem by a very human writer and from a very human perspective. Jamileh succeeds not only in highlighting and explaining the problem of gender violence in Palestine, but also paves the way for understanding gendered violence beyond physical acts. She uses the voice of Palestinian women to explore the fac­tors that have allowed the ahistoricization of Palestinian women and reduced them to captives of moral and ethical codes, an­tiquated social conventions, and religious dogmas.
“Giving voices to the voiceless” offers the reader a detailed glimpse into another way of life, another time, on a personal level that traditional histories cannot match, and on a factual level that histori­cal fictions cannot achieve. It provides personal and social detail that often is dif­ficult to find elsewhere. It also provides a wonderful way to study the relationship between gender and violence by breaking down stereotypes and presenting innova­tive ways to judge the issues at hand.
A lucid, clear-eyed narrative of life in Palestinian territories, Jamileh’s book is an excellent primer on gender-based vio­lence in her original homeland. But what makes the book exceptional is the strong focus on the problem from a national per­spective. Thus, instead of treating gender violence as a strictly traditional and so­cial problem, as most past studies have done, Jamileh situates the problem within a broader national context and demon­strates, with compelling clarity, how the Israeli occupation and maltreatment of the Palestinian people is exacerbating the problem of gender violence. In this regard she observes:
The analysis of the roots and causes of violence against Pales­tinian women must take into con­sideration the effect of the Israeli occupation and the continuation of the violent political conflict.
Why? Because, under occupa­tion, "families become the pri­mary sufferers of violence as they are made to bear the brunt of the frustration that men suffer due to political oppression."
In “Giving voices to the voice­less” Jamileh offers ample exam­ples of this and many more of how the patriarchal system and the systematic and structural op­pression of the occupation are chocking the process of change. The result is a devastating effect on gender violence in general and women's life in particular.
“Giving voices to the voiceless” should be read by every person interested in Palestinian society, the patriarchal system, social in­equality, and Israeli oppression. It makes major contributions not simply to studies of human rights, but also to our knowledge of gen­der violence in Palestine and in the larger and plural region of the Middle East.
The book is an eye-opener writ­ten from a first-person perspec­tive. I certainly would recommend it.
Giving Voices to the Voiceless
Jamileh Abu-Duhou
Published by Berkshire Academic Press
ISBN: 9781907784040
Reviewer: Adel Beshara