Following intervention by MAAN, women at the checkpoint report a sense of security
In conversations with MAAN’s women’s field coordinator, Wafa Tiara, numerous Palestinian women workers expressed satisfaction with the dramatic change at the Sha’ar Ephraim checkpoint, which ended the phenomenon of sexual harassment they suffered for a long time.
Last September the women turned to MAAN for help. A field activist of MAAN made the connection and convinced the women to approach MAAN as they did not believe that anyone would take action on their behalf. The women complained that the entrance gate to the checkpoint – a gate intended for women only – became a trap in the early morning hours. Each day, a number of men – workrs on their way to work – entered the gate and took advantage of the darkness and crowding to sexually harass them while waiting for the checkpoint to open.
MAAN contacted the Crossing Points Authority in this matter and even though it claimed this area was not its responsibility, the issue was dealt with immediately: a prominent sign was placed making it clear that it was for women only, and guards were posted to prevent men from entering.
We checked with the women again after more time had passed, to ensure these changes remained and the desired result was achieved. The women we spoke with confirmed the harassment has stopped, that they feel safe, while one of them described this new situation as a “celebration of freedom”. “I wouldn’t expect there to be a change,” she added, “We’ve gotten used to complaining and having no one listen. We feel this new situation is like a dream.”
The women also expressed gratitude to the checkpoint management for the changes made. They noted that even after an end was put to the sexual harassment in the area of the checkpoint’s entrance gate, there continues to be eye contact between the men inside the checkpoint and the women. The women want to end the resulting unpleasantness.
MAAN is working with women and men workers at the Sha’ar Ephraim checkpoint to settle this issue as well.