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PA TV highlights problem of devaluing girls and women in Palestinian society
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PA TV highlights problem
of devaluing girls and women
in Palestinian society

by Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik

Palestinian TV is highlighting the problem of devaluing girls and women in Palestinian society by broadcasting a daily public service ad since the end of October that negatively portrays a man who is not concerned with the pain his wife is suffering in labor, or with the birth of his new daughter.

The ad opens with a woman having labor pains and asking her husband, who is watching TV, to take her to the hospital. He refuses, saying that since they are expecting a fifth girl, it is not urgent and can wait until the morning. The woman eventually collapses in agony. At the hospital the doctor informs the father that because of the delay the baby died. The father tells the doctor: "It's not so bad, she has four more sisters." When the doctor informs him that the baby was a boy, the father breaks down in sorrow.

The ad ends with the following quote:
"The Prophet said: Whoever has three daughters and he remains patient with them, provides for them and clothes them they shall be a shield for him from the Hellfire." [Hadith 3669]
 
The ad is produced by a Palestinian NGO -- The Palestinian Association for Family Planning and Protection -- and funded by MDG Achievement Fund, a UN program funded by a grant from the Spanish government.

The stated aim of MDG Achievement Fund's "Gender Equality" program is to "promote Palestinian women's social, economic and political empowerment. It will aim to reduce all forms of gender-based violence by enhancing and increasing women's political voice; increasing their opportunities to obtain decent and productive work and improving their access to protection and justice."
[http://www.mdgfund.org/country/occupiedpalestinianterritories]

Sadly, the video in the ad does not give a clear message regarding women's value. The lesson the man learns is that he should have taken his wife to the hospital when she went into labor - not because of her value and right to medical care and the daughter's right to life - but because the baby may turn out to be a boy.

PA TV is under the direct control of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

Palestinian Media Watch has reported on the promotion of equal opportunity for women in the PA.

The following is a transcript of the public service ad:
Wife (in pain): "Ahmad, Ahmad! Come, take me to the hospital, I'm about to have the baby. Ahmad!"
Husband watching TV: "Yes."
Wife: "Ahmad, I can't, I feel like I'm really about to give birth."
Husband (walks in to wife): "Hold on until the morning. How can I take you now, in the middle of the night?"
Wife (grimacing): "Take me now!"
Husband: "Allah will help you. Hold on a bit more. What are we hurrying for, for a fifth girl?"
The wife collapses and falls over on bed.
In the hospital:
Husband: "Doctor, what's happening?"
Doctor: "Allah willing, it'll be fine. Your delay in getting to the hospital affected the health of the mother and baby. Thanks to Allah, we were able to save the mother, but we weren't able to save the baby. May Allah compensate you with another child."
Husband: "Bless you, doctor. It's not so bad, she has four more sisters."
Doctor: "She has four sisters? But the baby was a boy!"
Husband (with shocked expression): "A boy?"
Doctor: "Yes, a boy."
Husband: "What are you saying, doctor? Are you really saying it was a boy?"
The husband collapses on the floor, holding his head in sorrow.
 
At the end the following text appears:
"The Prophet said: Whoever has three daughters and he remains patient with them, provides for them and clothes them they shall be a shield for him from the Hellfire." [Hadith 3669]
[PA TV (Fatah), daily since Oct. 27, 2010]