Category: World Understanding Award
Antonio Faccilongo / Getty Images Reportage
Daniele Volpe / Freelance
Anastasia Rudenko / Freelance
Salvatore Esposito / Contrasto
“La Forza del Silenzio”
Habibi is a way to envision the effects of the Palestinian crisis on families through the story of prisoners’ wives who have turned to sperm smuggling in order to conceive children through in vitro fertilization (IVF) from their husbands who are serving long-term sentences in Israeli jails. Over the past 5 years, more than 70 babies have been born this way. There are around 7,000 Palestinians, classified as “security prisoners” with nearly 1,000 facing sentences of 25 years or more. Israel detains them if their alleged or convicted offenses are deemed threats, or potential threats, to national security. Conjugal visits are denied and Palestinian prisoners see their immediate family for just 45 minutes every two weeks, if at all. After a thorough body search, visitors are able to talk to their loved ones through a telephone from behind a glass window. Physical contact is forbidden, except for prisoners‚’ children, who are allowed 10 minutes at the end of each visit to embrace their fathers. During these short visitations, some of the prisoners have smuggled sperm to their kids. With the excuse of giving gifts to their children, the prisoners put their seminal fluid into empty pen tubes and hide them inside chocolate bars. This is the secret way prisoners’ sperm manages to leave the prisons, and is these women’s only hope for a family. Women in the IVF program believe that one day the prisoners will be released, and when they do return home, they should have a family waiting for them. I chose to work in this area that, too often, is shown only as a place of war and conflict. I felt the need to go deeply into the daily life of the Palestinian people, to reveal the struggle to preserve their human dignity, and try to understand and reveal the hidden realities. The choices made by these women have long term developments for themselves, the kids, and the extended families.