Report from Syria: Women Combat an Oppressive Regime Online, On the Ground, and Sometimes Armed
An image that has become synonymous with the Syrian uprising -- any Syrian you speak to knows its intricate details -- is of a woman in a blood-red dress (blood being a very important sartorial detail) standing outside the parliament building in Damascus, holding a sign that says: "Stop the killing. We want to build a home for all Syrians." The woman, Rime Dali, has been detained and released several times by the Syrian government for protesting in this way, but she continues, undeterred, to broadcast her message. This image has become a symbol of the desire by many Syrians to express themselves freely, whatever the cost.
With the uprising rapidly descending into civil war and with the media transmitting images of young men with AK47s rather than placard-waving crowds, the weapons could easily supplant the woman in our collective consciousness. Syria's media war is being waged with gory images from the ground. But preconceived notions about subservient Middle Eastern women could lead the world to assume that there have been no women active on the ground in Syria. This is simply not true: we're just not looking hard enough.
Rodaina Eeesa Abud sits in a plush apartment in the northern Jordanian town of Irbid. She wears a long, elegant black dress with a black woven chiffon headscarf and gold jewelry. She pulls out her iPhone on which a video shows 20 women, their faces covered in beautiful patterned scarves, wielding AK47s as they stand proudly in their stilettos. These fighters are members of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), from the southern town of Dara'a.