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Khetam Bneyan



OUTSIDE SYRIA, In a Safe Location (WOMENSENEWS)–Twenty-two days after getting out of prison, or living hell. Twenty-two days, I’ve been close to total hysteria from what happened. The comments I get from people are nonstop: “It will pass.” “It’s normal; you’ll forget in a few days.”

It hasn’t passed, and I haven’t forgotten what happened, and what is happening in there now, still, right this very minute.

I haven’t forgotten Um Tim, who’s 25 years old. The deputy ordered her to his office at 2 a.m. She came back to us in shock from being savagely raped twice in a row. I haven’t forgotten her face, her tears, her “oh God, oh God.”

I haven’t forgotten the face of Mona al-Wadi when they told her she would be executed the following day at 10 a.m.

I haven’t forgotten the voice of Wala Kayyal, 20 years old, when she told me, “Look at my back; he beat my back.” I haven’t forgotten the beat marks and bruises on your back, Wala.

I haven’t forgotten how your body spasmed, Alham from al-Muhasan, when you went into your first epileptic fit, or how the warden spewed curses at you, “You’re faking, get up, you nothing.”

I haven’t forgotten you, Thana Salman, also called Um Awoush, 45 years old, when you stopped breathing from a stroke and we screamed and we pounded the door for a doctor for you, but no life stirred from those we were calling. Nor have I forgotten your tears pouring for your children; I haven’t forgotten you, like a mother to me.

Um Awoush. Um Tim. Mona Wadi. Thana Salman. Alham from al-Muhasen. Sara Husain. Samira Shaghuri. Abir Khazandar.

Many of these women are still imprisoned to this day in that living hell.

Their faces follow me. Their pain stays in my ears. They are everywhere I look, calling, screaming. They have no one to make their voices reach, except those who were imprisoned with them and have since been released, just by a stroke of God’s grace. I will not forget these women. They are in a living death behind bars.  Be with them, God.

Translated with permission from Khetam Bneyan’s FaceBook posting in Arabic on Feb. 3, 2013.