Rivers of Fatigue

The story of a mother about to give birth in prison.

Jerusalem24 – Hala alZuheiry (Translation: Mohammad Hamayel) – Aisha Al-Deek, the mother of the captive Anhar; which is Arabic for rivers, does not sleep and lives in a state of anticipation and fear for her daughter who may give birth at any moment. She told 24FM, “by God, my heart aches, my daughter is likely to be born by caesarean section, because she gave birth to her firstborn daughter by operation, and the doctors said that a repeat delivery by operation is more likely.”

On the fourth of August; Aisha managed to see her daughter for a moment in the courtroom, saying, “I barely saw her for a minute and she spoke in a low voice, and I didn’t even hear what she said.”

As for Anhar’s husband, he visited her at the beginning of last July, then the Israeli authorities decided to stop his permit.

Anhar Al-Deek with her first born child Julia
Anhar Al-Deek with her first born child Julia

Julia, Anhar’s firstborn daughter, is not yet two years old, and her grandmother makes sure that Julia watches her mother’s photos constantly.

The 25-year-old detainee, Anhar Al-Deek,  entered her ninth month of pregnancy, after the Israeli forces arrested her while she was pregnant in March 2021. The Prisoners Affairs Commission demanded the immediate release of Al-Deek, as she is pregnant and needs special medical attention and care.

Al-Deek had recently written a letter to her family, which we have attached below.

A letter written by Anhar al-Deek
A letter written by Anhar al-Deek

I greatly miss Julia, my heart aches for here and I wish to hold her close to me… The pain I feel in my heart is impossible to describe in words.

What can I do, If I give birth far from you all; handcuffed as I go through labour? You know what cesarian birth outside is, how will it be when I am bound and handcuffed alone? Oh God, I begging for your mercy… I very tired my life, sharp pains are felt in my pelvis and a strong pain in my leg from sleeping on the bunk bed, I do not know how I will sleep on it after my surgery… I don’t know how I will take my first steps after the operation as the prison guard holds my hand in disgust.

They will be placing me and my son in solitary confinement afterwards because of Corona, my heart aches for him. I don’t know how I will care for him and protect him from their terrifying voices. As strong as his mother is, she will weaken against what they will do to her and the other detainees.

Call on every free person, who has honor, to at the lease leave a word or step for this child whose life is in the hands of every official and person capable of helping but has refused todo so.

-Anhar Al-Deek, Palestinian detainee in an Israeli prison

Obsessions of a pregnant woman in the ninth month

In the eagerness to receive and embrace a child on the one hand, and the fatigue of pregnancy on the other. A woman, starting from the last third of pregnancy, lives with anxious feelings, fears and thoughts about childbirth and the health of the child. The fears of losing her baby, and the need for extreme physical and psychological care at this stage of her pregnancy.

These obsessions are accompanied by physical symptoms and fatigue that are associated with pregnancy.

But Anhar’s concerns differ, and the causes of her fatigue differ, including:

The Bunk

In her letters; Anhar describes her pains to her family and says that sleeping on the bunk is too exhausting, and she wishes someone could insert a comfortable “mattress” on which to lie.

The bunk is designated for male and female prisoners; It is made of iron, and consists of two levels, with a mattress that is very thin, uncomfortable and often not cleaned.

We spoke to the former detainee, Najwan Odeh, to describe the bunk and the effects of sleeping on it. She said that “The bunks in prisons, the prisoners’ beds, each of them is made up of two beds; one on top of the other.” She added that, “If the prisoner is sitting on the lower bunk, he or she must tilt their head forward, as the height between the beds is small. As for the detainee in the upper bunk, they must climb an iron ladder that is completely attached to both bunks together. Also, the distance between the adjacent arches is no more than 40 centimeters.”

I do not know if Anhar uses the upper or lower bunk. If she uses the upper bunk, how can she ascend to it and descend from it, while she is about to give birth. If she is using the lower one, how can she get out from between the bunks?!

What does she do to avoid the iron appendages at the corners?

-Najwan Odeh, former detainee

When asked if Al-Deek might roll up a blanket and place it between her legs, as some women would do with a pillow during their pregnancies; Odeh said, “often this is forbidden, as female prisoners are prevented from having more than one cover.”

Postpartum fears!

It is not only the moment of birth that Anhar fears; But what will happen to her and her child after that.

An isolated room awaits her and her child, an empty and cold room, and everything surrounding the circumstances of her pregnancy now leaves her with a state of anxiety and many questions about her fate and that of her son.

Where the pain of labor does not relieve the detainee of her bondage. But she is to give birth while handcuffed to the bed.

We add to all this that the Anhar al-Deek suffered from “bipolar depression.” Which is defined as a “Bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic depression, it is a mental health condition that causes excessive mood swings that include highs (mania or hypomania), and emotional (depression) dips.

Although bipolar disorder is a lifelong condition, mood swings and other symptoms can be controlled with a treatment plan. In most cases, bipolar disorder is treated with medication and psychological counseling (psychotherapy).

Through an interview with the Prisoners’ Commission’s lawyer, Anhar said, “the prison is not prepared for childbirth and child rearing. The conditions of the prison are very bad, and the child could develop epilepsy, as a result of counting, inspections, and knocking on windows, not to forget mentioning emergency situations. Adults can be terrified of these situations, imagine children.”

Similar experiences

It is noteworthy that Anhar al-Deek, is not the first to give birth in Israeli prisons. Samar Ibrahim Sobeih, a resident of Jabalia camp, received her firstborn child Baraa behind the bars of the cells. Intisar al-Qaq, gave birth to her daughter, Watan, in an Israeli prison. Majda Jasser al-Salaymeh, who gave birth to her daughter, “Palestine.” Omaima Al-Agha, who also gave birth to her daughter, Hanin, and many others who went through similar experiences.

 

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