113 Butterflies

113 Butterflies


Since I was a child I’ve always been very slim, doctors diagnosed me with a sort of assimilation issue that always characterised my childhood… I was quite jealous of my peers when their boobs started to grow giving to their bodies a graceful shape; my turn arrived much later on!


I was a skinny, curly haired tomboy who loved the outdoors, other children’s company and experiencing a sense of freedom. I enjoyed the parties of the Palestinian community that my dad used to organise in our house; they were so loud and spontaneous. It was from those parties that I learnt the value of sharing positive experiences with other people, as well as the value of listening to the stories of the Palestinian population who survived and resisted against Israel’s brutality. For me they were, and will always be heroes.


At the same time, I enjoyed my own company; I used to spend a good amount of time by myself, painting or reading endless books. I was able to isolate myself even when there was chaos around me.


I went to a primary school founded by Maria Montessori, a woman and a single mother who dedicated her whole life to the importance of education; she created the “House of the Children”, a safe space where youngsters could learn in a creative and stimulating environment. Her model of education is now being shared and used all over the world. When I became part of that school and I experienced what she created, I started to understand that women can do anything!


I didn’t really like adults that much though, that’s why they weren’t truly allowed into my world… I created a safe environment where my fantasy and passion for art could always find a way to save me from whoever or whatever tried to disrupt me.


Then one day I grew up. It happened really quickly, as quick as the pain you feel when your parents take off your first milk tooth; you don’t even have time to realise that it’s not there in your mouth anymore, you don’t even understand if it’s a good or bad thing that’s happening to you. It just happens and you have to get on with it. I assumed a more feminine shape and I started to get to know my own body. It was such an empowering feeling!


Then you start to discover the magnificence of being a woman and the growing connection between your body and Nature. Your sensitivity grows together with your beauty, your doubts and melancholies make you even more interesting, more charming and absolutely irresistible. You’re brave enough to embrace the fullness of yourself, because we are the most astonishing and powerful work of art that Nature could ever create, and the more we grow up, the more we become aware of this.


I’ve decided to dedicate this article to the 113 women who were killed by men in the UK last year. The latest Femicide Census report, published in December 2017, reveals that nine in ten women killed that year were killed by someone they knew, 78 women were killed by their current or former intimate partner and 65 of those were killed in their own home or the home they shared with the perpetrator.


For me these women followed a similar path to that of a butterfly. They grow and evolve to become a beautiful and colourful creature, but they will live such a short life before they die. The only difference is that butterflies are following a natural circle, whereas these women’s end to life was decided for them. Can it be that we are too beautiful or too limitless to deal with? To kill something or someone so beautiful doesn’t make sense. No matter how many words will be written for them, the facts remain the same.


I would also like to refer these words to those of us who are still trying to fly, even if it seems impossible to do so. I’d like to think that this platform would give a chance to us women, to open a small glimmer of hope and share the deepest experiences without feeling judged or ashamed, because there shouldn’t be any shame in being the most fascinating creature of the world.


Women’s Aid – The Femicide Census

Link to support or information about violence towards women

Written by Laila Gaber

Illustration by Bethany Burgoyne

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