I have had the opportunity to travel. In most places I avoided touristy destinations in an effort to find and experience worlds unique from my American ones. Very few pleasure vacations are more raw than winding down Turkish back roads guided only by a piece of paper that you hope was translated into Turkish correctly.
Time published a series of photographs from photojournalists covering the conflict in Syria between the Assad regime and the rebels. They are powerful: a collection of the journalists favorite images.
Perhaps more than anything I have shocked at the resilience of these people. The above image is of a man returning home to his family with his groceries. He has to run across the street to avoid the sniper haunting the street.
I’m not sure if it is because I have seen the beauty of these foreign place that I ache for those thrown into the wars. Maybe it’s because I have no way of really comprehending the world the Syrian rebels are currently living and these journalists images have succeeded in moving their audience that I find myself wishing I could be there photographing the situation. It feels more concrete, like these people and their cameras are doing more to help resolve this situation than anything I can do from my padded chair in America.
As the atrocities in Syria continue I have repeatedly heard the world call to and plead with Asma al-Assad to do something. As the first lady in Syria, educated in Britain and modern and glamorous in every way, she has stood as a beacon to the women of her country and the surrounding area. Not only has she represented the potential of woman in her country she has come out as a spoken advocate for women’s betterment and human rights. And yet her silence is a stronger statement of the regime than any crazy statement left from Bashar al-Assad.
That is what I find so striking. Her inability to do anything shows more about the region’s affect on women’s rights than it does on her personal strength and conviction. She stood a progressive ground on women’s rights and education but at the time where her country needs her to become the women she claimed to fight for, she disappeared. A sad realization for everyone that she was simply a facade used by the Syrian government to keep the people happy. The most difficult truth to accept is realizing how far women of the region need to fight before they reach a level of rights on par to what we expect in this day and age.
I look at countries such as Germany and the United States where some of the most powerful and influential women are not only respected, but actively listened to. The men and women in these countries work side-by-side with Hillary Clinton, they look up to Angela Merkel’s leadership and they do it knowing these women have proven their abilities in a country open to their strengths.
While Asma stands silenced, whether from her own choice or the State’s, we do not know. But the fact she has been unheard* after the global call for her help says to me she is under the fist of the government and the rebels fighting to bring Bashar’s government down have more power to make change than she does.
*The Times reportedly received an email from her on 8/2/12 saying she stands behind him as supporter of the President of Syria. This to me does not break her silence since I view this as another empty action of the State’s pawn. She, the woman who stood for so much good and hope, has not spoken.