young man recounts the “proposal” he received for a trip to Israel

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Bernardita Pavani

In 2014, Bernadette Pavani accompanied his parents, who are very believers, to make a pilgrimage through Israel. The trip, strictly speaking, included guided tours of cities such as Tel Aviv, Nazareth, Bethlehem, Jerusalem and Rome, and they did so with the idea of ​​”stepping on the paths that Jesus Christ traveled”, although on the way they had an unpleasant surprise. In a market in Jerusalem, her mother was offered 600 camels for her, who at the time was only 17 years old.

The young woman brought up the subject on Twitter after Facebook reminded her of a post she had made eight years ago, when the family shared pictures of the trip with their friends. “My family is Catholic and the reason for the trip was a Catholic pilgrimage. Sacred places for Catholicism were visited, but we also had visits to places more typical of Judaism and others more of the Muslim culture, ”she told THE NATION. After so many years since the traumatic episode that impacted her happened and that she had only reported in her family nucleus and her school, she decided to remember that situation related to an anthropological practice, experienced by many tourists in some countries of the Middle East.

“I was with my mom and dad at Israelwhere we visited several cities. They had gone to Israel in 2012, they liked it a lot and came back [en 2014] and they wanted to take me. So, we went again and visited several cities”, he continued. The episode happened in the Jerusalem Market, in the Muslim part of the city, she was 17 years old, says the young woman who is now 25 years old.


Photo: Special

With an image where she is seen smiling minutes before experiencing the traumatic situation, Bernadette tries to explain the context in which the confusing episode took place. “The market is quite narrow to walk through, and it has quite a few stalls. We were with my dad and my mom because it was a day off from the excursion and we decided to visit non-Catholic parts of Jerusalem, that’s why we went into the market in this part, ”she extended. The young woman explains that on these trips they always recommend women not to go alone to this type of place, in addition, that if they do the tour they should wear loose clothing, long sleeves and cover the entire body. “At that time it was very hot, so I had long, loose pants,” she explained.

In an instant, her father came forward and she was left alone with her mother in a local. “My dad was ahead, I was with my mom seeing different places. I started to see a little stand, in that, when we were looking at things and the person who attended the stand begins to look at me a lot. There it is quite common for men to look at you all the time, without a filter. The man who was running the stall grabs my hand, looks me in the eye and starts to say to my mom: ‘How many camels for her? (How many camels for her?)”, my mom doesn’t speak English. Look and we were both shocked because the guy was grabbing my arm and pulling me, ”she reconstructed.

The moment became increasingly distressing for her and her mother, who did not understand what was happening. “My mom doesn’t answer and then she continues: ‘One hundred [100 camellos] and since my mom doesn’t answer, he starts yelling: ‘Two hundred, three hundred, four hundred [200, 300, 400 camellos]. He starts upping the ante until he finally says, ‘Six hundred’ [600 camellos] and start screaming [otra vez]. ‘Six hundred camels for her [600 camellos por ella]’. My mom asks me: ‘What’s going on Bernadette? I told her: ‘Mom, he is offering you 600 camels for me,'” he recounted part of the episode.

During that moment in which the two remained silent while the man, about 50 years old, awaited a response from his mother, he says, she was stunned by what she was experiencing. She “she was pale. Not only did I get very nervous, but the guy kept grabbing my arm and my mom was looking at this whole situation that she didn’t understand and she yelled at my dad: ‘Come’”, she narrated. After the tense moment, her father intervened, told her “no” and they quickly left the place. “It was a very rare situation. I felt bad, shocked! ”, She tried to describe the situation.

“A barter”

At that moment, Bernadette She was still at school and she pointed out that when she got back she told the teachers about it, because in sociology classes they always talked about the cultural differences between countries and she brought up this example. “Whether it was a joke or not, for me it was very strong that they do it to me. She was just getting to know the world and she couldn’t believe that a person would make a joke out of this. If it was that, aside from the insanity with which she did it, it was pretty ugly. I was quite shocked,” she says.

The young woman, she maintained, did not know how to react to this situation, because she did not have the tools to respond and she became paralyzed. During the episode, Bernadette He understood that it was “a barter”, although he never knew if it was a joke, but there it is considered as a kind of exchange of a common practice between families.

“For me, being so young, that impacted me so much, because it is like putting a value on a person, and how they offer it to you is strong,” she added. The day before, the family had traveled to Jericho, a city in the middle of the desert, where there are Bedouins [árabes nómadas]who usually make this type of barter that consists of “the purchase of the bride”. The photo he shared on Twitter Bernadette It was precisely in that destination, where they had arrived warned about these practices. “Nothing happened to me there. Everything was fine. But after I shared the story, they say that in a lot of places in the East it happens. Especially, in Egypt, but I did not go there”, he added.

On the other hand, the young woman clarified that this has nothing to do with an issue of Israel, but that it happens in several countries, since being something cultural transcends “geography”. She also explained that “her trip to Israel was beautiful,” and that this situation did not overshadow what she experienced during the pilgrimage to which her parents invited her.

“It is good to expose yourself to different cultures to understand that the world around us is different from what we are used to. This was ugly, it was an anecdote, but it was a very culturally rich trip for my age. I learned a lot. It’s good to travel and go out, accompanied. I would not cancel going to Israel because I went through this, but I would take precautions” she affirmed and recalled several episodes that she observed during the pilgrimage.

Over time, the young woman became involved in feminist debates and has to fight with the comments of people who argue that in Argentina “it makes no sense to be a feminist”, because there are things that do not happen here. “You have to see the full screen, because if this situation happened to me, it means that a lot of things happen to women every day, and you have to work to change it,” she concluded.

A culture issue

There are those who say that the “proposed exchange of camels for women” is just a joke that lasts over the years. There are those who affirm that the merchants “attach themselves like burrs to their potential buyers” and in an attempt to “fall nice and loosen up the client, they have a scene prepared” that includes the women who accompany the families. The vendors then “play” to exchange them to their husbands or boyfriends for many camels, as a dowry, which is actually given to the man.

The truth is that the purchase or sale of the bride is an anthropological custom that was made between the family of the groom and the bride with the sole intention of arranging a marriage and improving the heritage of a house. It is said that as a result of this kind of barter or exchange, the woman becomes considered “property” for her husband and his family, so in some cases, it can even be resold. These types of awkward situations are frequently experienced by tourists traveling to Middle Eastern countries that have a deep-rooted culture.

*The Grupo de Diarios América (GDA), to which it belongs THE UNIVERSALis a leading media network founded in 1991 that promotes democratic values, an independent press, and freedom of expression in Latin America through quality journalism for our audiences.

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