A 22 year-old, Madleen Kullab, is the only female fisher in Gaza, State of Palestine. The first time she took to the sea with her father, she was just six years old.
It was not her choice to follow her father’s path as she dreamed of becoming a fashion designer, but fate had a different plan for her.
When she was 13, her father was diagnosed with acute myelitis, an inflammation of the spinal cord, and he lost his ability to work. And Madleen Kullab made the decision to pick up her father’s fishing gear.
Madleen, recalling her good old days, told Al Jazeera,
“The first time I went fishing by myself, on a motor boat, was frightening … but I picked it up pretty quickly,”
In an industry dominated by men, Kullab faced multiple challenges, including the physical strength needed for the job. But she combatted by proving her fishing prowess. She learned by heart all the different types of local fish, the best times to cast a line, what kinds of rods and hooks to use, and what types of fish are most affordable for Palestinian families in Gaza.
At night, Kullab prepares her nets. In the morning, she pulls her boat out into the water. then as a passion, and now as a profession at which she excels.
Though she was forced into pursuing fishing, eventually, it became her passion, and now it is a profession at which she excels.
Like the rest of Gaza’s 4,000 fishermen, Kullab has struggled to make ends meet in the Israeli-defined nine-nautical-mile fishing area.
When they stray outside of this zone, fishermen have been fired upon with live ammunition, had their equipment seized or been arrested by Israeli forces.
Kullab has experienced such harassment on multiple occasions. Her boat has been shot at directly, and she has been screamed at through a loudspeaker by the Israelis in broken Arabic: “Go from here, you girl!
Now, she is looking for a way out of the industry, in the meantime, Kullab also says that she would love to see other women from Gaza follow in her footsteps as a fisherwoman.
I’d love to see more women joining me in this career.This would help to lift the burden of social pressure and criticism from my shoulders.