Manal’s second marriage, to a 75 year old man, was in 1993. Her husband had eight sons and three daughters from a previous marriage. Initially there were no problems and Manal and her husband lived with five of the sons in relative harmony. But their relationship soured when Manal became pregnant and the sons grew concerned about having to share their inheritance. Her husband initiated divorce proceedings but changed his mind and Manal continued nursing him until his death, aged 87.

One year after my husband died in 2004, his sons forced me out of the house. They said it was their house, that their father had sold it to them, and that I had no rights to claim what was theirs. They said that my son and daughter could live with them and they would bring them up. I felt I had served their father like a nurse for ten years and then they wanted to kick me out. Initially I did nothing. I worked to support my children, waiting until they were grown up as I wanted them to support me in claiming our rights.

In 2012, she was introduced by a mukhtar (traditional leader) to an NRC partner in Gaza, the Palestinian Center for Democracy and Conflict Resolution. The mukhtar and PCDCR tried to negotiate with the brothers but they would not budge. Manal then decided to take them to court. There have been three court sessions and an official notice has been published informing the three brothers who now live outside Gaza of her claim.

“I am still living in a small two-room rented house and the situation is bad for me and my children because I can’t work because of my health. But I am hopeful that I will get my rights and succeed in the end.”