In 2014, Bernadette Pavani accompanied her parentswho are very believers, to do a pilgrimage through israel. The trip, strictly speaking, included guided tours of cities such as Tel Aviv, Nazareth, Bethlehem, Jerusalem and Romeand they did with the idea of ”stepping on the paths that Jesus Christ traveled”, although along the way they had an unpleasant surprise. In a market in Jerusalem they offered her mother 600 camels for herHe was only 17 years old at the time.
The young woman brought up the subject in Twitter after Facebook reminded him of a post he 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 Muslim culture,” he told THE NATION. After so many years since the traumatic episode that impacted her and that she had only reported in her family and at school, decided to remember that situation related to an anthropological practice, which many tourists live in some Middle Eastern countries.
“I was with my mom and dad in 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 and at 17 years old, says the young woman who is now 25 years old.
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, 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, ”he 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 the tour be done with loose clothing, long sleeves and that cover the entire body. “At that time it was very hot, so I had long, loose pants,” he explained.
In an instant, his father Eduardo went ahead 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 attended the stand grabs my hand, looks me in the eye and begins to say to my mother: How many camels for her? [¿Cuántos camellos por ella?]”my mom doesn’t speak english. Look and we were both shocked because the guy was grabbing my arm and pulling me, “he 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 continues: ‘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 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 happening Bernadette? I told her: ‘Mom, she is offering you 600 camels for me’”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. “I 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 He yelled at my dad: ‘Eduardo, come’”narrated. After the tense moment, Eduardo intervened, told him “no” and they quickly left the place. “It was a very rare situation. I felt bad, shocked! ”, She tried to describe the situation.
At that time, Bernadette was still at school and she pointed out that when she returned 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, apart from the dementia with which he did it, it was quite ugly. I was quite shocked,” he says.
The young woman, she maintained, did not know how to react to this situation, because had no tools to respond and froze. During the episode, Bernadette understood that it was “a barter”, although she never knew if it was a joke, but there it is presented 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 personand how they offer it to you is strong,” he added. The day before the family had traveled to Jerichoa city in the middle of the desert, where there are bedouins [árabes nómadas]who are accustomed to doing this type of bartering, which consists of “bride shopping”. The photograph that Bernadette shared on Twitter was precisely at that destination, where they had been 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 Egyptbut I did not go there, “he added.
Besides, The young woman clarified that this has nothing to do with an Israeli issue, but rather 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’s good to be exposed 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 passed this, but I would take precautions” he affirmed and recalled several episodes he 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 we have to work to change it”, he finished.
There are those who claim that the “proposal to exchange camels for women” It is just a joke that lasts over the years. There are those who claim that merchants “they stick like thistles to their potential buyers” and in an attempt for “falling nice and loosening up the client they have a scene prepared” that includes the women who accompany the families. The vendors then they “play” to change them to their husbands or boyfriends for many camels, as a dowry, which is actually given to the man.
The truth is the buying or selling of the bride is an anthropological custom that they did between the family of the groom and the bride with the mere intention of arranging a marriage and improving the assets of a house. It is said that as a consequence of this kind of barter or exchange, the woman begins to be considered as “property” for her husband and his familyso 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.