Women of Manbij catch fish at the banks of Euphrates to earn a living.
Women living in rural areas of Manbij depend on fishery, agriculture and (animal) husbandry as a source of income. Aisha Al-Youssef, mother of four, lives in the Shajara village of Manbij, northeastern Syria. She catches fish at the banks of the Euphrates River to earn a living.
40-year-old Aisha Al-Youssef has earned her living from fishing since she was 11. Noting that she was the first girl catching fish in her village, she says, “I was not subjected to any bullying or slander by our society. On the contrary, the villagers described me as a brave girl. I was one of the first girls who caught fish in the village. I also knit and sell fish nets.”
Fishery is her only source of income
Aisha Al-Youssef kept catching fish after she got married. “I restarted fishing less than ten days after our marriage. Fishery is my only source of income. My husband also catches fish. After getting married, we began to catch fish together to make a living for our family. We raised our children by fishery and now our children help us to catch fish,” she told us.
Telling how they catch fish, Aisha Al-Youssef said, “At noon, we leave the nets in the water and pull the nets through the water before sunrise in order to sell them as fresh. In our village there are 4-5 women who earn a living from fishing. I suffer from eczema on my hands because I often catch fish. Doctors tell me not to catch fish any more but I keep catching fish because it is my only source of income.”
She overcame her fear of being on the boat
45-year-old Zarifa Al-Jassem lives in the village of Al-Halul, southeast of Manbij. She is one of the people who earn a living by catching fish on the banks of the Euphrates River. Zarifa Al-Jasem and her husband have to walk for a while to catch fish at the banks of the river. “I have been catching fish for 15 years in order to meet my needs. When I first started catching fish, I was afraid of being on the boat. But, I overcame my fear.”
Zarifa Al-Jasem is the only woman earning a living from fishing in the village. “If you want to catch fish, you should be two people; while one is rowing and the other leaves the nets in the water and then pulls them through the water. For this reason, I catch fish with my brother, father and sometimes with my husband. We have to catch fish because fishing is our only source of income. Sometimes we catch five fish in a day, but sometimes we return home empty-handed.”