Wednesday 15 November 2017

Sperm Smugglers

But the idea gradually took hold and grew into a form of political dissent.

"The prisoners realised it wasn't a matter of social values and traditions," says Tawfiq Abu Naim, another former prisoner. "It's become a war between them and their jailers. The prisoners understand the confrontation and challenge between them and the jailer. So they try to come up with every possible way to break the barrier, get their sperm samples out, to defeat the jailer and reproduce... even when they're in prison."
But by the time the birth of babies conceived with smuggled sperm peaked in 2015, the Israeli authorities clamped down, tightening visitation rights and making it more difficult for prisoners to smuggle their sperm.
To make matters more difficult, Israel has denied identification documents or legal status of any kind to babies born from smuggled sperm. Babies born this way are also denied visitation rights to their imprisoned fathers.
"We applied for baby Asaad to visit his father in prison," explains Asaad Abu Salah, the toddler's grandfather, himself a former prisoner. "We talked with the Red Cross. They said this child is illegitimate and unrecognised by the Israeli occupation and prisons authority... these children are illegitimate and will not have ID cards. If the occupation continues, these children will not be registered in Gaza's civil records and will be banned from travelling. They will remain without any documents to prove their identities. They're unrecognised by the authorities, as if they don't exist."
But despite the hurdles, Asaad remains a source of hope for his mother, May.
"Just as he managed to get his sperm sample smuggled out of prison, he will also be released," she says. "My dream has come true. Hopefully, it will become even better when my husband is released."

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