In-Vitro Fertilization, Palestine

Checkpoints, prisons, and smuggled sperm.

It’s fair to say that the manner of how Palestine is often portrayed in the media consists of a repetition of stereotypes. One could state the same for most conflict zones, but luckily we live in a time where photographers are aiming to expand narratives.

Antonio Faccilongo is an Italian photographer who works as a freelance photojournalist in Israel and Palestine. He has responded to the lack of depth in the media’s representation of Palestine by giving us another view of daily life: In-Vitro Fertilization, Palestine.

Women whose husbands are in prison for the rest of their lives face tough choices and social stigmatization. Those who have the funds defy boundaries and try to make a family without the physical presence of their husbands by way of IVF. Faccilongo found these stories and focused on women who are undergoing IVF with the sperm of their imprisoned husbands. During their conjugal visits, the women secretly receive sperm from their partners and then rush to labs to use the sperm to become pregnant.

Faccilongo attests, ”Physical contact is forbidden, except for prisoners’ children, who are allowed ten minutes at the end of each visit to embrace their fathers. This is the secret way that prisoners’ sperm manages to leave the prisons. It is these women’s only hope for a family. It is also one of their opportunities to join the Palestinian resistance. Thus, over the past two years, 30 babies have been born through IVF. The Razan Fertility Clinic in Nablus and the Al-Basma Fertility Clinic in Gaza offer the treatment to prisoners’ wives free of charge, freezing around 70 prisoners’ sperm samples and receiving more from behind prison bars.”

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