LETTER: The ‘right’ to rape
No legal protection for Palestinians women at home, on the street and at the workplace
Further to Alan Wolman’s letter (“Sex abuse ignored”, November 28), the UN recently reported that “a third of all women and girls experience physical or sexual violence”.
UN secretary-general Antonió Guterres said that violence against women often went unreported, and “sexual violence against women and girls was rooted in centuries of male domination”.
Palestinian women in particular suffer from inequality and violence. Khadija Zahran, director of the Independent Commission for Human Rights, said physical and sexual violence were seen as normal behaviour in Palestinian society, and even the women assumed the man had this “right”.
Birzeit University social sciences lecturer Bader Al-A'araj touched on another UN observation. He said marital rape was not a concept in Palestinian social consciousness because “she is his wife”, implying he has a right to rape her.
Al-A’araj mentioned other important reasons for the widespread violence against women.
One is “the social culture and the domination of a male-patriarchal culture that justifies this type of violence”. Second is the absence of proper laws to protect women “at home, on the street, or at the workplace”. Third, there is an almost global “tolerance” of violence against women in the home, because it is committed by someone “close” and many victims suffer from the misconception that if they “forgive,” the violence will stop. Fourth, Palestinian Authority religious leaders have ruled that sex on demand is a Muslim husband’s right and a wife's “obligation”.
Is it any wonder that Israel resists giving up control of the country to the Palestinians?