Allan Wolman has given a catalogue of gender abuse in Iraq in particular and in the Arab world in general. (“Sex abuse ignored”, November 27). 

The abuse of women and girls is not unique to the Arab world. Rather, wherever patriarchy exists — and that is everywhere — toxic masculinity will prevail. In Israel, where Wolman claims “gender violence and child abuse hardly exist”, militarism is added to patriarchy, which as a result seriously worsens the situation for women in Israel and the occupied territories.

High levels of domestic violence are a reality in Israel. In a ground-breaking study entitled “The Military, Militarism, and the Militarisation of Domestic Violence”, Madelaine Adelman shows a strong link between militarism and domestic violence.

Almost a year ago, protesters across Israel took to the streets to criticise what they said was the government’s failure to address violence against women. According to a UN report, about 200,000 women were victims of domestic violence between 2014 and 2015. In 2018, a total of 24 women and girls were killed by a partner, family member or acquaintance.

It is not only in Israeli homes that violence is pervasive. In the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) cases of physical and verbal sexual harassment are rising. The 2017 film Leviah portrays the routine sexual harassment often experienced by women IDF members. In 2016, the Washington Post reported that 28 of the then 32 members of the Knesset said that they had been sexually harassed or assaulted.

Far worse is the horror Palestinian women suffer at the hands of Israeli soldiers. They are continually humiliated and insulted at checkpoints and in their homes. In prisons, sexual harassment and sexual violence have been long-standing tactics of Israeli soldiers against Palestinians.

As for Wolman’s lie that “child abuse hardly exists”, if he is prepared to face the sad truth he would be able to acknowledge that Palestinian children suffer verbal and physical abuse, violence, psychological trauma and torture at the hands of the IDF daily. According to a UN report, Israel killed 56 and injured almost 2,700 Palestinian children in 2018.

Justice for women — both Jewish and Palestinian — can be achieved in historical Palestine by a rejection of patriarchy and racism, and by the dismantling of the Zionist colonial project.

Gunvant Govindjee