May 29, 2005

Are You Beating Your Wife?

It is not your fault. At least, not if you are a Palestinian. Why then, its the fault (get ready, you'll never believe this) of ISRAEL! (via an excellent post by Mark of Auterific)

Yes, feminist tried hard to make spousal abuse an excuseless crime; yes, work may stress a guy out, he still can't punch his wife because she burned the beans. Yes, maybe she did embarass him. Knocking out her tooth wasn't the proper response.

However, when it comes to Israel-- well we take the blame for any crime.
The WCLAC-Women's Center for Legal Aid and Counseling (one office located in Jerusalem----how's that for irony?) has recently issues a press statement to wit:

Press Release Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counselling The Occupation, patriarchy, and violence against women 12 May 2005

Within a period of a month, five women, Shadia Jidawi from Tulkarem, Yusra Al ‘Azamy from Gaza, Faten Habash from Ramallah, Rudaina Shukirat (pregnant 8 months), and her sister, Amany Shukirat from Jabal Mukaber, were killed for challenging patriarchal norms.

Challenges to patriarchal norms, within the context of conflict and militarization, are often answered with threats of violence and in worst cases, murder. Women are invariably most vulnerable. In the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), the increase of violent measures against the Palestinians by the Israeli Occupying Forces has not been matched by any increased accountability to international human rights and humanitarian law. This lack of accountability and justice seeps into the consciousness of Palestinian society where some Palestinian men transfer this entitlement to commit violence to their own families in order to reassert their authority and power. These men--no longer able to find or even reach employment because of the restrictions of movement, no longer able to even feed their own families--are forced to swallow their dignity and accept help from foreign development agencies and humanitarian aid agencies. Their use of violence becomes a coping mechanism that addresses their own inabilities to perform their traditional roles as providers for their families, that addresses their loss of dignity and “manhood,” and finally, their loss of control and authority over their women.

Within this context of the systematic breakdown of social institutions and because law is not enforced, women become the tools of the patriarchal elite to reclaim their power. Traditional roles and responsibilities are further entrenched. Girls are pulled out of schools and forced into early marriage. Development of institutions, systems, and legislation that could protect women comes to a standstill. The empowerment of women becomes a threat and a liability and women’s rights organizations are vilified and seen as trivial.

It is between the forces of patriarchy and militarism that the lives of these five women and all Palestinian women are positioned and it is only through addressing and understanding these forces that we, as women’s organizations, and civil society, can hope to change the lives and futures of Palestinian women and Palestinian society as a whole.

It really isn't the fault o the guy who hit his wife, but Israel. It isn't like men in other Arab societies abuse their wives. Heaven forbid we should think like that! It isn't the Islamic/Arab culture (opposed to the religion, which is different).

It is the fault of Israel (or Zionist,or Jews. We are sort of interchangable).

Spousal abuse cuts through all religions, all ethnic groups, all socieites, and abusers will do what they have always done. Find someone, anyone, but themselves to blame. Work, their spouses poor cooking, infidelity, the bills, the guy down the street, and now, Israel. The blame game alllows the abuser off the hook, makes the abuser the victim. If the WCLAC really wants to stop abuse of women in their community they will stop pointing fingers at anyone but the one who throws the punch.

Posted by Rachel Ann at May 29, 2005 09:34 PM

Can I get an "AMEN!"?????

Posted by: Mark at May 29, 2005 10:26 PM

Wow! That's appalling, on so many levels. I still can't understand why Palestinian/Arab women don't stand up and demand peace and freedom. They invariably end up amongst the loudest voices calling for more resistance and violence. I shudder to think how much time and effort it is going to take to change these cultural pathologies to a point where peace can work, (and women can live safely).

Posted by: AbbaGav at May 29, 2005 10:28 PM
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