Mutual Struggles Amid the Violence: Israeli and Palestinian Women

Rudolf D’Silva

The decades of violence ensuing in the Israeli/Palestinian region has caused many to overlook how such violence has hindered educational opportunities for women in the region. Sexual violence against women is a systemic issue faced by many Palestinian women, according to Julie Bindel, a reporter for the International Business Times (Bindel, 2016). Women are often married at young ages, and marital rape is not recognized within the region (B 2016). Serious women’s issues, such as the disregard of marital rape, are often over shadowed by the continual violence plaguing the region. For example, in late September there was yet another surge of violence after a Palestinian man stabbed an Israeli soldier, leading to a series of conflicts over the next few days, according to CNN reports (Visser, 2016). It is continual violence such as this, which makes it difficult for Israeli and Palestinian officials to prioritize women’s rights.

Israeli women claim that they suffer the same patriarchal injustices Palestinian women experience. However, no news reports explicitly state that sexual violence is experienced to the same degree amongst Israeli women as they are amongst Palestinian women (B 2016). Regardless of ethnicity, sexual violence has serious psychological impacts on its victims. Given many Palestinian women are married at young ages, impacts their ability to pursue higher forms of education. This collectively limits Palestinian women’s ability to gain economic mobility, and other forms of liberation. Secondly, given marital rape is not recognized as a crime within the region, it undoubtedly increases the likelihood of nonconsensual sexual encounters amongst married couples. For married Palestinian women who may be pursuing higher forms of education, and are victims of marital rape, the psychological stress resulting from that rape, is likely to make it difficult for these women to focus on their education. Eventually, this influences the quality of education these women receive.

Another obstacle, limiting access and quality of education for both Israeli and Palestinian women in the region is the fear many male family members have of sending the women of their family to different villages to study (B 2016). Due to the ensuing violence, many men fear for the safety of their female relatives. This fear emerges from the idea that women are less capable of taking care of themselves in hostile environments. The defensive attitude male family members have, though well intended, limits women’s access to various forms of education, and economic opportunities.

Ultimately, although the continued violence raging amongst Israeli and Palestinians is tragic, it has blinded many in the region of the struggles the women in their communities must regularly endure.

 

References

Bindel, J. (2016, October 27). How Arab and Jewish Feminists Unite to Fight Sexual Violence and Patriarchy in Israel. International Business Times. Retrieved October 31, 2016, from http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/how-arab-jewish-feminists-unite-fight-sexual-violence-patriarchy-israel-1588589

HOPE [Photograph]. (2014, November 1). Fabulously Made. http://garsijanovski.blogspot.com/2014_11_01_archive.html

Visser, S., Carey, A., & Salman, A. (2016, September 17). West Bank, Jerusalem violence flares after recent calm. CNN. Retrieved October 31, 2016, from http://www.cnn.com/2016/09/16/middleeast/west-bank-violence/

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