Friday, June 24, 2011

Rape: The Ineffective Weapon Against the Arab Spring

Unfortunately, the criminal act of rape has been used as a weapon of war since the beginning of time. What's even more disappointing is that such a savage and barbaric act is still being used today.

The idea behind mass rapes is not only to shame and demean the victim of the rape, but in many conservative societies the intention of mass rapes is to bring shame to the families of the victims as well. Female victims of the rape are seen as 'damaged goods' and are therefore ostracized, almost never asked for their hand in marriage and they and their families must live out the rest of their lives in shame.

In the Arab Spring, the same tactics of systematic mass rapes are being used in Libya, Syria and Bahrain just to name a few. What is different however, is the treatment of the victims by their society.

In Libya, the most well-known rape victim is Eman Al-Obeidi, who burst into a Tripoli hotel and told journalists about her rape. Al-Obeidi broke the barrier of shame by speaking out about her ordeal, and a Libyan man also broke the barrier of shame by marrying Al-Obeidi after news of her rape was broadcast all over the world.

In Syria, refugees fleeing the crackdown on peaceful protesters told horrifying stories of mass rapes of women. Once again, the motive behind the rapes is to shame the protesters and their families into silence. And once again, this did not work. A group of Syrian men promised to marry rape victims in an attempt to end the mass rapes and the shame the rapists intend to inflict. After hearing about the rape of Syrian women, Ibrahim Kayyis, a 32-year-old baker, told the Washington Post, "It made us so mad. Such an injustice. We have decided, we will marry them. We sat and discussed that we want to change this. We don’t want to change just the regime in Syria, but also this kind of stuff. So we will marry them in front of everyone."

In Bahrain, rape is a punishment unleashed on males as well as females. Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, a prominent human rights activist who has just been sentenced to life in prison, spoke out about government officials who tortured him and threatened him with rape. In an excerpt from the article linked above, Al-Khawaja said "the men began to undress, flash and touch him inappropriately. When they tried to take off his pants, Al-Khawaja said he collapsed and started bashing his head until he almost passed out. Eventually, he said the men returned him to his prison cell. He said he had seen a doctor and was scheduled to have an X-ray for possible head injuries."

Horrific. Disgusting. Saaaad :(

Although these stories of rape are stomach churning, there is a silver lining; the wall of shame for both male and female victims of rape is crumbling down. Arab men are marrying rape victims, and Arab men and women are speaking out against sexual assault without shame.

I think this is due to the revolutions. I mean, the revolutionaries can see that rape is being used as a tactic to silence and divide them and they are NOT falling for it.

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