April 13, 2021

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Is it even possible to be a pro-Palestinian feminist?


This article in The Nation is being reported all over:

Her arguments are really nutty, but Sarsour knows how to get pubicity.

So let’s use her own methodology to ask whether it is possible for Linda Sarsour, or anyone else, to be a feminist while supporting Palestinian Arabs.

According to the UN,  there are no specific laws or provisions in the Palestinian Authority or under Hamas rule that protect women against domestic violence and sexual violence.

If women are not able to provide/show evidence of “force”, “threats” and/or “deception” to support rape claims, they risk being criminalized for “adultery.”

The Palestinian Authority has adopted the Jordanian 1960 “rape marriage” law  that says that a rapist will not be prosecuted if he marries his victim. These laws often result in rape victims being coerced by family or courts to marry their rapists.

While rape is illegal, the woman is often the one who must defend herself since the rape laws only apply “provided that such a woman is not a prostitute and is not known for her immoral character.”

Murderers who claim to have murdered women in order to ‘maintain family honor’ can be exempted from judicial sanction.

Marital rape is not against the law.

This study showed that Palestinian women only went public about being abused sexually only where the abuse was extremely traumatic, publicly apparent, and the victim absolved of blame. 10% of the women who went public were murdered. Usually the family would respond with measures like hymen reconstruction, marriage to the rapist, and abortion to “nullify” sexual abuse.

Women are not allowed to marry without permission from their guardian, Men may marry up to four wives.

A Palestinian Arab man can divorce his wife for any reason, but Palestinian women can request divorce only under certain circumstances. When a divorce is initiated by the woman it means that she must give up any financial rights and must return her dowry.

Sexual abuse of women and children are rampant but swept under the rug.  37% of married Palestinian women were exposed to some form of violence by their husbands in the previous year alone, nearly 12% exposed to sexual violence in the previous year. 65% of those who were exposed to violence stayed quiet about it because of cultural mores.

20% of Palestinian women are married before they are 18, almost always to older men, which is a human rights violation. Because of child marriages, 10% of all Palestinian women between 15-19 give birth in any year.

The highest rates of violence against women are found where the families tend to be more religious, in Gaza and Hebron.

The Palestinian Basic Law, by saying that ‘the principles of Islamic Shari’a shall be a principal source of legislation’, can be interpreted in a manner which undermines the rights of women according to a UN study.

I’m not even going into Shari’a law here, which is far worse than Palestinian law for women. (Linda Sarsour has publicly defended Shari’a law, which calls into question her own qualifications to be called a feminist.)

Liberal “Pro-Palestinian” activists rarely if ever mention any of the issues listed here. The media is also complicit in its silence on these topics. Yet Palestinians know all about them, and it is likely that Sarsour is quite aware of them and chooses to remain silent, because that would blunt her anti-Israel message.

Her hate for Israel is more important to her than the rights of Palestinian women.

Sarsour says “You either stand up for the rights of all women, including Palestinians, or none. There’s just no way around it.” Which means that Sarsour is not a feminist by her own definition because she does not stand up for the rights of Palestinian women who are suffering so badly under a patriarchal, Islamic-based system of laws and customs. In fact, her anti-Israel stance is her way to divert attention from the very real discrimination and abuse that Palestinian women suffer.

Sarsour, with her silence,  is actually enabling the daily abuse of Palestinian women from the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and the misogynist Palestinian society that she idealizes for the cameras.

Linda Sarsour, and all so-called “feminists” who use their platform as a means to bash Israel, are in fact anti-feminist and tacitly support discrimination against and abuse of Palestinian women that happen every day.

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