Rape and other forms of violence against women are issues that continue to be relevant in both the U.S. and the Middle East. In all of these countries the fight continues for women to feel safe walking home alone at night or in some cases just being seen alone with a man. These are not only women’s rights, these are human rights. Everyone deserves to feel safe in their community, without fear of being attacked based on their gender, sexual orientation, or other affiliations.
In some countries, such as the U.S. (not nationwide) and Israel, there are some laws that are supposedly enforced to protect women against rape and other forms of violence. While in other countries, such as Lebanon women are still fighting for these “guaranteed” rights. I say guaranteed with quotation marks because these rights are supposedly a given in the U.S. however there are numerous examples that prove that that is not always the case, likewise for Israel. In the United States there is this concept of a “rape culture,” meaning we live in a culture that enables or tolerates rape due to stigmas attached to being a victim of rape etc. These include ideas that the rape occurred due to something that the victim did, said, or wore. There are similar stigmas attached to rape victims in other countries.
Another huge issue in these countries is the idea of spousal rape. This is such a controversial topic because in U.S. culture and Middle Eastern culture oftentimes husbands are seen as legally having “conjugal rights” to copulate with their wives. There are fortunately laws against this in both the U.S. and Israel, however, these countries face similar issues in that these types of crimes are not always reported and the legal system doesn’t always come through for these women.
Recently, however, there has been positive news in regards to battling this issue. In Israel reports are showing that the numbers of reported rapes are increasing, showing that women are beginning to feel more comfortable and less ashamed about coming forward.
The issues of rape and violence against women are ones that will not soon disappear from our societies. However, the ongoing dialogue is proof that progress can be made and that people will continue to fight for equality. It is often difficult to pinpoint the reason for such issues in our societies but ultimately it comes down to culture and what has been trivialized in the past. Culture is a mechanism of our societies that is capable of changing but it will however be very slow moving.