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When Gender Cries Out: Stop Forced Marriage!

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No doubt, that one of the building blocks of a civilized society is respecting and appreciating a woman as a human being. One who has a special and independent entity, and who occupies an advanced status, which has to carry out duties as well as obtaining rights. In these civilized societies, a woman can take part effectively in society, contributing to different economic, political, and cultural activities.

Most Arab societies are still suffering from this arrogant and diminishing perspective of a woman. Moreover, they suffer from these conflicting concepts which deal with a female and a male as polar, consequently, living the controversy of whether to separate them in schools, universities, and even public places or not. This diminishing perspective sees the woman as a mere body made for pleasure, with no emotions, and sometimes a slave or a servant who must listen and obey commands without discussion. More even worse, the common belief that she is intellectually and spiritually incomplete, unaccountable! Mass communication and clergymen have managed, throughout history, to mould women into the “second class” citizen. According to them, women are only capable of mingling into the public life under special restrictions. She is even being beaten and rebuked when committing mistakes. Her view point is disregarded; she is always the weaker party. They managed to prevail a deformed image of women throughout history, based on religious misconceptions, resulting in a sever suffering of women because of these dominating and humiliating convictions. Thus women have ended up surrendering to the status quo. She gave up all what represents her and her emotions. The Arab woman, in most rural societies, is the prisoner of her physical entity, living the role of the victim who is forced to surrender to her murderer.

Here we should refer to one of many common phenomena in the Palestinian rural communities, which I call Marital Rape! It is when a girl is forced to marry her cousin or one of her relatives disregarding her desire or her emotions: whether she accepts him as a husband or not. This phenomenon is ignoring her as a primary party in a marriage contract, and deals with her as mere material or a product which is being sold. This type of marriage pushes her to play a pure mechanical role, which drains her, destroys her, and assassinates her essence as a female.

The dangerous consequences of this type of marriage lie in its being a sexual, physical, and psychological persecution. It is a silent rape in the name of customs and traditions. These customs and traditions are far more powerful than laws and religion in these villages. What makes things worse is that the consequences of this marriage will create an atmosphere of disconformity and disharmony between the married couple and it will generate emotions of hatred, fear and revenge inside the woman if she goes on in this marriage. This will lead inevitably to social violence, which will absolutely end with divorce!

We should admit that our Arab societies are masculine ones, characterized by enslaving and suppressing women freedom. In addition, our misunderstanding of the values, and therefore failing to put them in action correctly, is among the reasons behind the distortion in our consciousness. Moreover, the common misunderstanding of religion, and separating it from human values and ethics. This was the foundation of a retarded social mentality, and a fundamental religious mentality. They misapply the concept of: “We found our fathers on the course, and surely we are guided by their footsteps”!

This mentality rejects and resists change, and it is definitely incapable of coping with the fast changes in our “small village” world. There is a severe misconception of the meaning of love. The common concept of love is a limited, diminishing and sensual one. Therefore this concept will make marriage the ultimate enemy of love.

My message to all parents is: Stop forcing your daughters to do what they reject. It is impossible to reshape the emotions of people according to the principle of power. I call the NGOs to carry out their responsibilities and stop these assaults against women rights. By insisting on forcing girls to those miserable marriages, we are creating a sort of an authorized rape, which can never bread love or harmony between the married couple!


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