December 01, 2007
Spank me, I've been a bad girl
Marjorie, an expatriate blogger in Qatar who often tackles social and religious issues, brought my attention to that country's first survey of violence against women. Not only had nearly two-thirds of women polled been beaten, over two in five believed they deserved it.
Allow me to quote Marjorie at length:
As I have often remarked, I came here prepared (by cultural bias) to be horrified by the treatment of women in the Arab world, but quickly learned that this is not where the story is. The flagrant human rights abuses that take place here in Qatar are predominantly against immigrant laborers, not against Arab women.
This week, however, a researcher at Qatar University released the first ever study of violence against women in Qatar, entitled "Violence against Women in the Qatari Society." In her study, Dr. Kulthum Al Ghanem surveyed 2,778 female students at Qatar University (aged 17-25, 84% Qatari).
- 63% of those surveyed had been beaten, usually by male relatives (husband, brother, father).
- 4% had been sexually harassed and 2% had encountered "'strong violence' like rape".
- 45% of victims had been subjected to violence since childhood, 34% since adolescence.
- 47% said they'd suffered ill effects after their abuse, such as depression. 2% said they'd attempted suicide.
The finding rocking the news media, though, is that 42% allegedly said that they deserved to be beaten. And, in a related study of 703 Arab female QU students, 37% said that men should "discipline" women and 63% said more generally that women needed "someone" to "discipline" them.
Some of the statistics reported in these three media sources were mutually contradictory (e.g. the percentage of women who had been beaten was reported variously as 63%, 65% and 23%), and subjective terms such as "beaten" were not defined, so do with this information what you will.
I still suspect that violence against maids is more pervasive and more extreme, notwithstanding a recent claim that it is "not a widespread phenomenon" and (even more perplexingly) that "invariably all cases of violence it is the lady of the house who is responsible for violent behaviour against a female domestic." The gentleman putting forward these views concluded, in keeping with Al Ghanem's findings, that the solution to this problem was for the men of the household to discipline their wives.
Oh, and I apologize for the title of this post. I'm blaming Matthew.
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The invocation of my name does not imply association with, or endorsement of, the social problems or troubles described above.
The above entry, however, does raise a perennial important ("oppressed people suck")-type issue I think to be the case: that "patriarchy" cannot succeed via males alone. In fact, of all oppressive systems it is probably the one with the most collaborators/endorsers/enablers from the victim class.
Posted by: matthew hogan at December 1, 2007 12:33 PM
I got to know a woman from the Middle East via the Internet a while ago, and I was shocked at the extent to which she had internalised this gendered vision of herself - being a woman, she believed unable to make decisions, lead or indeed define her own life. The Net was evidently her escape.
I don't advocate the Western model of gender relations - domestic violence is high in the UK, and women's equality often means they have to combine work with traditional woman's duties. But the passivity of this woman - for want of a better word - left me with a deep feeling of sadness.
Surely it's the male 50% of the world's population who deserve a collective smack in the mouth.
Posted by: Julaybib at December 1, 2007 02:37 PM
hm I wonder what the figure would be for men.
Posted by: Ali K at December 1, 2007 03:43 PM
DW & MH,
It reminds me of AHA's railing against the patriarchy, whereas it was her grandmother who'd decided - against the explicit will of her father - have her FGM'ed ...
Posted by: MSK at December 1, 2007 03:43 PM
Lebanese cleric to battered women: hit 'em back
Posted by: Ali K at December 5, 2007 07:07 PM