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25 March, 2005

Collective concern

A interesting and alarming phenomenon in the wider region is the culture of gang rape. A significant proportion of rapes reported in the local media are carried out by two or more attackers.

This is a muslim rather than an Arab phenomenon because it takes place in non-Arab countries such as Pakistan, usually in the guise of tribalism and "honour"-killing, and Indonesia, often against ethnic Chinese women. Gang-rape is also committed outside the region by expatriates, for example in Australia or Norway.

The issue is not that muslim males are more likely to rape than non-muslim or western males. The point is that when rape does occur, it is often perpetrated by a group, and very often against a victim with (perceived) lower-status ethnicity.

The most recent case in the UAE (and it should be noted that unlike other countries such as Jordan or Pakistan, the authorities usually deal extremely severely with rapists here even if they are UAE nationals) is of four young Emirati men gang-raping an Indian woman. Last month a Bangladeshi girl was raped by two men. Archive searching finds a young woman raped and murdered by three Indian men, Filipina maids gang-raped in the UAE and Kuwait, a Burmese woman raped by three men, a Frenchwoman raped by three men and a maid in Bahrain raped by two men.

Even the extremely gentle and devout Hamid, during his troubles with a Jordanian golddigger, once complained to her:

"I treat you very well with all respect. I could bring my friends round and we could make you have sex with us but I don't because I love you and want to marry you."

There was no issue of Hamid ever forcing himself upon her alone, it could only be done with male back-up as a sort of collaborative ritual.

When you ask women in the West what their image of a rapist is, the answer will usually be a shabby-looking man lurking in an alleyway at night. In fact, the vast majority of rapists are known to their victims: they may be boyfriends, current or former husbands, dates, pick-ups in a bar or club. But it still tends to be a single offender, rather than several.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

It would be interesting to see if there is a greater tendency for muslims to rape versus non muslims. Of course, nobody will make it easy to get statistics on this, but muslim cultures traditionally view women as chattel, so this may explain part of thier disturbing habits.

I read somewhere that there is no word for rape in the Arabic language. That book was written in the 1970s, so I'm not sure if that is still the case, but it also sheds some light on the status (or lack thereof) of local women. Logically, a foreign woman would be seen as lower than a native, since she's probably the "property" of noone important.

28 May, 2005 20:24  
Blogger secretdubai said...

Well, "rape" in English literally means seizing, it only took on its current (main) meaning in later on. Unfortunately not being an Arabist I don't know what word they use for rape, but it's an offence punishable by death/imprisonment in most countries, so there must be a term or phrase for it.

I don't think you could specifically say Group X is more likely to offend a woman than Group Y - but if you were able to define rape into different categories of offence (marital rape, gang rape, date rape, "lone stranger"-style rape) then you probably would start to see patterns emerge between cultures and social sectors.

An uneasy thing to bear in mind is that marital rape was only criminalised in the UK in 1991.

The abuse - physical and sexual (by men and women) of servants is an issue in the Gulf. But it was also an issue in European countries in the days of county squires and their serfs. Who can forget droit de seigneur - which even if it never officially existed on the statute books, would certainly have done in practice.

Although there has been somewhat of a stall in progress in the past centuries, compared to the "West", Islam traditionally made women far less of chattels than Christianity or Hinduism did. The problem is the pre-Islamic tribal cultures which were and are fiercely patriarchal. In the UK, a wife's property became her husband's on marriage until the late 1800s, and in France a similar situation was not definitely reformed until 1965. Whereas the wife's property has never transferred to the husband on marriage under Islamic law.

So it is all the more tragic that the progressiveness of Islam has been stalled in certain countries, like Saudi, in recent times. And in countries like Afghanistan under the Taleban, perverted to harm and oppress the very women it was designed to protect.

29 May, 2005 22:17  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it is just a matter of publicity of anything. Gang rapes are all over the world and equal not just in the countries mentioned about. I remember i saw a movie COBRA (Sylvester Stallone) and in that movie there were figures given at the start of movie of rape, murder etc and it was something like 12 per 4 sec etc type of figures. It is only the matter of fact that if you compare any muslim state with non muslim still the GANG RAPE or RAPE rates are high in NON MUSLIM countries becuase there are no restrictions in those countries and woman move in clothes which attract men alot (example on beaches they were thongs) sorry to say but what is hideen. When you see more and more you want to do more which ultimately make you do such things. I do not think you will find any virgin after the age if 12 in USA or EU but for sure you will find many in Muslim countries. I just heard a news few days back that INDIAN is going to be one of the country with highest number of person infected with HIV.......can any one tell me what is cause HIV to spread it is sex only and can any one tell me how many GANG RAPES are there. I open all indian news channel and its all sex, rape news all the time. Do not agree with me just open Zee News or any other and watch for an hour and you will find such news.

23 November, 2006 22:45  

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