“It is up to her”: Rape and the Re-victimization of Palestinian Women in Multiple Legal Systems

Mada’s Gender Studies Program director Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian authored an article entitled “It is up to her”: Rape and the Re-victimization of Palestinian Women in Multiple Legal Systems. The article was published in Journal of the center for the critical analysis of social difference at Columbia University in December 2011.

Excerpt:

"Rape and sexual abuse are paradigmatic forms of the violation of consent in women’s lives and in modern liberal law. The pursuit of justice in the wake of such violations of consent is filled with obstacles. Even in states with so-called “Western” or “modern” legal systems, victims of rape and sexual abuse face significant barriers when they seek assistance in redressing grievances. They are often re-victimized in the process. Yet these legal systems are commonly assumed to be capable of and effective in punishing rapists. Legal action against offenders is often framed as a decision on the part of the victim of whether to pursue a case or not. This deeply embedded assumption elides the significant deficiencies – such as low conviction rates and the prevalence of powerful rape myths and victim-blaming – that prevent the conviction and punishment of offenders and in turn further traumatize the victim as she navigates the legal system. Studies have shown that the insufficiencies of modern legal systems encourage victims not to report the crimes committed against them and instead to seek redress via unofficial channels, which may or may not provide a satisfactory resolution. Thus, legal action and resolution in the wake of rape and sexual abuse are not really “up to her.” It is never a clear-cut decision for the victim to pursue legal action or not; the assumption that it is “up to her” actually complicates the position of the victim and damages her."

To view the article, click here.