Not By Force: on­line cam­paign com­bat­ing mar­i­tal rape


The Daily News Egypt - - Art & Culture - By Nada Deyaa’

When speak­ing of vi­o­lence against women in Egypt, most peo­ple would typ­i­cally think of phys­i­cal and phys­i­o­log­i­cal abuse which women usu­ally are at the re­ceiv­ing end from fam­ily mem­bers or spouses. How­ever, very few would dis­cern that be­ing raped by hus­bands or be­ing forced into sex­ual ac­tiv­ity against the woman’s will is also in­cluded in vi­o­lence against women.

With the aim to raise peo­ple aware­ness re­gard­ing mar­i­tal rape, among the pro­gramme of the world’s cel­e­bra­tion of the in­ter­na­tional day of com­bat­ing vi­o­lence against women and the be­gin­ning the 16 days of ac­tivism, the Cen­tre for Egyp­tian Women Le­gal As­sis­tance (CEWLA), launched, the Not By Force on­line cam­paign to counter mar­i­tal rape.

CEWLA is an NGO seek­ing to em­power women and speak about their rights, es­pe­cially the ones that are not com­monly spo­ken of in so­ci­ety, and are con­sid­ered as a women’s duty, such as be­ing forced to have sex­ual in­ter­course with her hus­band against her will.

In co­op­er­a­tion with the UN Gen­eral As­sem­bly’s In­ter­na­tional Day for the Elim­i­na­tion ofVi­o­lence Again­stWomen,the cam­paign aims to shed light on the dif­fer­ent forms of mar­i­tal rape, by dis­clos­ing sto­ries of real women who de­cided to speak up about their own ex­pe­ri­ences de­spite so­ci­ety’s re­stric­tions.

In a state­ment pub­lished by CEWLA, the or­gan­i­sa­tion stated that such acts of vi­o­lence are usu­ally not spo­ken of much like the oth­ers as the so­ci­ety is not aware of the fact that it is as equal as other types of vi­o­lence are.

Shed­ding light on women’s re­al­ity in the Egyp­tian com­mu­nity, we find that there are sev­eral forms of vi­o­lence that women are sub­jected to within or out­side of the fam­ily.These nu­mer­ous forms of vi­o­lence are en­cour­aged by neg­a­tive cul­tural her­itage,cus­toms,and tra­di­tions, in ad­di­tion to the de­te­ri­o­rat­ing eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion. While some of these have started to en­ter the pub­lic sphere of dis­cus­sion, many still re­main taboo. Sadly, vi­o­lence com­mit­ted by hus­bands within the sanc­tity of the home, is still a taboo sub­ject, shed away from by the pub­lic, even when it reaches the level of rape,the state­ment reads.

Among the pub­lished story, was one be­long­ing to a woman who wrote down her story with her hus­band’s abuse.

“Ever since we got mar­ried, sex was con­sid­ered an ex­tremely hard ex­pe­ri­ence for me. He showed me no mercy,” the lady was quoted say­ing at one of CEWLA’s Face­book posts.

She con­tin­ued he story say­ing that she was forced to sex by her hus­band to the ex­tent of hav­ing night­mares.“If I would wake up in the mid­dle of the night with his hands across my body, I would beg him not to get near me,” she was quoted say­ing.

“I would work for the whole day and re­turn home back at night to do all the house­hold work, and the minute I lay in bed, he did not care how tired I was, if he is mood for sex­ual in­ter­course then we have to do it. Oth­er­wise, a se­ries of other types phys­i­cal abuse would start,” she added.

The lady de­scribed that she was afraid and could not speak to her fam­ily of what was hap­pen­ing to her, which led into other sorts of sick­nesses that were later di­ag­nosed as to be psy­cho­log­i­cally driven.

The cam­paign, started on 25 Novem­ber, speaks of all sort of vi­o­lence prac­ticed by hus­bands, high­light­ing rape the most.

The 16-day event also in­cludes psy­cho­log­i­cal and so­cial anal­y­sis of the results and ef­fects of this form of vi­o­lence.The cam­paign fur­ther dis­cusses the cul­tural as­pect of the is­sue, and why we need to raise sex­ual aware­ness and ed­u­ca­tion for cou­ples-to-be, as well as ar­gu­ments on mar­i­tal sex based on re­li­gious texts.

It all added up to the in­ter­na­tional con­ven­tions and pro­tec­tion mech­a­nisms, and the le­gal view on pro­tect­ing women.

Through­out their stud­ies on cases of women un­der­go­ing vi­o­lence from spouses,CEWLA found that not so many speak of this as a sort of vi­o­lence.

The state­ment added that ac­cord­ing to the preva­lent pa­tri­ar­chal mind­set that many peo­ple be­lieve in, mar­i­tal sex is con­sid­ered a pri­vate is­sue and a taboo that women are pro­hib­ited from speak­ing about. They are also not sup­posed to com­plain about the pain they en­dure even if their hus­bands co­erce them into sex with­out their con­sent, some­times even dur­ing sick­ness or weak­ness. Many of the women who talked to the NGO used the ex­pres­sion “I feel he is rap­ing me” to de­scribe the level of suf­fer­ing and psy­cho­log­i­cal pain re­sult­ing from this op­pres­sive re­la­tion­ship;hence,the ex­pres­sion “Mar­i­tal Rape”.

In 2014, the pop­u­la­tion sur­vey, un­der the min­istry of health,doc­u­mented that 267 mar­ried women in the study sam­ple of 6,693 women were sub­jected to sex­ual vi­o­lence from their hus­bands. It also found that 30% who had sep­a­rated from their hus­bands had pre­vi­ously been sub­jected to vi­o­lence at least once.This is sim­i­lar to what was re­ported by theWorld Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion in 2013.

This re­port was con­ducted in sev­eral coun­tries in­clud­ing Egypt, and doc­u­mented 35% of women who are sub­jected to phys­i­cal or sex­ual vi­o­lence from their hus­bands.


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