West Bank Sexual Assaults Silenced

Published: July 21st 2010
in News » World

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A recent rape attempt in the West Bank is being silenced by the Palestinian Authority.


Avi Issacharoff of Haaretzreported last week that Omar Aladdin, an activist living in Umm Salmuna (a village south of Bethlehem) was arrested three months ago and is suspected of the attempted rape of an American peace activist who had been residing in the village as part of her support of local protests against the separation fence.


The incident allegedly took place last April, when Aladdin arrived one evening at a guest house in which many foreign peace activists were staying. Aladdin had told European and American female activists that he feared that the IDF were on his tail, thus convincing the activists to let him stay with them. He subsequently attempted to rape a Muslim-American woman who escaped and accused Aladdin of the attempt.


According to the report inHaaretz, since Aladdin’s arrest, representatives of both the protest movement and the PA have applied pressure on the American peace activist in order to prevent her from going public with the story. Aladdin refused to apologize for the rape attempt and the American activist asked the village’s popular committee to notify authorities of the attempted rape. This resulted in Aladdin being arrested by Bethlehem security forces. He subsequently agreed to apologize for the incident and was released from custody. The US citizen was then convinced to retract her complaint.


Haaretz indicated that this incident is not the first one and that other incidents in which Palestinians molested and sexually assaulted foreign peace activists have taken place. The attempts to silence these incidents, explained the newspaper, are made in order to avoid tainting the images of the popular protests against the separation fence.


Palestinian sources, however, are not surprised by these incidents. The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) is a Palestinian-led movement which is “committed to resisting the Israeli apartheid in Palestine by using nonviolent, direct-action methods and principles” as its website states. The movement, which is known for arranging groups of activists to demonstrate against Israel in the West Bank while showing solidarity with Palestinians, is well aware of the attempted rapes. On their website in the Training section, ISM writes the following under the heading Sexual Harassment and Assault: “Sexual harassment and assault happens all over the world and can happen to anyone. Unfortunately we have heard about a lot of sexual harassment and assault specifically towards women in the West Bank recently. We have included this section to address how women can hopefully avoid sexual assault and harassment, what to do in case it happens, and how we can all help to stop this and support people that it has happened to.”


Related articles: (sexual assault, west bank, palestinian authority, ezra nawi, ISM, rape)
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