The Arab Feminist Movement in Support of Victims of Sexual Abuse
Assiwar is an Arab feminist movement that struggles against oppression in all its forms and shapes: Patriarchal, economical, national and ethnical. The libration of society, especially emancipating the weak and distressed sectors, necessitates combating all forms of exploitation. Assiwar believes that "feminism" is a revolutionary political-social movement that strives to change the relations of authority, control and dominance in society. Gender analysis attempts to challenge the various forms of exploitation, and tries to understand the complex interplay of these forms throughout society.
On the patriarchal level, we see that violence against women and children, particularly sexual assaults, reflects the masculine dominance in society. Sexual assaults and other forms of violence are social phenomenon where women and children are victimized for being weak. However, these assaults reinforce a sense of power and authority in the assaulter, rather than satisfy his sexual desire. Any woman can fall victim to sexual abuse, as long as the responsibility for preventing the abuse is in the hands of the assaulter and our patriarchal society which he grows in it.
Sexual assaults are a social crisis that Assiwar specializes in dealing with. We do not see the victim as a sick person who needs treatment or modification of behavior; rather, she is someone who needs support and sympathy to overcome her crisis.
Confidentiality is extremely crucial to victims of sexual assaults due to a lack of support society. Therefore, all information about the victim remains private and is not passed on to anyone else without the victim’s consent.
On the national level, Assiwar sees that Palestinian women have a unique reality; hence, our struggle should begin from within our national and cultural context. Yet, our national identity requires a critical observation and examination of the essential notion of the ignorance historical realism of our nationality, which conceals authority relation, it disregards that the national group culture is the result of the historical power relations which produced it.
Assiwar is a group of women who work together on common issues because we encounter similar obstacles as Palestinian women. We realize that our suffering results from many factors; aside from being women and that we come from different social classes and backgrounds.
Assiwar is a registered Non Governmental Organization (NGO) that provides services to the Arab-Palestinian population nationwide. Its financial support comes from international foundations that share our goals.
Assiwar is run by a group of Arab-Palestinian women volunteers, who undergo a comprehensive training course in the organization. The course provide knowledge, skills and tools to analyze various social phenomena from gender perspective, In addition, the volunteers are trained on how to provide help and support to victims of sexual abuse. Members participate in the various activities organized by Assiwar to raise public awareness about the issue of sexual abuse.
Activities and projects of the Organization
The Hot Line
Assiwar operates a 24- hour hot line to receive phone calls from victims of sexual assaults, and provide them with the proper guidance and support by enabling them to talk about their crisis.
The Schools Project fosters discussion with high school students about gender relations, especially the issue of sexual abuse. Discussions are conducted in order to reach a better understanding of the definition of sexual assault, its causes, and effects on the Arab-Palestinian society, and to explore how to combat this phenomenon.
- "Tawasol" Interconnection Project
The Interconnection Project expresses our belief in the importance of a joint effort among all Palestinian women and Arab women, in spite of the separation that befell the Palestinian people in 1948, which resulted in creating different circumstances, social realities, and outcome for Arab-Palestinian living inside Israel, and those living in Gaza and West Bank and the Diaspora.
The Professionals Project
The Professionals Project raises awareness of sexual abuse among professionals such as social workers, nurses, teachers, and police men and youth counselors. The project is run by workshops and lectures that address the issue of sexual abuse and how to deal with victims of sexual assaults. In addition, they raise issues related to gender relations and stereotypes in society about the capacities of men and women.
The Public Awareness-Raising Project
This project aims at raising public awareness about the issue of gender relations and the status of women in Arab-Palestinian society.
"Al-Badeel"- The Alternative Project to Fight Crimes Committed in the Name of family Honor
The Alternative Project aims at ending crimes committed against women in the name of family honor, and fights the silence and taboo surrounding these crimes. It further aims to change the attitudes about the issue of family honor and establish a notion of the woman as a human being rather than as family property.
Media and Public Relations Unit
The Media and Public Relations Unit publicizes Assiwar’s positions and activities. This unit publishes a newsletter and a website that addresses events and social phenomena from a feminist perspective, raises general women-related issues, and addresses sexual abuse and sexual assaults as reflection of women’s status in society. The unit further coordinates cooperative work with various organizations to act on issues concerning women and society.
Contact us: P.O.BOX: 44803, HAIFA
TEL: 972 (0)4 8514038 FAX: 972 (0)4 8536378