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Hot Post in the Feminist Hawks’ Nest: “Normal” Domestic Violence in Morocco is a Crime in the United States

Posted on August 1 2010 1:00 pm
Phyllis Chesler is an Emerita Professor of Psychology and Women's Studies at City University of New York. For extended biography visit The Phyllis Chesler Organization.

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Editors Note: On Sundays we’re going to start a new feature where we republish some of the most popular and important posts of the week for those who might have missed them. This post by Phyllis Chesler was originally published on July 27, 2010.

So sayeth the Superior Court of New Jersey Appellate Division.

On July 31, 2008, a couple was married by arrangement in Morocco when the bride was 17 years old. They moved to Bayonne, New Jersey, where the new husband found work as an accountant. The husband’s mother came to live with them.

On November 1st of that year, “acts of domestic abuse” commenced. The young girl finally called the police who, on November 22, 2008 (three weeks later) were still able to photograph numerous, visible bruises all over her body, including on her breasts. Her first punishment session lasted for one hour, during which time she cried all the time. This did not stop her husband. He said that he was doing this “to correct her.” The second time, he attacked both her breasts and genitalia, including pulling her pubic hair. Her vagina was very red and swollen—and that is when he administered his ultimate “pedagogical” punishment: He raped her. In addition, on a separate occasion, he slapped her face, “causing her lip to swell and bleeding to occur.” At that time, she escaped “without shoes or proper clothing” through a window and was taken to a hospital by the police.

Sadly, this kind of routine and systematic domestic super-violence is not at all unusual among many Arab and Muslim couples, or among Muslim immigrants in the West. David Ghanim, in Gender and Violence in the Middle East, Nonie Darwish in Cruel and Usual Punishment, Cassandra in Escape From an Arab Marriage, Ayaan Hirsi Ali in Infidel, as well as my own work about honor killings all confirm the normalization of daughter- and wife-battering in Muslim Third World countries. Studies also confirm a very high rate of domestic violence in countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Back in Bayonne: Thereafter, the young woman (hereafter known as S.D.), filed a domestic violence complaint and a temporary restraining order was issued. She stayed with a Moroccan nurse from the hospital. However, after she discovered that she was pregnant, an imam persuaded the couple to reconcile on the condition that the domestic violence cease. That very night, after this alleged reconciliation, her husband raped her repeatedly—and then locked her in, thus depriving her of “food, (there was no refrigerator) or a phone for many hours.”

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