OTI Online
Fall 2008

Terror For Women Exists Throughout History, Across Cultures
by Mahin Hassibi


Long before the French revolutionaries legitimized terror and terrorizing as an instrument of subjugation, men had discovered its effectiveness in their relations with women.

Biology has made women the object of one of the most compelling desires of men and armed them with the necessary instrument of achieving it. Throughout history and in every community, women have experienced the existential dread of their being a woman living along side men. They have been raped, enslaved, sold, bought and used for bartering with other men, humiliating them, or taking revenge against them. They have been murdered by men in their family after having been sexually violated in order to protect the violator's "honor." They have been forced to be “comfort women" without being given any comfort in return, not even the acknowledgement of their suffering. They are abandoned, superceded, divorced and even murdered when men no longer find them exciting.

In war and peace, women -- young and old, even girls and the elderly -- satisfy some distorted sexual need of men . Therefore, they are the preferred victims of serial killers in every society.

Being a mother is yet another potential source of terrorizing women. Men may leave their offspring without acknowledging their existence or any obligation towards them. They may use children as a bargaining chip to extract concessions from women in divorce or, in polygamous societies, to force the older wife to accept a new rival. Children are used to force the women into prostitution because otherwise the children will starve.

Even though different societies and different moral, religious and philosophical systems have attempted harm reduction to women through rules of conduct, legal limits and religious sanctions, no woman can truly feel safe from the vicissitudes of terror experienced by her sex. Any woman who has found herself in position to warn a female child about the dangers represented by men realizes this terror.

©Joan Roth

Mahin Hassibi is a Professor of Clinical Psychiatry (Ret.) at New York Medical College.

Also See: by Mahin Hassibi Let’s Change the Equation on Sex and Earning in Feminists and Prostitutes; and Talking Shop in the Medical Field: The Unfolding of A Strange New Disease in HIV, AIDS and Misogyny.

Also See: Honor Killings and Human Bombs: Abuses, Old and New by Jan Goodwin in this edition of On The Issues Magazine.

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