The politics of disclosing female sexual abuse: A case study of Palestinian society

Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


Introduction: This paper argues that, by understanding the socio-cultural and political context within which disclosure or non-disclosure of sexual abuse takes place, we are better able to develop an analytical framework that might shape culturally sensitive social policy towards sexual abuse and thereby reduce it.Method: The data for the study were extracted from records available on 38 cases of sexually abused Palestinian girls, as well as interviews conducted with victims and their parents whenever possible. In-depth interviews were conducted with 19 professionals who dealt with these 38 cases.Findings: Contextual analysis of the data revealed that acknowledgment of sexual abuse took place only in situations where the abuse was extremely traumatic, publically apparent, and the victim absolved of blame. Disclosure resulted in approximately 10% of the cases in the killing of the victim. Responses involving measures such as hymen reconstruction, marriage to the rapist, and abortion were used by family and society to 'nullify' sexual abuse. The intricacies bearing on the decision to disclose or not disclose sexual abuse were discussed within a socio-cultural and political frame of reference. A paradigm of analysis is provided to clarify this complex relationship. Copyright (C) 1999 Elsevier Science Inc.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1275-1293
Number of pages19
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1999


  • Disclosure
  • Female sexual abuse
  • Palestinian society


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