Violence against women in Arab and Islamic countries

Arch Womens Ment Health. 2003 Aug;6(3):165-71. doi: 10.1007/s00737-003-0170-x.


In Arab and Islamic countries, domestic violence is not yet considered a major concern despite its increasing frequency and serious consequences. Surveys in Egypt, Palestine, Israel and Tunisia show that at least one out of three women is beaten by her husband. The indifference to this type of violence stems from attitudes that domestic violence is a private matter and, usually, a justifiable response to misbehaviour on the part of the wife. Selective excerpts from the Koran are used to prove that men who beat their wives are following God's commandments. These religious justifications, plus the importance of preserving the honour of the family, lead abusers, victims, police and health care professionals to join in a conspiracy of silence rather than disclosing these offences. However, a fair reading of the Koran shows that wife abuse, like genital mutilation and "honour killings" are a result of culture rather than religion.

MeSH terms

  • Arabs*
  • Culture
  • Domestic Violence / ethnology*
  • Egypt / epidemiology
  • Family Characteristics / ethnology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Islam*
  • Israel / epidemiology
  • Marriage / ethnology
  • Social Responsibility
  • Tunisia / epidemiology
  • Women's Health*
  • Women's Rights