Women breaking the silence

Discussing the epidemic of domestic violence that our country faces is incredibly important, however it is exceedingly important to know how the same type of violence affects women and children around the world.

One area of the world in which violence against women and children is gaining media momentum, women are gaining the confidence to speak up and out about their abusers, and find support in advocates around the world is the middle east.

Though there are many speaking out and offering solutions or ways to decrease the huge issue such as the establishment of a separate complaints department specializing in domestic violence in such countries as Afghanistan and Pakistan, and an increase in the number of policewomen allocated to deal with Domestic Violence, it is still a cultural shame to deal with such issues. In the Gulf states there is almost no reporting of violence against women. A complaint brings disgrace on the accuser and her family. Matters are usually taken care of within the family, to the detriment of the victim.

Recently, reports specifically regarding violence against children by The Global Initiative to End all Corporal Punishment of Children have been published. These reports outline laws and policies regarding punishment and deliberate humiliation of children in each state in the Middle East and North Africa and recommends:

  • explicitly prohibiting all violence against children, including all corporal punishment, in the family and in all other settings
  • encouraging political, community and faith leaders and educators to support awareness-raising initiatives and public education
  • review the extent of violent victimization of children, including in the family, through interview studies with children themselves, parents and other carers
  • review safeguards to protect children from all forms of violence in the full range of residential institutions and other forms of alternative care, state and private, and implement any necessary improvements.

Of note, they explain the following statistics:

  • Egypt: a recent survey found that 80% of boys and 62% of girls reported corporal punishment by teachers during one year
  • Iran: corporal punishment is permitted as a sentence for crime and as a disciplinary measure
  • Kuwait: in a survey of 321 parents, 86% agree to corporal punishment as a method of child discipline
  • Saudi Arabia: corporal punishment is lawful within the home but prohibited in school
  • Yemen: research on physical and humiliating punishment of children in Yemen found that almost 90% of children reported that physical and humiliating punishment is the main method of disciplining them in the family.
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