Establishing a Men-Network to Combat VAW in Bahrain
Violence against women is a global phenomenon that transcends
countries, religions, sects and cultures. However, the continuous
increase of this phenomenon in the Arab World can be attributed
to many interconnected cultural, social, legal and political factors.
For instance, religious interpretations and the patriarchal culture
give men the right to use violence against their wives and daughters.
In addition to this, the punishments and laws used are ineffective
and hence cannot protect women from domestic violence; to the extent
that, in some countries, honour-killing has become a common practice.
Also, there is a lack of care and state services for the vulnerable
groups in society, especially women.
Women in Bahrain, as in any other conservative country, are subjected
to domestic violence due to various reasons: the obvious shortcomings
in the Penal Law, the existence of a culture that encourages violence
against women, the lack of awareness regarding women’s rights, the
absence of a mechanism for demanding their rights and defending
themselves from physical and psychological harm at home or work;
finally, the lack of care for women at both the state institutions
and civil society organizations. The Supreme Council for Women published
a study last month on violence against Bahraini women. The study
concluded that most of cases are committed by husbands and that
the lower the income of a family the higher the probability of violence
According to the study, verbal insults are the most common form
of abuse, with a percentage of 12.1%, followed by 11.6% for degradation,
and 9.3% for snubbing. The percentages of women evicted of the house,
beaten and denied their allowances were close; followed by desertion,
ignoring, pushing, slapping and smacking. The lowest percentage
is for voluntary and non-voluntary confinement, rape and beating
with an object. The study also noted that the desire for dominance
is among the most common reasons for the violent behaviour of husbands
against their wives, as well as social upbringing which aids in
the production of violence. The study emphasized the role of cultural
heritage as a factor that is responsible for the violence of men
against women, especially within the family. This is in addition
to some specific religious interpretations that justify the husband’s
right to beat his disobeying wife.
In the context of responding to violence against women, a campaign
was launched on 15 July by the United Nation’s Office in Bahrain
entitled ‘Bahraini Men’s Network for Combating Violence against
Women’. The coordinator of the UNDP, Sayed Agha, said that ‘the
network includes 20 members representing MPs, politicians, businessmen
and journalists who were chosen for their active role in society
in order to promote the role of the network in society’. He added
that the Network is going to work through specific tools and mechanisms
to raise awareness to eradicate violence against women. Agha stressed
that violence causes poverty, social problems and decreases women’s
participation in development.
The Secretary General for the Supreme Council for Woman, Lolwa
Al Awadi, explained that violence against Bahraini women is not
exclusive to husbands, but includes fathers and brothers. She also
stressed the need for studying violence at work as well. In addition
to this, Al-Awadi stated that spreading awareness through the press,
conferences and teaching human rights as a subject, will act as
preventative measures against violence. Moreover, she added that
establishing a fund to ease the suffering of women in courts, amending
the Code of Procedures in Islamic courts, as well as the Law of
Evidence and revising the Penal Law are all steps that can be taken
to resolve the problem of violence.
The State Minister for Foreign affairs, Nazar Al Baharna, stressed
the importance of community participation in the combating violence
programme and called for official and civil institutions to support
the Network and unify their efforts against all forms of violence.
Bahraini women organizations praised the establishing of the
Network, and the President of Bahrain Young Ladies’ Association,
Samira Abdulla, expects that the Network will have an active role
in fighting violence. Moreover, the Director General of the Batelco
Centre for Combating Domestic Violence, Penh Bosbon, said that ‘the
set back in confronting violence against women is due to the fact
that men are not involved in the matter’.
The Second Vice-President of the House of Representatives, Salah
Ali, announced that a number of MPs have joined the Network, adding
that men are able to interfere to put an end to violence against
women and help in creating a culture that sees the use of violence
against women as unacceptable.