Despite media campaigns, whether local or international, the issue of violence against women, especially domestic violence by husbands or family members, is still endless and unresolved. I still receive emails from women, especially expatriates, who were subjected to physical violence at the hands of their expatriate husbands, but they do not know what to.
This is a difficult situation, because speaking openly and publicly is not easy for them. They feel shamed and guilty. I think societies are not supportive of women in times of crisis, as she might be blamed or punished for raising her voice against being abused.
I received an email recently from an expat woman, who said she is a victim of violence by her expat husband. I quote her words: “Where to report if my husband abuses me physically and mentally? I am suffering from mental abuse and now I am under medication.”
I think it is very difficult for any woman to come from a distant country to live with her husband, possibly as a newly-married couple leaving behind family and friends, and then get beaten and insulted by the man she trusted. Such women often keep silent because they are afraid they will suffer more harm by the same person, while some seek divorce or go back to their countries when the opportunity arises. In all cases, the woman loses her health, money and maybe her life.
It is known that many countries in the Arab world have signed agreements to support and protect women, but this does not mean that the subject of violence has ended forever, because I believe violence is linked to the culture and social upbringing of a person that he as a male is the strongest and women are secondary. Some men reject violence against women, but some consider it normal behavior.
In 2018, Dr Fatima Al-Salem, a faculty member at the media department at Kuwait University, presented a shocking study on the prevalence of violence against women in Kuwait. Salem reported information on the high incidence of violence here. The most prevalent forms of violence in Kuwaiti society are physical abuse, psychological violence and verbal abuse. I believe we need more of such transparent and bold studies. This is exactly what we need to end the issue of violence.
Personally, I believe agreements cannot end the issue of violence unless society plays an active role in raising awareness and spreading a culture that rejects such ill behaviors. Women may bear insults and curses once or twice, but if this situation continues, she may suffer from disorders and psychological problems, or the beating may lead to permanent disability. The situation becomes worse after divorce or the imprisonment of the husband, and when little kids are involved. This affects the society and not just the woman.
By Muna Al-Fuzai