Dr Emaan Al Amari’s article published in Gulf News

Husband-beating on the rise in Arab Homes

It may be taboo to acknowledge, but husband-beating is on the rise in Arab homes, say psychologists
Dubai: Husband-beating in Dubai homes is on the rise, say psychologists, with many marriages erupting in violence.
Police figures back up the phenomenon.

Seven cases of husband-beating were reported in 2010 — up from just two in 2009. Police believes the numbers could be much higher as many cases go unreported. “Arab men rarely report these incidents and some even refuse to open criminal cases against their spouses, or even… report it to police officers, unless… circumstances [go] beyond [their] control [such as if the wife reports a case against him, or other people],” said the Dubai police’s Department of Criminal Investigation in a statement to XPRESS.

Widespread trend
Husbands are under attack elsewhere in the region too. In Qatar for instance, husband-beating accounts for almost every second domestic violence case.

Yet Dr. Hassan Bin Salim Al Buraiki of the Family Consultancy Centre in Qatar reckons the number of husband beating was not as high as other Arab states. He blames rising violence among married women on their upbringing, drugs, alcohol and weakness in men for the trend.

However, leading psychologist Dr. Raymond H. Hamden of Comprehensive Medical Centre in Dubai says the root of the problem lies in the fact that both sexes today are more aware of their rights and unwilling to back down. “A man can no longer hit his wife and not expect to be hit back. People are less likely to be like doormats and put up with it.

They are more aware of the rights,” Dr. Hamden says, explaining that the rise in husband beating is linked to a spike in mutual domestic violence.
Police figures show that as incidents of husband beating rose so did violent marital disputes — 95 in 2010 compared to 68 in 2009.

Eman Al Amari, a clinical psychologist from Dubai, urged society to celebrate these abused husbands rather than ridicule them. “We should respect these men for not hitting back,” she says. “Men will not agree to speak up for fear of shame and of being identified. They are more conservative on this topic,” she adds.

According to Eman, husband bashing accounts for around 20% of domestic violence cases in Arab countries, but cautioned it still paled in comparison to wife beating. She says during the last few years, she had come across half a dozen cases — two each in Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah and one each in one in Abu Dhabi and Fujairah — of violence against husbands.

Part of the problem, she says, stems from women who are confused about their identity, living in a Muslim society, but watching and imitating western role models on TV. The Saudi Arabian-born American graduate says probably Arab men are more relaxed and sanguine in their outlook, which at times is misinterpreted by their wives who take advantage of this fact to manipulate and abuse them.

“I’ve seen some women misinterpret the fact that their men are nice and take advantage of this by crying or using other manipulative means to have their way and even abuse them.”

Signs/reasons for husband-beating

  • Exaggerated need to control or dominate
  • Learned response to stress
  • Extreme emotional dependence upon victim
  • Relationship addiction.
  • Idea that violence gets results — if only temporarily. She gets her way.
  • Violence “feels good” – if only temporarily
  • Lack of conflict negotiation skills. Lack of cooperative decision-making skills