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Stressed-Out Men Beating Their Wives

Economic pressures appear to be fueling a rise in violence against women.
By Ali al-Nawas

Teacher Sunniyyah Abdu-Wahid said she is beaten every week by her husband “with or without reason”.


Sometimes he punches her in the head and she passes out. He even beats her in front of their five children.


“I’ve made many sacrifices [for him], but he doesn’t appreciate them,” she said, adding that her husband is also verbally abusive. “I respect him and I do not neglect him but he doesn’t respect me, even before my children.”


Analysts say cases of domestic violence have been on the rise, but accurate statistics are difficult to gain because much of it goes unreported. Deteriorating living conditions, which have put additional stress on families, are considered to be a major factor.


Last month, IWPR reported on an increase in child abuse across the country with minors being beaten by their fathers and even suffocated to death by their mothers.


Health officials blamed the rise on the breakdown of security in the country and expressed concern that cases were being overlooked because of the government’s focus on countering the insurgency.


Interviewed about the growing instance of wife-battering, psychologist Ahlam Ali said many women are putting up with beatings for fear of the damage a divorce would have on relations between their family and that of their spouse.


“She is obliged to endure the situation because marriage in our country is also a link between the two families, and divorce leads to problems between them,” he said


Like many battered housewives Samah Anwar, who has seven children, blames economic hardships for her husband’s rage.


“The social and financial situation affects the relationship between men and women, particularly the difficulties we have today,” she said.


Hind al-Saffar, a member of the Women’s Rights Association, said the organisation is trying to educate women about the law and their rights.


“The chaos in the country has played a role in men’s victimisation of women,” she said. “But beating women with or without reason is unacceptable.”


Omer al-Rawi, an engineering graduate with five children, admitted that he had beaten his wife, attributing it to the “psychological pressures that a man cannot endure”.


“But I regretted it and I repented,” he said. “I am against violence and women must be loved.”


Noori al-Ubaidi, a prayer leader at a mosque in the al-Jamia district, said domestic violence contravenes Islamic teachings.


“The man who beats his wife goes against the instructions of the Prophet, who said ‘men must respect women’,” said al-Ubaidi.


Ali al-Nawas is an IWPR trainee in Baghdad.


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