If you’re in a mood to be disgusted and angered, go read this Human Rights Watch report, “Women’s Unequal Access to Divorce in Egypt.” Or, if you’re in more of a hurry, read this Guardian article on the report. From the Guardian:
Shocking as this may seem, most Egyptian women regard beating as a normal and more or less acceptable part of life. Almost 86% of the women surveyed thought husbands were justified in hitting their wives sometimes, and a large majority said a refusal to have sex was sufficient grounds for beating.
The survey also showed the percentage of women aged 20-29 who thought beating was justified for a range of other domestic “offences”:
- “Talking back” to a husband: 70%
- Talking to another man: 65%
- Spending too much money: 42%
- Burning the dinner: 26%
Violent husbands can generally avoid prosecution on religious grounds, because the Egyptian penal code excludes acts committed “in good faith, pursuant to a right determined by virtue of the Shari’a” (Islamic law).
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“A survey conducted for the Egyptian government a few years ago found that one woman in three had been beaten at some time by her husband. Of those women, 45% had been beaten at least once in the past year…”
For comparison’s sake, a survey conducted by the US government a few years ago found that one American woman in five had been physically assualted by an “intimate partner” sometime in their lifetime, and 1.3% had been physically assaulted by an intimate partner in the past year.
Of course, in the USA women have – relatively speaking – a much greater right to get divorced from some asshole who beats her, so it’s not surprising that the “in the past year” statistic is so much lower. Which shows why the right to divorce, and reasonably good access to the right to divorce, is absolutely essential. (Amanda’s been all over this, from a different angle).