Journal of Family Violence

, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 193–206 | Cite as

Beliefs About Wife Beating Among Arab Men from Israel: The Influence of Their Patriarchal Ideology

  • Muhammad M. Haj-YahiaEmail author


Despite the recent increase in public and professional interest in the problem of wife beating in Arab society, in Israel, and in the rest of the Arab world, there is a serious lack of empirical research on different dimensions of the problem in those societies. This paper presents the results of a survey conducted among a systematic random sample of 362 Arab husbands from Israel, in an attempt to examine the contribution of patriarchal ideology toward explaining their beliefs about wife beating. Although about 58% of the participants indicated that there is no excuse for a man to beat his wife, 15–62% still justified wife beating on certain occasions (e.g., adultery, failure to obey husbands, disrespect for parents and relatives). In addition, although the participants tended to perceive abusive and violent husbands as responsible for their behavior, 52% still expressed understanding of that behavior and, on some occasions, 23–43% even blamed the wife for violence against her. Regression and multiple regression analyses revealed that over and above the participants' age and level of education, their masculine sex-role stereotypes, negative and traditional attitudes toward women, nonegalitarian marital role expectations, and familial patriarchal beliefs were the most significant predictors of beliefs about wife beating. Implications of the results and limitations of the study are also discussed.

wife abuse in Arab society beliefs about wife beating Arab men domestic violence patriarchy 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Abdo-Zubi, N. (1992). Family, Women, and Social Change in the Middle East: The Palestinian Case, Canadian Scholars' Press, Toronto.Google Scholar
  2. Bailey, K. D. (1982). Methods of Social Research, 2nd edn., Free Press, New York.Google Scholar
  3. Barakat, H. (1993) The Arab World: Society, Culture, and State, University of California Press, Berkeley.Google Scholar
  4. Bograd, M. (1984). Family systems approaches to wife battering: A feminist critique. Am. J. Orthopsychiatry 54: 558–568.Google Scholar
  5. Burt, M. R. (1980). Cultural myths and support for rape. J. Pers. Soc. Psychology 38: 217–230.Google Scholar
  6. Carlson, B. E. (1984). Causes and maintenance of domestic violence: An ecological analysis. Soc. Serv. Rev. 58: 569–587.Google Scholar
  7. Choi, A., and Edleson, J. L. (1996). Social disapproval of wife assaults: A national survey of Singapore. J. Comp. Fam. Stud. 27(1): 73–88.Google Scholar
  8. Dobash, R. E., and Dobash, R. P. (1979). Violence Against Wives, Free Press, New York.Google Scholar
  9. Dobash, R. E., and Dobash, R. P. (1992). Women, Violence, and Social Change, Routledge, London.Google Scholar
  10. Dunn, M. (1960). Marriage role expectations of adolescents. Marriage and Family Living, 22: 55–66.Google Scholar
  11. Dunn, M., and DeBonis, N. J. (1979). Teachers' and Counselors' Guide to Accompany a Marriage Role Expectations Inventory, Family Life, Saluda, NC.Google Scholar
  12. Dutton, D. G. (1988). The Domestic Assault of Women, Allyn and Bacon, Boston.Google Scholar
  13. Dutton, D. G. (1994). Patriarchy and wife assault: The ecological fallacy. Violence Vict. 9(2): 167–182.Google Scholar
  14. Edleson, J. L., Eisikovits, Z. C., and Guttman, E. (1985). Men who batter women: A critical review of the literature. J. Fam. Issues 6(2): 229–247.Google Scholar
  15. Edleson, J. L., and Tolman, R. M. (1992). Intervention for Men Who Batter: An Ecological Approach, Sage, Newbury Park, CA.Google Scholar
  16. Ewing, C. P., and Aubrey, M. (1987). Battered women and public opinion: Some realities about the myths. J. Fam. Violence 2: 257–264.Google Scholar
  17. Gentemann, K. (1984). Wife beating: Attitudes of a non-clinical population. Victimology 9: 109–119.Google Scholar
  18. Gerber, G. L. (1991). Gender stereotypes and power: Perceptions of the roles in violent marriages. Sex Roles 24: 439–458.Google Scholar
  19. Gerber, G. L. (1995). Gender stereotypes and the problem of marital violence. In Adler, L. L., and Denmark, F. L. (Eds.), Violence and the Prevention of Violence, Praeger, Westport, CT, pp. 145–155.Google Scholar
  20. Gondolf, E. W. (1985). Men Who Batter: An Integrated Approach for Stopping Wife Abuse, Learning, Holmes Beach, FL.Google Scholar
  21. Greenblat, C. S. (1985). “Don't hit your wife...unless”: Preliminary findings on normative support for the use of physical force by husbands. Victimology 10: 221–241.Google Scholar
  22. Haj-Yahia, M. M. (1991). Perceptions of Wife Beating and the Use of Different Conflict Tactics Among Arab–Palestinian Engaged Males in Israel, PhD Dissertation, University of Minnesota.Google Scholar
  23. Haj-Yahia, M. M. (1995). Toward culturally sensitive intervention with Arab families in Israel. Contemp. Fam. Ther. 17(4): 429–447.Google Scholar
  24. Haj-Yahia, M. M. (1996). Wife abuse in the Arab society in Israel: Challenge for future change. In Edleson, J. L., and Eisikovits, Z. C. (Eds.), The Future of Interventions With Battered Women and Their Families, Sage, Thousand Oaks, CA, pp. 87–101.Google Scholar
  25. Haj-Yahia, M. M. (1997). Predicting beliefs about wife beating among engaged Arab men in Israel. J. Interpers. Violence 12(4): 530–545.Google Scholar
  26. Haj-Yahia, M. M. (1998a). A patriarchal perspective on beliefs about wife-beating among Arab Palestinian men from the West Bank and Gaza Strip. J. Fam. Issues 19(5): 595–621.Google Scholar
  27. Haj-Yahia, M. M. (1998b). Perceptions of abusive and violent husbands by engaged Arab men from Israel. J. Soc. Psychol. 138(6): 772–786.Google Scholar
  28. Haj-Yahia, M. M. (1998c). Beliefs about wife-beating among Palestinian women: The influence of their patriarchal ideology. Violence Against Women 4(5): 533–558.Google Scholar
  29. Haj-Yahia, M. M., and Edleson, J. L. (1994). Predicting the use of conflict resolution tactics among engaged Arab–Palestinian men in Israel. J. Fam. Violence 9(1): 47–62.Google Scholar
  30. Harway, M. (1993). Battered women: Characteristics and causes. In Hansen, M., and Harway, M. (Eds.), Battering and Family Therapy: A Feminist Perspective, Sage, Newbury Park, CA, pp. 29–41.Google Scholar
  31. Heise, L. L. (1998). Violence against women: An integrated, ecological framework. Violence Against Women 4(3): 262–290.Google Scholar
  32. Hui, H. C., and Triandis, H. C. (1985). Measurement in cross-cultural psychology: A review and comparison of strategies. J. Cross-Cultural Psychol. 16: 131–152.Google Scholar
  33. Jubran, R. (1994). Characteristics of the non-Jewish population in Israel. Economics Work 9: 213–235. (In Hebrew)Google Scholar
  34. Kandiyoti, D. A. (1987). Emancipated but unliberated? Reflections on the Turkish case. Feminist Stud. 13(2): 317–338.Google Scholar
  35. Klein, E., Campbell, J., Soler, E., and Ghez, M. (1997). Ending Domestic Violence: Changing Perceptions/Halting the Epidemic, Sage, Thousand Oaks, CA.Google Scholar
  36. Marlowe, D., and Crowne, D. P. (1961). Social desirability and response to perceived situational demands. J. Consult. Psychol. 25: 109–115.Google Scholar
  37. Moghadam, V. M. (1992). Patriarchy and the politics of gender in modernizing societies: Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Int. Sociol. 7(1): 35–53.Google Scholar
  38. Mugford, J., Mugford, S., and Easteal, P. (1989). Social justice, public perceptions, and spouse assault in Australia. Soc. Just. 16: 102–123.Google Scholar
  39. Russell, M. N., and Frohberg, J. (1995). Effectiveness of belief system change in treatment of abusive men. Paper presented at the Fourth International Family Violence Research Conference, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH.Google Scholar
  40. Saunders, D. G., Lynch, A. B., Grayson, M., and Linz, D. (1987). The Inventory of Beliefs About Wife Beating: The construction and initial validation of a measure of beliefs and attitudes. Violence Vict 2: 39–57.Google Scholar
  41. Shokeid, M. (1993). Ethnic identity and the position of women among Arabs in an Israeli town. In Azmon, Y., and Izraeli, D. N. (Eds.), Women in Israel, Transaction, New Brunswick, NJ, pp. 423–441.Google Scholar
  42. Smith, M. D. (1990). Patriarchal ideology and wife beating: A test of a feminist hypothesis. Violence Vict. 5(4): 257–274.Google Scholar
  43. Spence, J. T., and Helmreich, R. (1978). Masculinity and Femininity: Their Psychological Correlates and Antecedents, University of Texas Press, Austin.Google Scholar
  44. Sugarman, D. B., and Frankel, S. L. (1996). Patriarchal ideology and wife assault: A meta-analytic review. J. Fam. Violence 11(1): 13–40.Google Scholar
  45. United Nations (1989). Violence Against Women in the Family, Center for Social Development and Humanitarian Affairs, United Nations Office Vienna.Google Scholar
  46. United Nations (1993). Strategies for Confronting Domestic Violence: A Resource Manual, Center for Social Development and Humanitarian Affairs, United Nations Office, Vienna.Google Scholar
  47. Yllo, K. A. (1984). The status of women, marital equality and violence against wives: A contextual analysis. J. Fam. Issues 5: 307–320.Google Scholar
  48. Yllo, K. A. (1988). Political and methodological debates in wife abuse research. In Yllo, K., and Bograd, M. (Eds.), Feminist Perspectives on Wife Abuse, Sage, Newbury Park, CA, pp. 28–50.Google Scholar
  49. Yllo, K. A., and Straus, M. A. (1990). Patriarchy and violence against wives: The impact of structural and normative factors. In Straus, M. A., and Gelles, R. J. (Eds.), Physical Violence in American Families, Transaction, New Brunswick, NJ, pp. 383–399.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Paul Baerwald School of Social WorkThe Hebrew University of JerusalemJerusalemIsrael

Personalised recommendations