Violence against women in Oman: What is it, and how does it happen?

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Are you completely free to choose your own lifestyle?

Can you live or move to somewhere independent of your family?

Can you travel without needing to get your family’s permission?

Are you subjected to violence or verbal threats within the family, from any of its members?

If you said ‘no’ to any or all of the first three questions, or ‘yes’ to the last one, you are suffering violation of your rights.

Amnesty International lists several categories of violence against women, such as gender-based violence and sexual violence and harassment.[1]

Gender-based violence is when violent acts are committed against women and LGBTI people on the basis of their orientation, gender identity, or sex characteristics. Gender based violence happens to women and girls in disproportionate numbers.

In Oman, violence against women and girls happens for many reasons, such as punishment for bad behaviour or in reaction to a woman’s academic or career choice that the family doesn’t like. Article 44 of the Omani Penal Code permits parents to use violence as long as it comes under the heading of discipline.

Sexual violence and harassment: Young women and girls in Oman are subjected to many forms of sexual harassment, such as the use of inappropriate sexual language. Omani law is unclear on the matter of sexual harassment, so women and girls are usually reluctant to report it. The law also makes the woman party to the offence should someone try to blackmail her with photographs she has willingly sent.

Sexual violence, meanwhile, is when women are subjected to rape. Omani law does not criminalise rape, that is sexual relations that occur without the woman’s consent. One of the pretexts for the law not making marital rape a crime is reliance on Islamic Sharia, which forces wives to obey their husbands.

Violence against women and girls is one of those things that aren’t spoken about in conservative societies like Oman. A large section of the male population thinks the matter should be left to families, and that what goes on within the family home should stay within the home and not be brought out in the open. To date, the government has still not set up a reporting hotline to protect women and girls from violence within the family.

Similarly, the sexual violence and harassment suffered by domestic workers, mainly housemaids, continues to this day. Many of the reports and complaints received by the Omani Centre for Human Rights are backed up by evidence, in the form of photos and video, of the sexual harassment and violence practised against this group.  The government has no excuse for still not having yet provided a hotline for reporting cases of this kind.

According to a study by the Ministry of Social Development published in 2018, 74% of women and girls suffering violence did not report it or turn to the authorities for help![2] Of the 26% who did, a quarter resorted to the justice system and 12.8% went to the police. The study also said that 36% of these cases occurred after marriage!

Forty-one percent of women in the study affirmed there was violence against women in Oman.

A majority of both the men and women studied said that husbands committed the most violence against women, followed by brothers.

The most common types of violence identified in the study were: beating (15%), humiliation (13%), verbal abuse (10%), forced marriage, threat of divorce, and not allowing women to go out (5%).

According to the study, the most common effects of violence on women were: depression and anxiety (16%), isolation (15%) and hatred of men (10%).[3]

Another study by the ministry concluded that there was a “need to set up an integrated national system with the participation of all relevant agencies dealing with abuse and violence against women; to establish a mechanism to monitor cases of abuse and violence; to create a national database; to strengthen the role of the Family Protection Commission and concentrate on these cases of abuse; and to strengthen societal awareness”.[4]

Do you really believe the family/marital home is

the safest place for women and girls?

Violence against women and girls is a crime.

Marital rape is a crime.

Sexual harassment is a crime.

Don’t keep quiet about any of these things

if they happen to you!


[1] https://www.amnesty.org/en/what-we-do/discrimination/womens-rights/

[2] http://alwatan.com/details/239468

[3] Ibid.

[4] https://www.omandaily.om/?p=572950