Bahrain

Population Size:

1.64 million.[1] 62.6% are male, 37.4% are female.

Number of People Experiencing Domestic Abuse Each Year:

2008: 30% of women, roughly 613,360 women, reported having experienced domestic violence.[2]


No research on male victims or other gender identities.


Cost of Domestic Abuse to the Economy Each Year:

No research.


Estimated % Change due to COVID-19:

46% increase in abuse.[3]

Current Law and Policy:

Bahrain has established a number of services for victims of domestic violence. However, no legislative reforms have been discussed since 2015, when The Law on the Protection Against Domestic Violence was passed. Victims of domestic abuse in Bahrain can either rely on the 1976 Penal Code, which criminalises rape and sexual harassment, or the 2015 Law. Despite the 2015 Law defining ‘domestic violence’ as “any form of physical, sexual, psychological and/or economic abuse”, attitudes in Bahrain remain heavily influenced by Sharia law and cases often go unreported. Spousal abuse of women is widespread, and women frequently do not seek legal redress due to fear of potential social reprisals and the stigma associated with such. Moreover, although “honour killings” are punishable under the 1976 Penal Code, there is a reduced penalty for those who kill their spouses upon discovering an act of adultery.


In a bid to address these attitudes, the 2015 Law established a Family Guidance Department in the Ministry of Social Development. This department provides family counselling centres for victims of domestic violence and, pursuant to the Law, the Ministry must raise awareness of their services. The Law also requires the government to collect data on domestic violence cases across the country and provides guidelines for the police and public prosecution services when dealing with domestic violence victims.


In 2017, Bahrain's Supreme Council for Women (‘SCW’) launched the ‘Takatof’ Initiative and created a database for abuse cases. At the initiative’s launch, Hala Ansari, the Secretary-General of the SCW stated that “Bahrain is a major contributor to the international efforts to combat violence against women”. The launch ceremony was attended by the UN Under-Secretary-General, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, and the UN Women Executive Director, Ines Makkawi. However, there has been little to no talk of new strategies or legislation to tackle domestic abuse in the country since this event.


A national legislative framework for reduction of domestic violence was proposed in a 2018 report by UNDP, UN Women, UNFPA and the UN Economic and Social Commission for West Asia.[4]



 

Sources


[1] The World Bank, (1). [2] D. Ahmed, “Bahrain”, (2008), Freedom House Report on Women’s Rights in the Middle East and North Africa, 7. [3] Gulf Daily News, “Domestic Violence Against Women in Bahrain Surge 46%”, (zawya.com, 4 May 2020), <https://www.zawya.com/mena/en/legal/story/Domestic_violence_against_women_in_Bahrain_surge_46-SNG_173704187/>.

[4] UNDP, UN Women, UN Population Fund (‘UNFPA’) and United Nations Economic and Social Commission for West Asia (‘ESCWA’), “Bahrain – Gender Justice and the Law”, (2018), Report, 14.