Tebliği Buradan İzleyebilirsiniz.


Exploring the power of faith in preventing domestic abuse: reflections from the Somali regional state of Ethiopia[i]

Sandra Iman Pertek

Keywords: domestic abuse, domestic violence, spousal violence, intimate partner violence, Gender-Based Violence, GBV, religion, faith, Islam


Abstract: The potential of faith perspectives to combat domestic violence has been overshadowed by misunderstanding religion as a contributing factor to gender-based violence (GBV). On the contrary, it is found that religion can also be a protective factor against GBV. This paper develops an argument and provides evidence that religion can be a powerful resource to prevent domestic abuse and faith-based interventions can be effective strategies to challenge societal discriminatory norms and violence. I examine Islamic perspectives on GBV and the ways in which a faith-based GBV intervention of Islamic Relief Ethiopia employs religion to combat GBV in a humanitarian context. I argue that local faith communities and faith leaders inspired by religion can take ownership and seek to end domestic violence. Humanitarian infrastructure should recognise religious resources as inherent capacities of local faith communities and integrate faith perspectives into programming to effectively prevent and respond to GBV among populations of high religiosity.           

Domestic abuse is a global phenomenon with the estimate that around one woman in three, with variance across regions[ii], have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence in their lifetime (WHO, 2017). Sustainable Development Goals[iii] made a commitment to end violence against women and girls, including do­­mestic violence. Whilst, globally more than eight-in-ten people identify with a religious group, the role of religious actors and faith have been underrecognized as a resource to combat domestic violence.

Domestic violence is a threat to family life. All types of violence, including physical and emotional violence, endanger family functions. According to the UN one of the specific family functions is “establishing emotional, economic and social bonds between spouses; …protecting family members;…and providing basic care, socialization and education of children.”[iv] Domestic abuse violates in particular the protective family function exposing its members to violence, inevitably leading to the fragmentation of emotional and social bonds in the family. Domestic violence lends itself also to breaching international human rights of victims, particularly the freedom to live free from violence, guaranteed by the 1948 Universal Human Rights Declaration. Yet, domestic violence breaches also the Islamic human rights and the objectives of the Shariah, which essentially aims to protect human life and its integrity.

Whilst there is no official data demonstrating that religious beliefs are among the key drivers behind GBV incidents and the official statistics do not indicate higher rates of GBV among Muslim nations, qualitative evidence suggests that religious misconceptions and patriarchal interpretations are sometimes used by abusers to justify violence or by survivors to make sense of their experiences (McKerl, 2009; Alkahteeb, n.d.). Conversely, some studies have found that religion is a source of strength, resilience and protection amongst vulnerable groups. For example, a study by Ghafournia (2017, p. 155) found that a majority of abused Muslim immigrant women interviewed in Australia believe that their religion protects them from violence and promotes equality with men and that their experience of abuse and violence stems from breaching religious concepts and not practising one’s religion. Accounts of these women include, “My religion says equal rights of women and men, but people of my country do not follow that rule. They say men are always up and women are down”. (Amal, 35, Syria, ibid); and “I just know that I feel what people are doing in the name of Islam is different from what God or his prophet really want and say… Now they use whatever is beneficial for them.” (Zeinab, 26, Iraq, ibid). Most of the abused women interviewed differentiated between Islamic values and cultural beliefs and expectations that delayed their decision to seek help. Whereas a minority of interviewed women equated culture with religion and blamed both as a barrier to seeking help (ibid).

The purpose of this paper is to contribute to a better understanding and application of Islamic faith perspectives to prevention of domestic violence in the humanitarian and development sector. Firstly, I review briefly Islamic perspectives on domestic violence. Secondly, I consider the ways in which a faith-based gender-based violence (GBV) intervention in a humanitarian setting employs religion to combat GBV by examining a case study of Islamic Relief’s pilot GBV project in the Somali region in Ethiopia. I conduct my analysis based on a discussion of existing knowledge, drawing upon a review of academic and grey literature from my PhD research project. I refer the reader to an interdisciplinary literature on religion, gender and development and my own experience of adapting faith approaches to GBV programming. I end with reflections and recommendations to practitioners and policy makers to engage faith perspectives in preventing domestic abuse among faith communities.


Islamic perspectives as a framework to combat domestic abuse

In Muslim faith, even though sources and prophetic examples are unambivalent in encouraging love, kindness and peace in the family, religious scriptures have been blamed for allowing man’s violence against women. Despite of various culturally influenced religious interpretations and many Islamic scholars agreeing that there is no excuse in religious sources to resort to domestic violence, sometimes, abusers misuse religion to justify their abusive behaviour.


GBV in Islam is severely misunderstood in both Muslim and non-Muslim circles. For example, the fundamental faith principles of justice and non-violence are often overshadowed by patriarchal views and harmful traditional practices of some communities. The increase of faith-oriented engagement with the root causes of GBV, such as societal and cultural norms often conflated with religion, helps to deconstruct the religious precepts from cultural influences. Such efforts must recognise that patriarchy permeates most cultures and all religions often twist interpretations of religious text in ways that justify oppression. Subsequently, socially constructed understandings of religious practices have often been blamed for condoning GBV, and especially violence against women. In the following sections I examine Islamic faith principles and teachings that faith communities can use to challenge GBV, as well as some contestations of these concepts.


Despite the vast diversity of Islamic thought and how multicultural the global Muslim population is, there are some central tenants of Islam that are universal for all Muslims. One of these principles is to uphold justice, as commanded numerous times in the Qur’an (for example, in verses 4:135; 5:8; 49:9; and 16:90)[v]. Equality of women and men in front of God, whilst contested by various groups, is well articulated throughout the primary sources of Islam, both the Qur’an and the Sunnah[vi] (Ashraf, 2005; e.g. Qur’an 4:1; 2:228; 4:32). The inherent dignity of all human beings, women and men alike, as enshrined in religious sources, urges to preserve human dignity and take all possible measures to abstain from any actions that undermine it. The Qur’an also requires humanity to protect the oppressed groups, including survivors of violence. The tradition of the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) urges faith communities to prevent wrongdoing, Whosoever of you sees an evil, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then [let him change it] with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart and that is the weakest of faith”[vii].


Considering the above overarching Qur’anic principles, it is unambiguous that any violence against either women or men must be prevented and stopped. When exploring analysis of domestic violence from an Islamic perspective, it is important to acknowledge the variety of contested opinions and religious viewpoints, as reflected in the diversity of Muslim faith communities. Therefore, the following discussion is by no means exhaustive but rather introductory to key complexities.

Islamic sources and prophetic examples are unambivalent in encouraging love, kindness and peace in the family. For example, one of the Qur’anic verses states that “And among His signs is this: that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquillity with them, and He has put love and mercy between your [hearts]” (Qur’an, 30:21)[viii]. The tradition of Prophet Muhammed, as a non-violent and supportive husband and father, shows no tolerance for violence: “The best of you is the best to his family, and I am the best to my family”[ix]. Yet, religious scriptures, influenced by culture, have been blamed for allowing man’s violence against women, particularly intimate-partner violence (IPV), also known as spousal violence, within the framework of reciprocal marital responsibilities[x].


Some religious texts have been interpreted in ambiguous ways. The most contentious verse of the Qur’an referred to in the discussion on domestic violence is chapter 4 (called al-nisa, in English ‘women’) verse 34. Among various English translations, Abdel Haleem’s English translation of this verse reads: “Husbands should take good care of their wives, with [the bounties] God has given to some more than others and with what they spend out of their own money. Righteous wives are devout and guard what God would have them guard in their husbands’ absence. If you fear high-handedness from your wives, remind them [of the teachings of God], then ignore them when you go to bed, then hit them. If they obey you, you have no right to act against them: God is most high and great.” (Qur’an, 4:34). This excerpt presents the way a husband should behave in case of spousal disobedience and lewdness. The third step, after advising them and forsaking them in bed, relates to idribuhunna in Arabic. This has several interpretations in English, including ‘striking’. Some interpretations seem to contradict each other, as well as the overarching religious principles and prophetic guidance, such as love and mercy in marital relationships. Many translate verse 4:34 as lightly hitting and striking, whereas others refer to separating, departing, traveling, ignoring, abandoning, and blocking ears, to name a few (see Hasan, 2013).


Many Islamic scholars agree that there is no excuse in religious sources to resort to domestic violence (Hasan, 2013; IICPSR Al Azhar & UNFPA, 2016), yet a diversity of opinion exists in Muslim faith communities. In an effort to conceptualise varied views on domestic violence in Muslim communities, Ammar (2007) developed a typology of domestic violence in Islam differentiated by four approaches:


1) Interpreting Qur’anic verse 4:34 as permissibility to beat and discipline one’s wife

2) Permitting light/symbolic wife-beating with strict conditions and as a last resort to reconcile, after the two preceding steps of reprimanding a spouse and refusing to share a bed with her

3) Interpreting verse 4:34 as an exception to the general principles of Islamic sources and indicating that beating is permissible but not desirable

4) Interpreting the Arabic word idribuhunna (traditionally translated as ‘lightly hitting’ and compared to a tap with a toothbrush) as something other than hitting and showing a list of alternative meanings of the Arabic word in English. Such interpretations should be critically read from the perspective of practices promoted by Prophet Muhammed (pbuh), who, as mentioned, never violated his family members and instead instilled love and peace.


Nonetheless, abusers use religion to justify their behaviour rooted in patriarchy that sometimes replace religious values (Alkahteeb, n.d.). “It was not the patriarchal precepts of religion but the patriarchal interpretation that facilitated the abuse” (Ghafournia, 2017, p. 159). Some perpetrators misuse religious precepts and use patriarchal interpretations to control and influence their spouses. Religious teachings can become a tool and justification of domestic violence by which perpetrators assume power and control for their own agenda (McKerl, 2009). Some of these tactics have been described by Alkahteeb (n.d.) in the Muslim Wheel of Domestic Violence[xi]. For instance, a male perpetrator may claim that he is in a superior position ordained by God, known as a qawammun (manager) of his wife[xii], and has the right to control her, even though a marriage contract gives a woman full mobility. Another control mechanism can be the Islamic responsibilities of a wife towards her husband, such as respect for his privacy, and a reminder that God would condemn her potential disclosure of abuse. Other methods include calling abuse discipline, referring to and undermining personal piousness of a victim and misusing religious teachings[xiii].


Patriarchal cultures and religious constructs influence the acceptability of domestic violence by both spouses and have a profound and detrimental impact on survivors of violence[xiv]. Some women who internalise socially and culturally accepted patriarchy believe that disciplining a wife is a legitimate correcting action. Continuous abuse influences women’s belief structure and how they think of themselves (Ahmad et al., 2004). Often, abused women who are religious endure their predicament with the idea that ‘this life is not important’, awaiting a better life and reward in heaven for their endurance. At this point spirituality can become a source of vulnerability to further harm (McKarl, 2009)[xv]. Abusive husbands use IPV to contest and reinforce power dynamics in their relationship, misusing religion to legitimise their behaviours (Carlson, 2006). Such techniques lead survivors to isolation, self-blame, emotional abuse, coercion, intimidation and fear (ibid, Alkahteeb (n.d.).[xvi] Therefore, as Muslims believe in social justice and inherent God-given dignity of every human being, in the spirit of the central tenants of religious law, logic suggests that the only interpretation of verse 4:34, which is commensurate with Muslim values and commitments, is to condemn any kind of spousal violence.

I will now explore the interaction between GBV and religion, in particular Islam, in practice by examining the intervention of Islamic Relief Ethiopia, a faith-based organisation (FBO) and part of Islamic Relief Worldwide.

Case study - faith-based approach to GBV programming

FBOs are often local basic service providers, offering support services for GBV survivors, including education, health services, emergency shelter, protection spaces, psychosocial support, spiritual care, counselling and livelihoods. Some FBOs engage faith leaders and local faith communities in preventing and responding to GBV. An example of a faith-based approach to tackle GBV is Islamic Relief Ethiopia’s (IR) project entitled “Combating Gender-Based Violence of Women and Girls in the Dekasuftu Woreda of Liben Zone” within the Somali regional state of Ethiopia. The key outcomes of the project aimed to increase the safety of women and girls, decrease GBV tolerance amongst communities and promote adequate access to health services for people subjected to GBV, by integrating a health component into this project (Surti & Pertek, 2018). This pilot intervention was part of a wider organisational shift in Islamic Relief, aiming to integrate gender perspectives into humanitarian and development work and seeking to end GBV, in accordance to Islamic Relief’s overarching Gender Justice Policy (IRW, 2015). The project supported one of the policy commitments to tackle GBV through engaging faith-leaders to help dismantle religious misconceptions fuelling violence against women and girls. Islamic Relief’s strategy for eradicating GBV involves “including religion as part of the solution and tailoring interventions to the specific needs and sensitivities of the community” (IRW, 2016, p. 3). This pilot GBV project aimed to develop and test Islamic Relief’s faith-sensitive approach to end GBV.


In project implementation Islamic Relief Ethiopia (IRE) adapted a ‘Community Conversation’ (CC) approach on prevention of GBV and fully embedded its activities in communities, building upon their capacities and knowledge. CC is a participatory and transformational methodology from the 1970s aiming to challenge and change people’s attitudes and behaviours for more equitable and dignity-protecting practices. In the CC process community members gather, discuss and reflect on important social issues affecting their lives. Each participant draws upon their own principles and beliefs, including religious ideas, so an Islamic perspective was inevitably central in discussions, as religion is an important part of the identity of displaced Somali communities and inseparable from culture. Subsequently, the project stimulated the process of sharing these resources and assets to facilitate individual and collective empowerment.


Community conversation is a continuous process of building relationships, identifying and exploring concerns, taking joint community decisions, and acting and reflecting on outcomes (see Figure 1).


IRE implemented the project in a phased-out process to ensure community ownership and acceptance. Several project activities were implemented in a sequence (see Figure 2).

Figure 2 Process of IRE’s project activities (Source: Surti & Pertek, 2018)


At the onset, faith leaders from project locations were invited to training in the capital, Addis Ababa, which was dedicated to women’s issues, children’s rights, family issues and Islam. Subsequently, IRE, together with trained religious leaders, mobilised community volunteers. In total 16 workshops were organized to equip them to deal with enquiries from communities regarding the relevance of some religious teachings and their interpretation in reference to specific social and women’s issues, such as domestic violence from both Islamic and Ethiopia’s constitutional perspective. Secondly, religious and community leaders utilised a sequence of behavioural change communication methods to sensitize communities on the most prevalent GBV issues in their villages during female and male community conversations, as well as during mixed sessions. Also, several community-owned activities, including women’s and men’s discussion groups, school clubs, and sermons on women’s rights and GBV issues at congregational prayers were held to address GBV in the Dekasuftu district.


Faith leaders acted as focal points of reference at times of confusion and disagreement on GBV issues, particularly highly sensitive topics such as wife beating. As an authority, they provided rulings regarding harmful traditional practices that were wrongly believed as rooted in religious teachings. They were also a source of solace and guidance regarding forgiveness for wrong-doings. In cases where local communities did not believe a faith leader from a neighbouring village, testimony and guidance was sought and obtained from a trusted local faith leader. The role of faith leaders from the same locality was essential for a community’s reflection and changing their thoughts regarding the acceptability of some harmful practices. This shows that faith leaders have authority and influence on the perceptions, attitudes and behaviour of their local communities. Religious leaders also offered sermons during Friday prayers regarding women’s status, GBV and girls’ education, reaching out to 800 faith congregation members. Local authorities participated in some parts of the project and offered their support to facilitate the project’s implementation.


A range of the psychosocial support activities were conducted in four villages, each known as a kebele[xvii], to challenge different forms of GBV. Methods such as drama, poetry and cultural songs against GBV and promoting women’s status were enacted by kebele officials, elders and other community members who were part of the men-to-men and women-to-women discussion groups. In the Sora kebele, different methods of teaching and awareness, such as songs and poetry, were used to educate the community about the detrimental effect of rape on survivors and the society at large, and how to handle incidents of sexual violence. The communities reported that they enjoyed the psychosocial activities and recommended expanding awareness raising and behavioural changing activities to all communities in Dekasuftu woreda[xviii]. They promised to share the activities and stories with the neighbouring community, despite the scarcity of resources. Interestingly, men equally took part in the process of raising awareness and were instrumental in delivering anti-GBV messaging to achieve a common understanding.


The project’s monthly reports and final evaluation reports recorded qualitative evidence of project impact (Le Roux & Bartelink, 2017). Dozens of positive and open group and community conversations stimulated local engagement, ownership and reflection on various GBV issues. The project resulted in dismantling some religious misconceptions driving FGM/C, domestic violence, marriage by inheritance, barriers to girls’ education and misuse of dowry (Surti and Pertek, 2018). In total, 199 women and 200 men from 16 villages (kebeles) attended regular monthly meetings in a safe and friendly space for eight months, whilst over 38,000 people benefited from the project indirectly (IRE, 2017). Women and girls started seeking justice from community leaders and reporting abuse to the police (ibid). I will now discuss in more detail changes around domestic abuse during the project implementation[xix].


One of the most contentious and debated issues was domestic violence. The majority of the male group members believed that beating a woman is right and necessary, only a minority of males opposed such views (IRE, 2016a). In men-to-men groups in the Bundakaran, Takahagar, Gunway, Qurabul and Sora kebeles the facilitators asked questions such as “Is sexual violence/rape culturally or religiously acceptable in our community?”, “If a rape case has occurred in our kebele, how do we manage it?”. Such questions incited lengthy discussions in each group, revealing a range of diverse cultural beliefs and traditions that allowed domestic violence, and infantilized and undermined women’s capacities; “Woman should [be] beaten because they are like children and therefore need to be punished [physically] when they make mistakes…sometimes women need to be beaten even when they are depressed to stimulate them…beating is the solution for women to discipline them. Otherwise, the women undermine the husbands up to the point that it will be difficult to identify who is the husband or the wife.” (Male representative, 32 years old, from the Sero kebele).


Those who believed that physical violence (woman beating) is right argued that a husband should beat his wife from the beginning of the marriage union by beating her with a stick three times; the first time when she enters the house to ascertain whether she is possessed with an evil spirit. Her submission and acceptance of violence symbolizes her purity, whereas her refusal and escape stand for her curse. During her escape, a woman would be tied to a tree and would undergo a ritual with a dark smoke to cleanse her.


On the other hand, community members opposing domestic violence argued that woman have equal rights with men and are equally if not more important than men in the family. Such beliefs were mainly based on the appreciation of women’s reproductive role and their caring responsibilities. This group of men perceived perpetrators as criminals deserving adequate measures in legal justice.


The religious leaders referred men’s groups to religious sources and explained that it is imperative to follow their religion, rather than a culture of abuse. They highlighted, both in group discussions and Friday sermons, that rape is completely unacceptable both from a religious and cultural perspective. Religious leaders clarified that physical violence against women (spousal violence/intimate partner violence) is wrong, through referencing the Qur’an and the Hadiths. They referred to the prophetic example and recalled how he encouraged others to enjoin kind treatment and the honoring of one’s wife. Local leaders recalled the saying of Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) “The best of you are those who are the best to their wives, and I am the best of you to my wives”[xx]. As a result, all group members agreed and accepted that spousal violence is wrong and has no place in Islam or any law. They also promised to abide by this and pass the message to others.


In the women’s groups, even though most women were against domestic violence, sometimes the attitudes of women perpetuated violence as well. For example, “[I] believe being beaten by [my] husband is right and acceptable... if [my] husband did not beat [me] when [I] make a mistake it implicates that there is something wrong with marriage or husband doesn’t love [his wife].” (female representative from the Kudabul kebele, 27 years old, IRE, 2016a).


Religious leaders also explained to the women’s groups that physical violence against them is wrong and unacceptable from an Islamic perspective. Consequently, all woman agreed that physical violence should not be accepted, and they were determined to combat misbeliefs and acceptance of domestic violence. Religious misconceptions were discerned by dismantling some of the patriarchal interpretations of religious sources. Although IRE observed that physical violence against women decreased towards the end of the project’s implementation (IRE, 2017), educating women and working on changing gender norms and mindsets is a long-term process. It requires continued commitments, engaging communities, challenging myths and confronting stigma on a regular basis.


The study found that faith leaders are particularly aware of sensitivities around domestic abuse in their communities and helped to find the most acceptable ways to address domestic abuse from a faith perspective. Faith leaders played a pivotal role in challenging a community’s discriminatory attitudes towards women and girls and domestic abuse. They clarified that physical violence against women is wrong, through mentioning the references in the Qur’an and the Hadiths, and referred to the prophetic example to enjoin kind treatment and honoring of one’s wife. As a result, group members participating in the community conversations of the GBV project of Islamic Relief, agreed that spousal violence has no place in Islam. The case study shows the role that faith leaders can play in the prevention of domestic abuse and contribute to the protection of family by working with sacred texts and using it as a powerful tool to challenge domestic abuse.

IRE’s project reports state that the communities initially believed that some types of GBV are permitted by their religion and, by engaging with faith perspectives in community conversations along with religious leaders, they realised that violence has no grounds in religion. Such realisation helped them to change their mindset and commit to move away from harmful practices, promising a transformation in social norms in the long-term.



The case study of IRE shows that faith communities follow varied religious interpretations and navigating through them can help communities to build upon their own capacities to understand that GBV has no place in Islam. The process of self-realisation and changing mind-sets is best supported by revealing evidence of the harmful effects of violent practices on individuals and communities. The rational and spiritual aspects of understanding the harm of GBV can drive change in communities and impede them from harmful traditional practices. The project developed an innovative approach and methods to combat GBV in a context-specific fashion that builds upon the community’s religious resources and assets and spiritual and social capital. This intervention followed international


Religious leaders involved in this project have been vital in condemning domestic abuse by providing sound religious evidence for GBV practices as sinful and promoting a holistic and comprehensive explanation that there is no justification for violence against women and girls in Islam. Faith leaders were found to be particularly aware of potentially sensitive issues in their communities and helped to find the most acceptable ways in the community to address abuse. They worked in tandem with community volunteers to clarify misconceptions of communities about religious teachings and violence against women, by correcting their understanding of scriptural sources of Islam and promoted non-violence from the legal and Muslim faith perspective in gender relationships. Selected community volunteers became champions against GBV as they drove transformation in social norms and social acceptance of abuse.

An effective prevention of and response to domestic abuse to protect family life and human rights requires the recognition of the key drivers of violence, the risks factors as well as the protective factors in communities. Responses to domestic abuse should build upon the existing resources and capacities of affected communities and individuals, whilst addressing risks determined by social location and intersectional identities of individuals. For instance, the recognition of the social and spiritual capital of faith communities is required. Global GBV standards in humanitarian action need to go a step further in engaging with the faith aspect of communities, as the recommendations of GBV guidelines (IASC, 2015) recognise religion only as a vulnerability factor and not a resource to combat GBV.

Although, IRE observed that physical violence against women decreased towards the end of the project’s implementation, educating women and working on changing gender norms and mindsets is a long-term process. It requires continued commitments, engaging communities and challenging myths on a regular basis. As 80% of global population identify with a religious group, it is imperative for governments, donors, academics, humanitarian and development agencies to engage with religious beliefs and practices and their potential to be solutions to problems, such as domestic abuse, that often are endangered by religious and cultural misconceptions and patriarchal interpretations. The common perceived incompatibility between employing religion and faith to combat domestic abuse deserves scrutiny in order to avail the untapped inherent resources of communities and individuals that resonate with their spiritual, emotional and social worlds.


Author would like to thank Islamic Relief Worldwide and Islamic Relief Ethiopia for access to project reports and photographs.



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[i] This paper adapts sections of the author’s chapter in print “Deconstructing Islamic perspectives on sexual and gender-based violence (GBV), towards a faith-based approach to GBV programming” in Khan, I. & Cheema, A. (in print) Islam and International Development: Insights for working with Muslim Communities. Practical Action Publishing.

[ii] Variance from 23% of women in high income countries to 38% in South-East Asia region

[iii] In particular Goal 5 – Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality

[iv] https://www.un.org/popin/icpd/prepcomm/official/rap/RAP4.html

[v] All English Qur’anic citations are from Haleem, Abdel M.A.S., 2005, The Quran. Oxford World Classics, Oxford University Press, New York

[vi] Sunnah is known as the tradition of Prophet Muhammed (pbuh), a record of his sayings and behaviours.

[vii] Narrated by Muslim, classed as saheeh; Hadith 34 in 40 hadith Nawawi.

[viii] Other Qur’anic verses regarding mercy in the family include: “And live with them in kindness. For if you dislike them – perhaps you dislike a thing and Allah makes therein much good” (Qur’an 4:19) “Kind speech and forgiveness are better than charity followed by injury. And Allah is Free of need and Forbearing" (Qur’an 2:263).

[ix] The hadith (n.d.) Al-Tirmidhi, No 3252 Narrated by Aisha; Abdullah ibn Abbas. Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi.

[x] Though there are others who believe that the framework of reciprocal marital rights and responsibilities allows no space for claiming ‘marital rape’.

[xi] The Muslim Wheel of Domestic Violence is adopted from the power and control wheel (Pence & Paymer, 1993)

[xii] Qawammun is another contested term in Islamic faith communities, defining a man’s role as a protector of a woman. It is ascribed with various translations in English. For more see (Mir-Hosseini et al., 2014)

[xiii] For example, a husband urging his wife to remain obedient to him by referencing false religious narrations that encourage a woman to bow to her husband, breaking the core pillar of Islamic faith that is to submit only to God. Further methods may include threatening to marry another wife, forcing a victim to drop charges to maintain the family name, and calling a wife a bad Muslim (Alkahteeb, n.d.).

[xiv] Patriarchal influences on religious interpretations reinforce patriarchy at inter-personal and community levels. For instance, analysis of domestic violence in the Dzaleka Refugee Camp in Malawi showed that family, neighbours, community leaders and camp personnel contest and reinforce patriarchy (Carlson, 2005). A study by Ahmad et al. (2004) found that women who agreed with patriarchal social norms were less likely to identify a situation of violence to be abusive. It was also found that limited education and older age correlated with stronger patriarchal views (Ahmad et al., 2004). Also, abusive men tend to more likely represent patriarchal views (Smith, 1990).

[xv] Such reflections may affect their judgement in keeping themselves safe from abuse (McKarl, 2009).

[xvi] In result of patriarchy-driven GBV, status, empowerment and access to services of a woman can be constrained as her social interaction is usually controlled by her husband (Shabbar, 2012). In addition, the shame of being abused and feeling inferior prevents abused women from disclosure so they endure violence in silence (James, 2010).

[xvii] A Kebele is the smallest administrative unit of Ethiopia, similar to a ward or a neighbourhood

[xviii] A Woreda is an administrative district in Ethiopia

[xix] For changes in other areas of GBV see: Pertek, S. (in print) Deconstructing Islamic perspectives on sexual and gender-based violence (GBV), towards a faith-based approach to GBV programming” in Khan, I. & Cheema, A. (in print) Islam and International Development: Insights for working with Muslim Communities. Practical Action Publishing.

[xx] See footnote no. 4

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