Beliefs about Wife Beating among Arab Men from Israel: The Influence of Their Patriarchal Ideology

Muhammad M. Haj-Yahia*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

123 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)193-206
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Family Violence
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2003

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The present study was partially funded by a grant from the Kahanoff Foundation.


  • Arab men
  • Beliefs about wife beating
  • Domestic violence
  • Patriarchy
  • Wife abuse in Arab society


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