Study finds risks facing the Arab family entity
September 24 2013 02:28 AM

Spinsterhood, early marriage of girls, widespread violence, drug abuse, dropouts from school,  street children, and child labour are the main risks facing the Arab family entity, a study conducted by a network of NGOs has found.

The findings were released at the conclusion of an international seminar hosted by Doha International Family Institute (DIFI) yesterday. The event discussed the various challenges, solutions and policy implications regarding the Arab family unit.

The 11th annual Arab Network for NGOs report was prepared by 16 researchers from 11  Arab countries. Egypt, Sudan, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Qatar, Bahrain and Yemen are the countries covered by the report.

Entitled “The Arab Civil Society Confronting Social Risks,” the research features country reports and a cognitive map of the main risks faced in the respective societies. The findings are aimed at helping create a solid base for the policy-making process.

Poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, growth of slums, social marginalisation and exclusion were the major threats to families in many of the Arab countries.

The report refers to human trafficking, exploitation of women and girls, and even trafficking of children (in the case of Yemen). Several country reports mention violence in the educational institutions not only by teachers, but also by students against each other as well as towards their teachers (Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, and Sudan).

There are references to practices which violate the human dignity and the family values. This was especially true in the case of slums and the prevalence of incest in these settings in addition to incidence of  psychological and physical violence against women.

Unemployment, especially among fresh graduates, is high on the list of risks. Child labour and homeless children are consequences of poverty and unemployment. All country reports refer to the risks of violence and drugs addiction among youth and some segments of children.

They have also identified direct risks threatening the entity of the family, mainly the unprecedented increase in the rates of divorce, domestic violence, early marriage of girls, increase in spinsterhood, exploitation of women and children, erosion of the value system that used to prevail in the family relations, increased reliance on foreign maids, and marginalisation of aged persons.

There are also many positive aspects in the majority of the countries covered by the study. These include the sustained solidarity and mutual support reflected in the flow of funding from the rich to the poor through thousands of NGOs in the Arab region. Civil Society organisations are striving to raise the awareness of marginalised categories and fight for their rights.

DIFI is a leading international institution in Qatar that supports research, policy and outreach programmes that promote the development of Arab families. With research as its core focus, DIFI supports a wide range of international, regional and local evidence-based studies relating to marriage and family structure, women, fertility and demography, child and family safety, and parenting.

A member of Qatar Foundation, DIFI has a Special Consultative Status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council.

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