The universal phenomenon of wife battering has calamitous consequences on the battered woman, usurping her security, human agency and autonomy, thus relegating her to a secondary status citizen, incapable of contributing to the community's development. Research on wife battering in Egypt is very limited. The goal of this thesis is to explore battered women's lives in contemporary Cairo, focusing on battered wives' perceptions of abuse in relation to discrimination against women in Egypt and women's citizenship rights within the Egyptian state. This study was conducted using a qualitative research methodology. Ten in depth, semi-structured interviews were carried out with battered wives in Cairo, ranging in age between 25 and 50, and coming from varied socioeconomic and religious backgrounds. The findings revealed that domestic violence is not restricted to any class, age, or religion. Data analysis unveiled six themes that seem to exacerbate wife abuse. Those themes are social pressures, polygamy, extended family settings, financial abuse, pre-marital abuse and drug abuse, impotence and sadism.

Analysis of battered wives' perceptions of battering indicates women's

while family protection is considered women's first choice. Despite most of the battered women's awareness of their rights to police protection or to court divorces, few choose to pr-actice their rights out of fear of scandal, fear of losing their children and lack of family support for such measures. Battered wives' avoidance of the state's apparatuses can be attributed to the duality of the Egyptian legal system that offers women de Jure equality but discriminates against them in its application. Social values and norms further exacerbate discrimination against women by considering women as wards of their male kin. As wards of their husbands, women are subjected to punishment in the fom1 of wife abuse under the sanction of the state. Thus women's citizenship status is expressed through their male relatives. The state's role in reducing women's citizenship status is evident in the lack of specific laws prohibiting and punishing wife battering. The reservations made to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women are also an indication of the state's reluctance to improve women's status in society in an effective manner. By neglecting to address the issue of wife battering, the Egyptian state propagates the reduced citizenship status of Egyptian women.


School of Humanities and Social Sciences

Date of Award


Online Submission Date


First Advisor

Helen Rizzo

Committee Member 1

Helen Rizo

Committee Member 2

Cynthia Nelson

Committee Member 3

Nazek Nosseir

Document Type



203 leaves

Library of Congress Subject Heading 1

Abused women

Library of Congress Subject Heading 2

Abused wives


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Call Number

Thesis 2004/57