10 Taboos All Arabs Need to Get Over

Not everything is ‘3eib’


The Arab world isn’t alone in its abundance of taboo subjects. Taboos are a global phenomena that are ultimately baseless, but being the easily influenced humans that we are, we choose to live our lives by them. 

Due to embedded cultural norms that might have made sense thousands of years ago, the modern Arab is relentlessly held back from not only freely living their life, but often simply discussing taboos can feel like you’re overstepping the line. And it’s time for that to come to an end. 

Here are a few topics that we need to start comfortably speaking about… at the least.

Women’s rights
There’s no doubt that most Arab societies are patriarchal—and in order to shift gears, it’s necessary to have open discussions about gender equality

With television shows casually using blackface as a form of entertainment, there is no denial that racism is still an engrained aspect of our societies. It’s time we confront it, as blackface is only the tip of the racism iceberg in the region. 

The subject is so taboo that sex education is not even part of school curriculums, leaving society at risk of sexually transmitted diseases and other health concerns due to a lack of knowledge. 

Sexual harassment
Time and time again, cases of sexual harassment have become subject to public debate, and even then, it’s a subject that’s not always condemned or prevented. Currently, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Morocco continue to have ‘marry your rapist’ laws, despite public appeal. 

Mental illness
There’s no secret that mental illness is still taboo. The subject is largely thrown on the backburner in many families, whereby depression spells are associated with a lack of religious faith. 

With sex being a taboo subject, abortion inherently is as well.

Domestic abuse
In some nations in the region, rates of Arab women experiencing some form of violence are as high as 40 per cent. More than six in 20 female survivors don’t even speak about their abuse. 

Despite divorce rates running as high as 50 per cent in many Arab countries, the subject is still never discussed, leaving many divorced women and men carrying shame, and the children of divorced parents with a sense of confusion. 

Sexual Orientation
With homosexuality outlawed in many Arab nations, it’s no surprised that the subject of sexual orientation is a major taboo—leaving the LGBTQI communities of the Arab world living on the fringes. 

If there’s one word that every Arab is familiar with, it’s ‘3eib’! Both women and men’s sense of shame is heightened in Arab societies, with every many actions being attributed to a negative public perception, rather than their personal effects.

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