Depression among Gulf women related to bias, social isolation: psychologist

May 14, 2011

Moza Al Malki - The Peninsula

Most suicide cases in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member-states are reported during long holidays, particularly during the sizzling summer months, a Qatari psychologist has said.

“Women in the GCC states, particularly, are victims of gender bias and suffer social isolation,” Moza Al Maliki said. “Most of them are imprisoned in homes during the long summer break.”

Educated or not, most GCC women are forced to live under the authority of their brothers — even if they are younger, she said.

“This applies even to those women who are divorced and choose to return to their parental homes. Their plight after divorce deepens rather than ends as they must live a life dictated by their brothers,” said UK-educated Moza.

During her stint as a teacher at Qatar University, Moza said she got phone calls from some of her female students during the summer and they invariably complained of loneliness and talked of ending their lives in desperation.

“I used to counsel them and persuade them to think positively and look ahead,” she told Qatari daily The Peninsula.

A study, conducted in Qatar in 1992 by the Ministry of Interior in coordination with the psychiatry departments of Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), on suicide cases involving girls “failed to gather accurate figures and was abandoned,” she said.

“There is no official recognition for suicide in Qatar and deaths due to suicide are referred to as ‘sudden death’ or ‘stroke’,” Moza said.

Suicide is viewed by Islam, the religion of the overwhelming majority of GCC natives, as one of the greatest sins.

Students largely suffer from study-related stress and they are under huge pressure, especially during exams. Their major worry is what would happen if they fail and how they would be able to face their near and dear ones after their debacle in exams.

“Recently, a child tried to kill himself after his father died. The child, after watching a movie, thought that by killing himself he would be able to meet his father in line with the movie’s message,” Moza said.

“Suicide among adolescents is also a problem and must be studied at length to get at the root of the malaise so combative efforts can be launched,” she said.



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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