Fanack Home / Bahrain / Society, Media and Culture / Society / The Family

The Family

Bahraini society remains deeply patriarchal. The husband and father heads the nuclear family and watches over the morality of his wife and children and unmarried females in the extended family. In a divorce, the nation’s religious courts generally grant mothers custody of their daughters under age nine and their sons under age seven, at which point custody generally reverts to the father. The father retains guardianship until his children reach the age of twenty-one. Even a non-custodial father retains the right to make all legal decisions regarding his children. Women have the right to request divorce in the religious courts, but the courts can deny the request.


Shiite women may (under Shiite law) inherit property, but Sunni women, governed, in personal status matters, by Sunni Maliki law, do not. But values do change. Rapid urbanization, public education, and exposure to more liberal attitudes through modern media and travel have led Bahraini women to spend more and more time outside the house. Until recently, the country had even been a pacesetter among the Arab Gulf states in women’s education and employment. While the other Gulf Cooperation Council countries and emirates are catching up with Bahrain or – as in the case of Dubai – have apparently surpassed it in educational and vocational possibilities for women, the country still has a relatively high ratio of women in the workforce. Their presence in the private sector amounts to a mere 13 percent, but they constitute 42 percent of the public workforce. This figure is even more impressive, given that many Bahraini women stop working when they marry, leaving only a few years between graduation and marriage to be active in the job market. But even this pattern is changing: Bahraini women increasingly re-enter the workforce after having given birth.

© Copyright Notice

Please contact us in case of omissions concerning copyright-protected work. The acquired copyright protected images used on/as featured image of this page are: ©Hollandse Hoogte | ©Fanack | ©Hollandse Hoogte

"Ignorance leads to fear, fear leads to hatred, and hatred leads to violence.
This is the equation."

IBN RUSHD/AVERROES (1126 – 1198)

We are a Dutch not for profit organisation (NGO), financed solely by individuals who share our belief in the importance of publishing and disseminating reliable, unbiased information on the Middle East & North Africa region. To represent the voice of the region’s people, we carefully echo the region’s heartbeat by offering fact-checked and therefore credible information.

Your support is greatly appreciated and helpful!


Get the latest update on the Coronavirus outbreak in the Middle East and North Africa.

Regional Update