In nearly all countries surveyed, a majority of Muslims say that a wife should always obey her husband. At the same time, there also is general agreement – at least outside sub-Saharan Africa – that a woman should have the right to decide for herself whether to wear a veil in public.
Women and Veiling
Muslims in many of the countries surveyed generally favor a woman’s right to choose whether to wear a veil in public.30 This view is especially prevalent in Southern and Eastern Europe, Central Asia and Southeast Asia, including at least nine-in-ten Muslims in Bosnia-Herzegovina (92%), Kosovo (91%) and Turkey (90%).y
Muslims in most countries surveyed say that a wife should always obey her husband. In 20 of the 23 countries where the question was asked, at least half of Muslims believe a wife must obey her spouse.
Women and Divorce
Muslims in the countries surveyed are not united on whether women should have the right to terminate a marriage.31 In 13 of the 22 countries where the question was asked, at least half of Muslims say a wife should have this right. Most Muslims in Central Asia and in Southern and Eastern Europe hold this view, including 94% in Bosnia-Herzegovina, 88% in Kosovo, 85% in Turkey and 84% in Albania. Tajikistan is the only country surveyed in these two regions where a minority (30%) says women should have the right to initiate divorce.
Inheritance Rights for Women
In 12 of the 23 countries where the question was asked, at least half of Muslims say that sons and daughters should have equal inheritance rights.32 Most Muslims in Central Asia and in Southern and Eastern Europe hold this view, including 88% in Turkey and 79% in Bosnia-Herzegovina. In these regions, Kyrgyzstan is the only country where fewer than half (46%) support equal inheritance rights.
National Context and Gender Attitudes
Attitudes toward gender issues may be influenced by the social and political context in which Muslims live. For instance, levels of support for equal inheritance by sons and daughters is often more widespread in countries where laws do not specify that sons should receive greater shares. Indeed, in most countries where laws do not mandate unequal inheritance for sons and daughters, a majority of Muslims support equal inheritance. For example, nearly nine-in-ten Muslims in Turkey (88%) say all children should receive the same inheritance. Similarly, more than three-quarters of Muslims in post-communist Bosnia-Herzegovina (79%) and Kosovo (76%) hold this view. By contrast, in most countries where laws specify that sons should receive greater shares than daughters, a smaller percentage of Muslims favor equal inheritance, including a quarter or fewer in Jordan (25%), Iraq (22%), Morocco and Tunisia (15% each).
Women's Views on Women's Rights
In some, but not all, countries Muslim women are more supportive of women’s rights than are Muslim men. For example, in 12 of the 23 countries where the question was asked, Muslim women voice greater support than Muslim men for a woman’s right to decide whether to wear a veil in public. In the remaining 11 countries, opinions of women and men do not differ significantly on this question.
Sharia and Women's Rights
Overall, the survey finds that Muslims who want sharia to be the law of the land in their country often, though not uniformly, are less likely to support equal rights for women and more likely to favor traditional gender roles.