Child Sexual Abuse Studies in Arab Societies: A Systematic Review and Directions for Future Research

Afnan Attrash-Najjar, Carmit Katz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Although child sexual abuse (CSA) is acknowledged as a worldwide social phenomenon, less is known about CSA within Arab societies. The current systematic literature review was designed to highlight the empirical knowledge on CSA in Arab societies. Guided by PRISMA principles, key databases were searched, with no time limit, for studies meeting the inclusion criteria. Fifty-seven studies were identified. The majority focused on the prevalence of CSA in various Arab societies around the world, with a wide range of rates reported. It is important to stress two main barriers addressed by the included studies. The first relates to the issue of taboo and the forbidden discussion of sexual content. The second is ethical, in which the researchers expressed their fear of creating emotional distress for their participants. A small group of studies examined parents’ perceptions of CSA and the need for parents’ involvement in the protection of their children. Another small group of studies focused on professionals’ perceptions and experiences in contending with CSA, as well as their distress, conflict, and urgent need for support and guidance. The conclusions from the systematic literature review emphasized the enormous challenge of conducting studies on CSA in Arab societies and the urgent need to advance this research while also including children and adult survivors, whose perceptions and experiences are currently understudied. Moreover, the discussion stresses the need to adopt an intersectionality paradigm in future studies to advance the improvement of CSA policy and practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1300-1324
Number of pages25
JournalTrauma, Violence, and Abuse
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2023


  • Arab societies
  • child sexual abuse
  • culture
  • intersectionality
  • taboo


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