Patriarchy and misogyny work hand in hand in parts of the Arab world. These systems often grant men, husbands, fathers, brothers or even sons the chance to get away with abuse. Sometimes that abuse translates into murder.
The latest victim of such violence is an Egyptian woman named Aya. The woman was set on fire by her own husband because "she couldn't bear him a child after three years of marriage."
The horrific crime took place in Egypt's Rawd Al Farag and saw the abusive man tie up his wife, douse her with a flammable substance, and set her on fire. He then simply walked out of the couple's apartment and went up to his mother's, located in the same building.
Neighbors said the husband stood on the balcony of his parents' home while his wife was dying. No one from his family called for help or alerted authorities.
Ambulances and police arrived at the scene after neighbors reported the incident. By then it was too late to save Aya, who had suffered severe burns and irreversible damage to one of her lungs. The criminal husband was immediately arrested by authorities.
He has since been referred to public prosecutors who have charged him in the case.
The couple's neighbors spoke to press, revealing that Aya was a victim of domestic abuse throughout her three years of marriage. Many said her husband constantly berated the young woman and beat her up, accusing her of being "infertile."
Individuals were able to upload photos of the victim's burned body and face online, which brought the media's and public's attention to the incident. Needless to say, her story sparked outrage among people in Egypt and across the Arab world.
"I can't even imagine that a man set his wife on fire because she couldn't get pregnant," one online user wrote in shock.
Others called on Egyptian authorities to hand the man the strictest sentence there is under the country's laws.
*Images and videos of the victim's burned body are circulating on social media but we choose not to share such graphic content in line with ethical standards.
Violence against Arab women is unfortunately reaching new heights
News of Aya's murder comes at a time when violence against women seems to be escalating in the region.
Just weeks back, a Jordanian man gouged his wife's eyes in front of his own children following a domestic dispute. In October, another Jordanian husband beat his partner to death in yet another horrific crime.
What are regional authorities doing in the face of this rise in domestic abuse cases? Not enough. Women across the region continue to demand that authorities not only pass anti-domestic violence laws but also properly implement them because they seldom do.
A case in point is Saudi Arabia, a country that criminalized domestic violence in 2013 but still witnesses a rise in such cases. Activists say this is mainly due to the fact that the country's legal system continues to cultivate a misogynistic environment that further encourages violence and discrimination against women.
Similar legal structures are in effect in other Arab countries as well, including Kuwait, Jordan, Syria, and Egypt.