Arab societies adore clinging to taboos created by misguided interpretations of religion and outdated cultural norms.
These prohibitions stop people in the region from freely expressing beliefs, choices, and preferences they should normally be able to openly discuss.
They are topics that continue to be labeled taboo even though they exist in our communities and are part of our lives.
Here are a few of them:
1. Mental health
Depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other mental disorders are still deemed taboo by people across the region due to myths and misconceptions accepted by many.
Though such illnesses affect thousands, it's a rarity to find someone who's willing to openly discuss mental health in public just because our societies either judge them or don't take them seriously.
The stigma attached to mental illness also prevents some from seeking necessary treatment or forces them to seek it in secret.
2. Sexual relationships
Sex and anything related to it has always been considered an untouchable taboo in the ultra-conservative Arab world. Sexuality isn't something to be openly discussed because it's often interlinked with immorality.
However, in recent years, many in the region have been challenging this taboo by publicly fighting for sexual freedom.
3. Sex education
Schools across the region do not include sex education in curriculums. Some colleges - those in the more conservative Arab countries - also omit sex education from courses.
This is related to the fact that sex, in general, is deemed a taboo subject; one that's not to be discussed even if it's for educational purposes.
Homosexuality has been and continues to be a forbidden subject to discuss, support, or even worse, be familiar with on a personal level.
Anytime the topic is brought up in the media or online, it causes a stir among people in our societies, most of whom often judge members of the LGBTQI+ community and even bully them.
This taboo makes coming out one of the most courageous, yet difficult, things to do.
6. Women independence
In most Arab societies, nothing is more taboo than the freedom of women.
Traveling alone, staying out late, going out with friends, choosing what to wear, and so much more are all things considered prohibitions for females in many countries across the region.
7. Living with disabilities/illnesses
Even being ill or disabled is sometimes not OK to reveal to people or discuss in Arab countries. Having cancer is a taboo, having autism is a taboo, having HIV is a taboo, and so on.
These taboos often force people struggling with an illness or disability into silence, when they're the ones who should be heard out.
8. Speaking out about abuse, rape, and harassment
Thousands of abuse cases go unreported across the region simply because victims are pressured into not reporting them.
It's a taboo to talk about being sexually assaulted or abused, and sometimes, it's those who are closest to victims who ask them to stay quiet about their ordeals.
The lack of support for people subjected to harassment and the social stigmas they have to face if they do go public with their personal stories render them helpless.