Privacy

Privacy is another very important cultural value in Arab culture and is related to family honour. Family issues or problems are considered the business of family members and are not to be discussed outside the family.

If a person does talk about another family member to an outsider, they may be considered as breaching family honour and casting negative perceptions on the family. Family issues and problems are discussed and resolved between family members, which includes grandparents and uncles/aunties, and individuals are counselled by other family members.

This poses challenges to service providers who are working with young people, women, or men and are dealing with issues that affect other family members. In particular, agencies that provide family counselling and work on issues of intergenerational conflict need to be mindful of these cultural considerations and implement strategies which are culturally appropriate and effective in engaging Arabic speaking families.

Although family privacy is treated with sanctity, the personal privacy of the individual is not afforded the same value and is not viewed with importance as in modern Western cultures. Given that the individual is inseparable from the family, there is no cultural notion of the individual’s personal privacy. Consequently, there is no word in the Arabic language equivalent to the English ‘privacy’ – the word that has closest meaning in Arabic is “loneliness”.