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Saudi Arabia

Campaign offers women protection from domestic violence

The King Khalid Foundation has launched perhaps one of the most strident anti-domestic violence campaigns in Saudi Arabia with a provocative image of a Saudi woman — clad in abaya and niqab — with a blackened eye.
The image, accompanied by the phrase in Arabic, “Some things can’t be covered — fighting women’s abuse together,” has drawn widespread attention among Saudis for its stark portrayal of battered women.
The campaign is geared to raise awareness among women, but also urges reporting cases of violence against women. It promises “legal protection for women and children from abuse in Saudi Arabia.”
Campaign organizers’ literature said: “The phenomenon of battered women in Saudi Arabia is much greater than apparent.”
Howaida, 38, a mother of four from Madinah, said she welcomes the campaign, but cautions that not all women will embrace the spirit of its intent.
“There needs to be a central place where women in trouble can ask for help,” Howaida said, adding: “This campaign is a start. But I also think there are many women who wouldn’t think about reporting that their husbands beat them because they are just too afraid.”
But she noted younger Saudi women would likely have little patience with violence against them. “Those young ladies will certainly call authorities if necessary,” she said.
In a survey conducted by the National Family Safety Program, 70 percent of all Saudis said there is domestic violence in Saudi Arabia. About 65 percent of the respondents said domestic violence is perpetrated by husbands, while 92.1 percent assert that those perpetrators must be punished. Moreover, 88.5 percent of the Saudis surveyed said that women subjected to domestic violence need protection.
However, the program noted that most of the Kingdom’s health and law institutions have no “documented and comprehensive procedures to deal with domestic violence.”
The program pointed to King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center, the Ministry of Social Services and the Ministry of Health as institutions that could provide help for battered women.
The program urged the government to establish a single institution to establish an advocacy campaign to prevent domestic violence. It also recommended adopting specific regulations to protect women.

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