Psychiatrist says women must know their rights against abusive husbands



JEDDAH: RIMA AL-MUKHTAR | Arab News Staff

Published — Monday 25 February 2013

Last update 25 February 2013 1:20 am

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A recent study by Sociology Assistant Professor Latifah Al-Abdullatif of King Saud University in Riyadh showed that among women who are beneficiaries of social security, half of the respondents are being abused by their husbands. A third of the women she interviewed at the university suffered the same fate.
Her study also showed that the biggest percentage of physical abuse is carried out by hand. The use of sticks comes second place and sharp equipment is the least favored tool for the abuse of women.
Mona Sawaf, a psychiatrist who gives counseling to women, families and children, said, “I believe this study needs a second look at the statistics.
The numbers are really high and she didn’t mention the total number of women who took part in the study. Are the percentages out of 10 respondents, 20 or more? We don’t know that for sure,” said Sawaf.
There are no accurate statistics on the number of abused women or even children in Saudi Arabia, said Sawaf. “Women feel ashamed to report on such private matters to the police,” she said. “The numbers we already have are from women who were in hospitals and emergency rooms because of the abuse.”
The study also showed that Al-Abdullatif conducted the study in Riyadh among women from two social levels. “Yet she compares between people living in the desert, villages and those in Riyadh. She said that men in the desert are less abusive than city dwellers. This does not make sense to the reader,” said Sawaf. Scientific studies show that abuse is international and not tied to a certain society, religion, culture or nationality, said Sawaf.
“Even in the most liberal societies, you will find this kind of act but in different percentages,” she said.
“Some of those societies do not provide a protection mechanism that would put men in their place. Those societies need to educate women on their rights and how to protect themselves from abusive husbands,” she added.
Not taking a woman seriously when she is reporting abuse can harm her, said Sawaf. “When women discuss their issues with their families or the authorities and they do not take action, a woman might give up. This which will make her husband abuse her even more,” she added.
Latifa Al-Abdullatif could not be reached for a response to the questions on her study.

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