RIYADH: Princess Adela bint Abdullah has lent her support and attention to the second national experts’ meeting on abuse against women and children that began yesterday.
Princess Adela said that the meeting is a continuation of last year’s deliberations and that the determination to implement its recommendations and reduce the number of abuse victims is greater than ever.
The two-day meeting, entitled “Updates in Fighting Domestic Violence in Saudi Arabia,” consists of four sessions: A review of last year’s recommendations with an evaluation of how far these recommendations were accomplished and brought into action; a closed workshop identifying five main obstacles standing in the way of fighting domestic violence; a forum suggesting solutions to fighting domestic violence; and a session, which is open to the media, for offering new recommendations.
“I give acknowledgement to last year’s experts meeting which encouraged the Ministry of Social Affairs to carry out research for a new system to protect women and children against abuse and violence,” she said. “In order to fight violence, certain things should be taken into account like defining neglect and abuse. Reporting violence and abuse should be compulsory and there should be a witness protection program. All that of course has to be done with full regard and consideration for confidentiality,” she added.
Princess Adela said that to fight violence in the Kingdom, people have to cooperate and collaborate. “We need to get governorates, the Ministry of Social Affairs and social care houses involved in such meetings and missions to ensure we move toward implementing and systemizing rules and recommendations for victims,” she added.
Dr. Maha Al-Munief, representing the National Family Safety Program (NFSP), said yesterday’s meeting discussed what has been successfully accomplished from the long list of last year’s recommendations.
“Last year’s meeting was a great success. However, not all recommendations were implemented,” Dr. Al-Munief said. “In this year’s meeting, we will try to overcome this problem by finding ways to implement recommendations and clearly identifying the main five obstacles for fighting domestic violence,” she added.
“The Ministry of Justice will be a significant partner of this year’s mission. The role of the ministry to fight violence and abuse will be very crucial in coming days.”
Dr. Mohammed Al-Eissa, minister of justice, said rates of divorce and domestic abuse in the Kingdom are rising according to court figures. He, however, said he does not believe domestic violence has become a phenomenon.
“The nature of a conservative society makes violence and abuse victims less visible than other societies. I admit that it is a problem but it is not a dilemma,” he said. “With enough education, the raising of awareness and mediating between couples in conflict, the number of victims will definitely be reduced.”
He also pointed out that there are organizations mediating to help partners get over their disagreements.
During his speech, he stressed the role of women in mediating in offices and courts, something that filled the room with applause. “Women are not only part of society, they are an important part of the family. Therefore, their role in mediating is highly significant,” he said.
During the first session, which was open to the press and the media, participants raised questions about the definition of domestic abuse and violence.
While discussing last year’s meeting, the NFSP declared that only nine percent of recommendations were completely implemented, nine percent were partially implemented, 59 percent were limited in their implementation, and 23 percent were not implemented at all. One of the most important demands raised by experts was the calling of a fatwa that classifies domestic violence and abuse as a crime.