Ahsa – Family Development Center here reported 510 cases of domestic violence in 2008.
“This is, however, still a conservative number as many cases go unreported to the center,” said Khaled Al-Hilaibi, director of the center.
For many families in conservative Saudi society, it is still a social taboo to report domestic violence, he said.
Over the past year, the center said that girls tended to run away when they were abused by family members, leading them to develop a criminal mentality leading to drug addiction and prostitution. A domestic violence educational awareness campaign needs to be launched to curb the rise of such cases, he said. Shelter houses for victims of domestic abuse should be started across the Kingdom, not limited only to metropolitan cities, he said.
“More government bodies are urged to shoulder the responsibility, especially among the silent majority of domestic violence victims,” he said.
Saudi Arabia announced the launch of its first campaign to combat domestic abuse in late 2005 with the inauguration of the first center to protect children, women and the elderly in Makkah.
The center was established with the collaboration of Unicef. – Okaz/SG