JEDDAH — King Khalid Foundation has recently launched a campaign calling for measures to tackle domestic abuse against women and children in the Kingdom.
The campaign, featuring messages such as “What is hidden, is worse” and “Some things can’t be covered” took off with the launch of a poster featuring a veiled woman with a bruised eye.
The King Khalid Foundation was established in 2001 by the family of the late King Khalid, who ruled from 1975 in Saudi Arabia until his death in 1982.
King Khalid Foundation has adopted a research project by Sami Al-Damegh and Princess Munira Bint Abdul Rahman Al-Saud to finalize a system of measures to help reduce domestic abuse in Saudi Arabia.
The project aims to focus on the phenomenon of abuse against children and women. A 12-page report was released by the foundation stating that the phenomenon of abuse is worse than expected.
The report said: “It’s a phenomenon that is still shrouded in darkness. Anyone who works in security forces knows about it and those who work in social organizations and charity centers can see a part of it.
“Also, people who work in hospitals and schools can see a fraction of it, but no one knows the exact amount or how much it has spread or the real reasons or actual impact in total.”
According to the report, research has shown that abuse repeats itself.
Samar Fatany, a columnist on social and cultural issues, has initiated a White Ribbon Day in Saudi Arabia in an attempt to raise more awareness on the issue of violence against women and address the negative attitudes in society.
She said: “After I wrote that article (on abuse against women), we received a lot of supporters to launch it here locally. The campaign is to change the mindset of society starting from schools and universities to everywhere. We are trying to revive these positive chivalric attitudes of men.” The campaign aims to have champions in every sector, icons in society and activists.
Those who abuse were likely victims of abuse and harm at one point in their lives and their victims will harm someone in the future, said the report.
Therefore, it is a phenomenon that will snowball unless this circle is stopped, the report claimed.
Statistics issued by the Ministry of Social Affairs last year revealed 45 percent of children in the Kingdom were reported to be victims of different forms of violence and 70 percent of children face abuse from their parents. However, the Ministry of Social Affairs has never released any statistics on abuse against women in the Kingdom.
The National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) has reported 1,998 cases of abuse against women out of a total 2,293 domestic abuse cases between 2004 (when it was established) and 2011.
NSHR said that husbands accounted for most of the abuse at 43 percent, followed by fathers at 30.9 percent, brothers at 11.2 percent, ex-husbands at 7.8 percent and finally sons at 3.7 percent.
Despite the high levels of domestic abuse, neither the Ministry of Justice nor the Ministry of Social Affairs have set laws until now.
On the other hand, King Khalid Foundation’s report on its development of a system to reduce abuse was discussed and recommended by the Shoura Council and subsequently referred to the Council of Ministers, where the system is expected to be approved.
The campaign aims to provide protection to children and women from abuse by implementing a system of measures first, including providing shelters for the abused, receiving complaints, permits for employees working in the field of protection from abuse, research and code of ethics for clinical practices in the field of women and children protection systems.
The report, published in Arabic, indicated that every human being should live a decent life and citizens should know their rights and laws to be able to protect themselves from any harm. Also, the main problem they are trying to focus on is that there are no systems or mechanisms or a specialized governmental body that deals specifically with abuse cases in the Kingdom.
King Khalid Foundation is hoping to implement a system to reduce abuse in order to establish a legislative system of comprehensive protection for women and children from all forms of abuse.