Saudi Arabia abuse ban: Saudi Arabia is making history this week, passing an anti-abuse law designed to combat centuries old abuse and maltreatment of women in the Middle East. Domestic and workplace violence and sexual assaults are now outlawed, reports The Huffington Post on Aug. 29.
The legislation, passed by Saudi’s cabinet earlier this week, makes domestic violence a punishable crime. Violators will face penalties of up to one-year of incarceration and fines up to $13,000.
Victims of abuse will also be able to seek treatment and shelter from their abusers; law enforcement agencies are mandated to provide oversight and protection to women who are the victims of abuse, either in the workplace or at home.
“All civilian or military employees and all workers in the private sector who learn of a case of abuse… shall report the case to their employers when they know it,” cabinet members stated. “The employers shall report the case to the Ministry of Social Affairs or police when they know it.”
A powerful image representative of the new legislation is that of a Saudi woman wearing a black hijab with her eyes visible through slits in the veil. One of her eyes has been blackened with a bruise.
The Arabic phrase underneath the poster reads:
“Some things can’t be covered. Fighting women’s abuse together.”
Domestic abuse against women in Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries has largely been seen as an in-house affair, and women in the Arab state still are seen as vastly inferior to their male counterparts.
According to the Wikipedia entry "Women's rights in Saudi Arabia," women, regardless of age, are required to have a male guardian at all times and cannot vote or be elected to high political positions. Saudi Arabia is also the only country in the world that prohibits women from driving.
Awareness is only the first step. Implementation of the new legislation will certainly prove to be the biggest challenge.