Domestic violence cases on the rise in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia’s Justice Ministry said its courts received 1,498 domestic violence cases during the past Islamic calender year

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Saudi Arabia’s Makkah region recorded the largest number of domestic violence cases (nearly 500) during year. Psychologist Dr. Ali Al-Zayeri attributed the increase to growing tension, depression, unrest and lack of self-confidence among men.

“The Makkah society is a mix of different nationalities as people from different countries settle in the region because of the presence of the Grand Mosque, Haj and Umrah and we can see acts of violence on the increase here because of different cultures,” he told Al-Watan Arabic daily.

Saudi Arabia’s Justice Ministry said its courts received 1,498 domestic violence cases during the past Islamic calender year with Makkah region registering 480 cases including torture of wives and children and abuse of one of the parents. There were 15 cases in which brothers were found to be guilty of torturing their sisters.

The Arabic daily explained the major cases as husbands and brothers beating their wives and sisters, humiliating them, locking them inside rooms, usurping their legitimate rights, taking away salaries of wives and sisters and a neglect of children and wives.

The social care centers in the region reported two girls being tortured and abandoned by their families. There were two other cases involving torture of children, the paper said.

Riyadh region was placed second with 333 domestic violence cases followed by Jazan 140, the Eastern Province 116, Asir 110, Madinah 99, Qassim 43, Tabuk 41, Al-Jouf 32, Northern Borders Region 17 and Najran 12.

The ministry said cases of domestic violence brought to criminal and civil courts in Makkah region included those related to rape, torture and denial of rights.

Saleh Al-Sarhan, director of the Makkah chapter of National Society for Human Rights, attributed the increase in domestic violence to non-implementation of the law that gives family members protection against torture and physical, mental and sexual abuse.

“The law envisages stiff punishment against those who commit violence against their wives, parents and children,” he told the Arabic daily.

Another reason for increasing domestic violence is the negligence of government agencies that are assigned to combat domestic violence in holding awareness programs targeting families, and students at schools and universities, Al-Sarhan said.

“Many violence cases involving young girls are settled amicably without any action against the culprits,” he said while stressing the implementation of the law for protection against torture and protection of children from violence.

Khaled Al-Shahrani, lawyer and legal consultant, said judges must make sure proper investigations have been carried out on domestic violence cases.

“A judge will apply the anti-domestic violence law based on evidences,” he said. Al-Shahrani agreed that awareness programs would contribute to reducing family violence cases.

“We have to enlighten the society on the negative impact of violence on family members,” he said. The punishment prescribed in the present law, he said, is enough to prevent people from committing crimes such as torture, rape and denial of rights.

This article first appeared in the Saudi Gazette on March 2, 2016.

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