Saudi Arabia: Activists want domestic abusers named, shamed

By JEDDAH: BADR AL-QAHTANI ARAB NEWS

Prominent women campaigners and human rights activists called for harsh punishments, including naming and shaming, for those convicted of domestic abuse following the issuance of a draft law aimed at the protection of domestic abuse victims by the Shoura Council on Sunday.

“One year prison time and a fine are not enough (to punish an abuser),” said Suhaila Zain Al-Abideen, a Saudi activist for children and women’s rights and a member of the National Society of Human’s Rights’ executive board. “An abuser must be publicly named so he or she will not do it again,” she added.

Mona Siraj, managing editor of Jeddah-based Sayidaty magazine and a social activist, said she supports publicly naming abusers, in addition to obliging them to seek professional help, such as attending counseling sessions.

In addition to providing protection and prevention against abuse, the Shoura Council’s “Protection Against Domestic Abuse” draft bill is aimed at providing assistance, social, psychological, medical treatment and shelter to victims and punish abusers.

Sanctions in the act include an jail sentence of between one month and a year, a fine of between SR 5,000 and SR 50,000, or both. The act also gives the court the authority to issue alternative punishments.

The council’s Assistant Secretary-General Khaled bin Mousa Al-Dhubaiban said the council approved unanimously the 17-article draft act that defines procedures to be followed when receiving a report on an abuse case.

The word “abuse” in the draft of the Abuse Protection Act is defined as “any form of physical, sexual, and psychological practice or threat against a person by someone who is responsible for or has a guardianship over the person he/she abuses,” he said.

Abuse includes failing to fulfill the duties (obligations) of providing the basic needs for the victim. The act also obliges those who witness or know about abuse cases to report them, he added.

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