According to the Saudi Ministry of Labor and Social Development, 11,000 cases of abuse of women and children were reported in the kingdom in 2016. The abuse ranges from physical and psychological abuse to harm resulting to murder.
The high number of abuse cases has led to the Protection against Abuse law which seeks to halt all forms of abuse in the kingdom. The law aims to provide significant protection against harm for the society, and anyone who tries to go against the law will face the consequences.
The comprehensive law goes beyond physical abuse as it seeks to halt psychological and sexual abuse and exploitation in all its manifestations. The law also defines the act of giving every single person in a family his full rights, including the right to education, good health, identification and more.
The law also recognizes that psychological abuse and bullying can lead to many unexpected situations, like mental issues or depression.
The law is said to have put the onus of responsibility for the prevention of abuse on the whole society, as it rightly regards society as having the moral responsibility towards victims of abuse.
As such the law requires all entities, private or public and individuals to report any cases of abuse that comes to their knowledge; giving special attention to how extremely important the role of society is in averting abuse.
The Ministry of Labor and Social Development is said to be developing new reporting mechanisms for cases of violence and abuse. It has already set up a free 24 hour helpline where cases may be reported.
According to the new Protection against Abuse law, anyone found abusing people will be imprisoned for a year, with a fine of SR50, 000 ($13,336).
The law also entrenches the need to raise awareness of abuse within the public and to educate everyone about their rights and responsibilities under the law. To establish the proper knowledge of everyone’s rights and obligations, some parts of the law will be taught in schools to help spread the message.