Move against domestic violence in Saudi Arabia

There is a move to launch a joint battle against domestic abuse in Saudi Arabia. Representatives of various organisations met to discuss ways of cooperation to improve the services provided to victims of domestic violence.

The meeting was attended by the representatives of Family Protection Organisation (FPO), which runs Jeddah’s first and only women’s shelter, the National Society of Human Rights (NSHR), the government-run Human Rights Commission (HRC) and the Safety Committee at the ministry of social affairs.

According to Samira Al Ghamdi, board member of FPO, the meeting urged the framing of clear guidelines to streamline the work of these organisations. She said this was the first meeting of its kind after FPO took over the responsibility of running the shelter from the ministry of social affairs. She added that the main purpose of the meeting was to frame a general policy in dealing with cases that are transferred to the organisation from other bodies.

The meeting proposed that a committee, comprising representatives of all four bodies, be set up to develop and monitor ways of working jointly because they share the same goals.

“Our work is not restricted to running the shelter, but it also involves creating social awareness and implementing preventive programmes to stop possible abuse,” she said.

Hussein Nasser Al Sharif, director of the NSHR’s Western Province branch, said the rights watchdog would ensure that victims in critical cases are offered a safe place to stay on urgent basis before any paper work begins.

“We informed the Ministry of Social Affairs officials, who used to run the shelter, that we would like to follow up the cases we send to the shelter,” he said. Al Sharif added that the NSHR wants to ensure that women are not merely lodged there but they also receive proper counselling for rehabilitation.

Earlier, Al Sharif said that there would soon be new regulations to protect women and children from domestic violence in Saudi Arabia. “There will be severe punishment for abusers and a new system to rehabilitate victims into society will be introduced,” he said.

“We need to criminalise violence and all kinds of abuse. There is nothing on earth that justifies abuse,” Dr Majid Al Essa, head of the medical section at the National Family Safety Programme (NFSP), said recently.

“It is the foremost responsibility of every individual to help change the mindset that accepts abuse,” she added.

Dr Maha Al Munief, executive director, said NFSP aims to set up a national strategy to minimise the effects of domestic abuse.

http://www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayArticleNew.asp?col=&section=middleeast&xfile=data/middleeast/2008/July/middleeast_July381.xml



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