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HRC targets homes, schools to reinforce children's rights
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 08 - 10 - 2012

Fatima Muhammad
Saudi Gazette
JEDDAH — The Human Rights Commission (HRC) in Makkah region will start a campaign against child abuse in the Kingdom soon.
The campaign will target homes and schools, said Ebrahim Al-Nehayani from HRC's Makkah region branch.
Al-Nehayani was speaking on the sideline of a two-day seminar on children's' rights at Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry Saturday.
He said through this campaign the HRC, the official human rights watchdog in the country, hopes to help children overcome the fear of talking about any abuse they suffer. Different government bodies, including the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Social Affairs, police and religious bodies, that provide services to children were invited, said Al-Nehayani.
A speaker at the seminar told Saudi Gazette that they have already asked imams to discuss social issues and child rights in Friday sermons.
Asked about how they can evaluate the effect of sermons on the behavior of the public, he said, “We do not have a measuring unit, but we can tell that these sermons are effective as so many people listen to them.”
According to the speaker, two thirds of all abuse cases that the courts receive are committed by individuals who use drugs. Another factor is a lack of religious affiliation, he added.
The participants of the seminar were also discussing the age and definition of childhood. Adnan Wazan, a researcher who won King Faisal Prize for Islamic Research and who authored a book on children's rights, said a number of countries have set the end of childhood at the age of 18 when the person could work and be responsible of his/her actions.
In the Kingdom, children detained for delinquencies or crimes, are not sent to prisons. Minors caught in drug smuggling are transferred to general prisons only after they reach the age of 20. Before that, children are sent to correction centers.
The Saudi law has not yet specified a minimum age for marriage.
As with employment, children below 13 are not allowed to work and those above 13 are not allowed to be hired for hazardous jobs.
The HRC announced last July that domestic violence cases have increased by 45 percent. This percentage is alarming and demands cooperation with the Shoura Council.
The general supervisor of the Family Security Center, Maha Moneef, said that in 2011 the number of reported cases of domestic violence was 500, much higher than what had been documented in 2010, which did not exceed 292 cases.
The seminar also discussed the media and children rights.
According to Saud Katib, professor at King Abdulaziz University, media organizations should not be allowed to interview children unless accompanied by guardians.
Katib asked media organizations not to publish children's photos that can affect their personality and social image at a later stage in life.
He said social media plays an important role in following up child abuse cases and demanding action against perpetrators. Katib stressed the need to train journalists to be able to report about child abuse cases and address children's rights.
Social organizations should also be given the chance to address the issue and obstacles before them in getting involved in finding solutions to abuse cases should be removed, said Katib.

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