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HRC starts yearlong campaign on child rights
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 30 - 01 - 2013


Fatima Muhammad
Saudi Gazette
JEDDAH — Between 30 and 40 victims of domestic abuse approach the Ministry of Social Affairs in Jeddah for help each month, according to a ministry official here.
Speaking to Saudi Gazette at the launch of a child rights campaign that kicked off in Jeddah on Tuesday, Manal Al-Guraibi, a social researcher at the Himaya Department at the ministry, said these cases mostly include children, teenagers and married women.
She said social workers study each case and report any abuse marks discovered on the body of the victim. They also collect medical reports and then contact the perpetrator, a job that Al-Guraibi described as “tough and challenging.”
According to her, backup from the local police is not forthcoming always even though such cooperation is crucial in helping the abuse victims.
Al-Guraibi said there is a marked increase in the number of abuse cases compared to the past, possibly because the victims are “more willing to speak about their abuse” than before.
The hot line 1919 provides the victims easy access to officials with whom they can talk about their problems freely.
In addition to complaints on the hot line, the Himaya Department receives cases from hospitals, schools, the police and the governorate.
The campaign with the theme “Our Children, Our Responsibility, Let's Protect Them!” is organized by the Human Rights Commission (HRC) with the cooperation of the Social Affairs Ministry.
Jawahir Al-Nahari, head of the women's section at the HRC, said the commission gives special attention to the rights of children and has decided to hold the yearlong campaign to raise public awareness on the issue.
According to Al-Nahari, lectures and special programs will be held at schools, universities, hospitals and district centers to address all pertinent issues.
She said HRC teams will conduct field tours and gather reports after visiting juvenile shelters, orphanages, girls protection societies, anti-beggary shelters, rehabilitation centers and centers for disabled children. At the end of the year, a final report with recommendations to address the issues and challenges of securing child rights will be submitted to the provincial governor.
Nisreen Abu Taha, a social awareness official at Himaya, in her lecture talked about the effects of abuse on children's behavior.
Children, she said, should be directed to right behavior and should be warned if they stray into bad habits. She said corporal punishments should be restricted to major offenses, such as stealing.
A child should be given physical punishments as a last resort and under specific conditions after all other means of disciplining the child are exhausted, she said.
Abu Taha said she has submitted a proposal to launch a new television channel that can help raise awareness among the public regarding child abuse and domestic violence.


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