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HRC to spread awareness against domestic violence
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 18 - 02 - 2013

Haifa Al-Zahrani
Saudi Gazette
JEDDAH — The Human Rights Commission (HRC) has said family violence, especially against children and women in the Kingdom, is steadily rising.
It said though it is not the concerned body for dealing with such cases, it has so far registered more than 300 incidents of domestic violence in the Kingdom in a single year.
Mohammed Al-Maadi, spokesman for the HRC, told Saudi Gazette that family violence can take various forms including physical and verbal abuse, stopping victims from learning or working and adhl (prevention from marriage).
He explained the commission deals with issues of family violence in a number of ways including monitoring cases; transferring them to the concerned departments; observing if there are cases of violence in social protection homes, prisons, hospitals and other facilities; spreading awareness against family violence through lectures and workshops in schools, universities and other establishments as part of its programs to spread a culture of human rights; participating in national debates and other activities related to violence; and providing humanitarian and legal support to victims.
The spokesman revealed that the commission would this year organize a major workshop on family violence. He said addiction to alcohol and drugs and psychological disturbances were the main causes of family violence.
Al-Maadi said a serious difficulty facing women victims of violence is the ignorance of their God-given rights guaranteed by Islam.
He said women are usually silent if they are subjected to domestic violence because they do not want to mar their reputation or that of their families; they are scared of the reactions of their male guardians; frightened of being beaten up; fear divorce would break up the family and affect the children; and fear they will be accused of making false allegations.
"For these reasons many victims are not willing to go to court.
“Many women victims are skeptical of the legal procedures, hesitant to go to courts because they may not be able to provide solid evidence to prove their claims and are afraid of the lengthy litigation that may continue for a long time."
Al-Maadi accused the authorities that receive victims of domestic violence of getting tied down by bureaucracy and red tape and said they often ask for evidence that may not be easily obtainable.
"These departments ask the women to present police reports, medical tests and eyewitnesses that is not possible as the violence takes place behind closed doors."
He said women victims also fear the power and influence of their guardians might influence court rulings.
He said the victims also face difficulties in reaching the courts because their husbands are not willing to take them there and they themselves will not be willing to use public transport.
"The courts take a long time to rule on cases of alimony and child custody.
“The judges will ask for the family book which is always with the male guardian.
“Many women may not be able to afford the legal fees.”
Al-Maadi said the departments that handle family violence cases include the family protection committee, which can be reached on the toll free number 1919, the family safety program whose toll free number is 116111, the police, the regions' governorates, departments of guidance at the Ministry of Education, hospitals and health centers and the HRC and the National Society for Human Rights (NSHR).
He called for setting up special locations to receive victims of domestic violence and said some rules and regulations concerning this issue should be amended.
He also called for spreading awareness among society against domestic violence, which is against Islamic law and international norms and conventions.
Meanwhile, assistant director of the Maternity and Children Hospital in Jeddah Dr. Intisar Ashour said there were 370 cases of family violence last year in Jeddah alone.

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