Sunday, September 1, 2013
Saudi Arabia's cabinet on Monday passed a new law that would criminalize different forms of abuse at home and in workplace. Offenders may be imprisoned [Saudi Gazettereport] for a term ranging from one month to a year or fines between 5,000 and 50,000 Saudi riyals (USD $1,300 to $13,333). For repeat offenders, penalties may be doubled. The new law also requires third parties knowledgeable about any violations to report to authorities. In addition to criminal sanctions, the law will also provide psychological, social and health care assistance to the victims. Domestic violence has been considered a private matter in Saudi Arabia [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. While human rights activists praised the recent move, some are concerned about the issue of enforcement. Women in Saudi Arabia are still subject to male guardians who may be the offenders. Thus, without the reporting of male guardians, women might not be able to benefit from the new law. Moreover, law enforcement and courts have to be trained to implement and enforce the law successfully.