30 Aug 2013

Domestic violence to be a crime in Saudi Arabia

6:35 am on 30 August 2013

Saudi Arabia has adopted a law criminalising domestic violence.

According to its text, the law, which was approved by the cabinet on Monday, is aimed at protecting people from "all forms of abuse" and offering them shelter as well as "social, psychological, and medical aid".

Offenders face penalties of one month to one year in prison and/or a fine of 5000 - 50,000 riyal.

The measures - which are unprecedented in the kingdom - concern "any sort of physical or psychological violence," said the social affairs ministry's website.

''Women are the main victims of domestic violence with "98 per cent of physical violence committed by men against women," it said.

The ministry promised that law enforcement mechanisms would be published by the end of this year.

"The law represents a turning point in the field of human rights protection in the kingdom and mainly offers protection to women," said Mufleh Qahtani of the National Society for Human Rights in the kingdom.