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Saudi - Resolution of domestic abuse cases raises rights concerns  Join our daily free Newsletter

MENAFN - Arab News - 16/12/2013

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(MENAFN - Arab News) The National Human Rights Commission criticized the weak professional response to domestic violence notifications on the phone line 1919, which is affiliated to the Social Protection Committee (SPC), in the Ministry of Social Affairs.
It was reported earlier that the SPC doesn't respond to any calls after 10 o'clock in the evening. Minister of Social Affairs Yousuf Al-Othaimeen had promised to extend the period for taking calls 24 hours a day but this hasn't happened yet.
The commission monitored a number of claims about the arbitrary practices of those in power. It confirmed that some abuse their authority while others followed practices which may weaken the family institution and even destroy it as an entity.
The commission said that some guardians had gone too far in abusing their authority to deprive their dependents of certain legal rights like education and work; preventing women from marrying or marrying off under-aged girls in addition to beating them and other inhumane practices.
The commission said denying divorced women and their children alimony, and sometimes shelter, was among the most reported abuse. The commission also received complaints about guardians not adding their children to the family register, which prevented them from enjoying basic rights, such as education and medical care. The commission criticized certain governmental procedures, like the obligation of obtaining the guardian's consent for women who wish to work, go to university or enroll in higher educational programs, or even have a surgical operation, despite their being responsible adults. The commission pointed to a number of administrational procedures and practices adopted by some government agencies, which led to exacerbating the problem. These included the presence and consent of guardians in a majority of government dealings, which exposed women to abuse and exploitation. It also criticized the need to have the presence of a male guardian to introduce the woman in government departments, even though they are in possession of a national ID, in addition to the number of documents and evidence for women to prove their complaints, such as police reports, medical examinations, and proof of prosecution for an assault and its consequences.
Authorities also ask for other reports from the victims of domestic violence such as sterilization or addiction, in addition to presenting an eyewitness for the assault. The commission called for establishing female departments in government sectors, such as the police and courts, as well as providing special entry points for women. The commission stated that corridors and offices that are crowded with men embarrass and confuse women. The commission criticized the long litigation process, and the late verdicts in personal status cases, which might lead to denial of alimony and visitation for children, not to mention violence and blackmail.
The commission also called for the establishment of a personal status code, because of the variance in rulings from one judge to the next. This code will speed up rulings in urgent cases, like alimony, custody and child visitations.


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