In 2016, Saudi Arabia established a 24-hour helpline to report domestic violence and abuse against women and children. The hotline operates under the Ministry of Social Affairs and run by all-female Saudi staff. The complainant can report incidents of sexual, psychological, or physical harassment or a threat of exploitation or violence within the household. The helpline requires callers to reveal their identity and however, it ensures the confidentiality of the informant. There are 24 Social Protection Units working in various parts of the kingdom with the cooperation of nine charitable organizations. These organizations work in assisting the victim without requiring the guardians’ permission.
In light of growing domestic abuse, the government has increasingly paid attention to make women and child protection laws and doing public persecution of abusers to curb domestic abuse. However, apart from government efforts, tackling domestic violence requires vigilant involvement of the society. Every member of the society bears a moral responsibility in eradicating domestic violence and standing in support of the victim. Here is how you can help prevent domestic abuse:
Recognize the early signs of Domestic Abuse:
Knowing the early indicators of domestic abuse is first to help prevent it. It may be possible that your co-worker, sister, neighbor, family member, or any other person you know might be a victim of violence but scared to talk about it. While early signs may vary from case to case. Generally, a victim may exhibit strange behaviors in social situations, start missing school or office, may look isolated or get anxious in the company of friends or family or act fearful in the presence of her life partner. A victim of physical may have unexplained bruises. These are enough warnings to recognize, inquire, and intervene to support the victim in the best possible way.
Report Domestic Violence: If you are a witness to a domestic abuse happening anywhere in your surroundings, do not ignore it. Instead, report it to the relevant authorities with complete details. The 1919 hotline guarantees the anonymity of the informant.
Lend an Ear: If a victim of domestic abuse reaches out to share their experience of domestic violence, believe what they are sharing without passing judgments and find ways to help them.
Become a hotline yourself:
If you suspect that someone you know is suffering from domestic violence, offer them a standby option in case of emergency. Ensure that you have exchanged your primary contact number with the suspected victim to stay in contact. Keep checking on them regularly and encourage them to contact you if they are subjected to any violence. It would help if you also thought of an emergency intervention plan such as personal intervention, calling a friend or a family member, or directly reporting it to the police.
Raise Awareness about Domestic Abuse:
In a male-dominated society like Saudi Arabia, it is essential to engage in productive conversations regarding family violence consistently. Talk about the issues of men’s violence against women in households. Use your voice against the systematic problems that foster domestic violence. For instance, the financial dependency of women on her spouse may force her to stay in an abusive relationship. Discourage the use of derogatory or sexist comments that belittles women. It is also essential to talk about o domestic violence with as many people as possible, including the woman of your family. Aware them about their rights and resources that can help prevent them from being victims of domestic abuse. Word of mouth will go far in raising awareness about domestic abuse. The cases of domestic violence will not stop solely by implementing strict laws or establishing a helpline. It requires a comprehensive, collective, and multi-sectoral approach that addresses community attitudes towards gender roles, sexual respect, and domestic abuse and where individuals understand the responsibility to stand in support of victims and to end the prevailing socio-cultural support for violence and abuse.
Written by Tayyab Asharafat
A dedicated Khadoum volunteer
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