28 Oct 2010

Don’t use religion to justify abuse!

ARAB NEWS - Saudi Arabia May18, 2009

by Nuha Adlan | Arab News

RIYADH: A lack of awareness, misunderstandings about the meaning of guardianship and the absence of definitions for terms such as abuse, violence and violations in the domestic setting are the major problems that need to be solved to fight domestic violence, said Dr. Maha Al-Munief from the National Family Safety Program at the second experts meeting on abuse against women and children on Saturday.

“We are still calling for a fatwa in this regard,” said Al-Munief.

The meeting, which was attended by Princess Adela bint Abdullah and addressed by Minister of Justice Dr. Mohammed Al-Eissa, identified five major obstacles facing all governmental and nongovernmental efforts to fight domestic violence.

Experts tried to identify hindrances in the way of efforts to fight domestic violence.

The major obstacles of fighting violence centered on what was believed to be “a crucial defect of the society” as there is no clear definition of domestic abuse due to the major misunderstanding of some religious teachings regarding discipline and guardianship to both women and children.

Abdul Aziz Al-Dakhil, attorney and one of the experts, said that it is a tragedy that many mistreat their family members under the name of Islam, guardianship and discipline. “As a father I need to know when my disciplining behavior is violent and abusive,” Al-Dakhil said.

The second problem focused on a lack of awareness of abuse. “Many wives, daughters and sisters suffer abuse without knowing their rights, and without even knowing that they can report incidents and be protected,” Al-Dakhil said.

Al-Dakhil said the third obstacle facing family safety programs is the lack of studies and databases that provide a realistic picture of the situation. “If we are informed that there are 10 cases of abuse, there are for sure 1,000 more suffering in silence and not spoken about,” said Al-Dakhil. “Absence of a holistic system to control the procedures of dealing with victims, which include the flow of action from reporting abuse, intervention, help and rehabilitation, is the fourth obstacle we face,” Al-Munief said. “Absence of coordinating organizations that set all of the efforts of all volunteer groups and the national program is the fifth obstacle,” she added.

Princess Adela, however, believes greatly in the role of women. She believes that women’s presence in courts as consultants in these matters as well as mediators to resolve conflict between couples would prove to be significant.

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