The Weekly Standard Blog September 19, 2013
Against the expectation of many observers, social change continues in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Recent reforms have particularly affected the status of women. At the end of August, the Saudis took a remarkable and surprising step by criminalizing domestic violence. As reported in the London Independent, the Saudi cabinet “passed a ban on domestic violence and other forms of abuse against women for the first time in the Kingdom’s history.”
The prohibition defines domestic violence as a punishable offense and is applicable in home and employment relationships. It outlaws exploitation on the basis of gender, and psychological mistreatment or the threat of it. The new Saudi law establishes programs for treatment and shelter of abuse victims. It holds official law enforcement responsible for the investigation and prosecution of such complaints. Guilty verdicts may produce a penalty of up to a year in prison and fines as large as $13,000.