- Title: SAUDI ARABIA: Saudi Arabia launches campaign to combat domestic abuse
- Date: 12th May 2013
- Summary: VARIOUS OF PICTURES OF KING KHALID AND HIS GRANDCHILDREN
- Embargoed: 27th May 2013 13:00
- Location: Saudi Arabia
- Country: Saudi Arabia
- Topics: Crime
- Reuters ID: LVABVPDMK7A4VI61ACJEXH423BD4
- Story Text: Saudi Arabia launched its first campaign to combat domestic violence and encourage more people to speak out against abuse.
The visual campaign features a poster of a woman with a bruised and blackened eye staring out from behind her veil.
Underneath the picture, a slogan reads: "Some things can't be covered - fighting women's abuse together."
The campaign is backed by the King Khaled Foundation, a royal non-profit organisation, and aims to increase awareness of the issue by creating the high-impact poster.
The foundation was established in 2001 by the family of the late King Khaled, who ruled from 1975 until his death in 1982.
Princess Banderi Abdulrahman Al Faisal, director-general of the foundation, said she wanted the country to be more aware of the issue and to advise people what to do if they find themselves in a violent situation.
"Our goal and our hope for this campaign was that we actually increased dialogue on the subject of violence against women and dialogue, of course, leads to action. Our aim is for society to know that violence is unacceptable, what should they do when they face a situation involving violence? How do they deal with it? How do they intervene? What can they do? I think this is the main goal, it is awareness," she said.
Princess Al Faisal, who has been involved in launching several social initiatives in Saudi Arabia, wanted to assure victims of domestic abuse that they had the support of their community and shouldn't feel isolated.
"I would say to battered women that we are with you, your country is with you, your religion is supporting you, you are not alone and the whole of society is behind you," she said.
In January, Saudi's King Abdullah swore in the country's first female members of the Shura Council, which advises the government on new laws.
Abdullah, thought to have been born in 1923, is viewed as having pushed for greater women's education and opportunities to work, sometimes in the face of opposition from powerful conservative clerics.
Female member of the Shura Council, Professor Selwa Al-Hazzaa, said that violence against women and children is still widespread as women are still not seen as equals.
"Violence against women and the family is still prevalent, especially in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states. The main reason for this is discrimination against woman, often the woman is seen as inferior and, as long as this inferiority exists and the media can't talk about it, then the problem will continue," Al-Hazzaa said, who is also a professor of ophthalmology.
Saudi women have been allowed to ride bicycles and motorbikes since April this year, if they wear a full-length veil and are accompanied by a male relative, signalling a shift towards greater freedoms in the conservative Islamic country.
Women are still barred from driving cars in the country and must seek the permission of a male "guardian", usually a father, husband or brother, to marry, travel abroad, open a bank account, work or have some forms of elective surgery.
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