Jeddah, Asharq Al-Awsat – The conference hall at King Abdulaziz hospital in this eastern port city was crowded with experts and official representatives concerned with the issue of “domestic and social violence” in the Kingdom last Monday.
Besides discussing the problem of sexual violence, participants also discussed how to develop mechanisms to deal with violence and the methods that need to be applied in order to reduce its prevalence in Saudi Arabia.
Lieutenant Khaled Baklaka, executive director for medical affairs for the Saudi National Guard told the audience that domestic violence was an important issue that needed to be confronted.
“It is a heinous practice. In some cases, it can be attributed to a lack of knowledge of Islamic teachings. We read and hear about so many accidents caused by domestic violence and we forget that our religion is a religion of mercy, compassion and tolerance. We can put an end to this type of violence by following the true foundations of Islam.”
He added, “I wish social workers would recognize the important role they play in helping patients until they recuperate psychologically.”
For his part, Abdulaziz al Harazi, director for patient relations and social services at the hospital, indicated the conference hoped to increase communication amongst those employed in the sector, Ihsan Tayeb, who heads the ministry of social affairs branch in Mecca, said any individual could be subjected to violence which “can take many forms such as physical abuse, murder, rape or psychological abuse such as coercion.”
Drawing on recent statistics, Iyed al Malaki, the director of criminal studies at the general security in Jeddah, said, “In the last few years, the rates of violence have increased, especially from young fathers. In 2003, a total of 3861 cases of psychological abuse were reported, a rise of 260 from the previous years. 425 cases of family disagreements were reported in 2003, compared to only 115 the year before. The rise in the number of cases is likely to be due to parents being preoccupied with work and financial issues instead of how best to bring up their children.”