Jeddah, Asharq Al-Awsat- Recent statistics published by Dar Himaya in Mecca, Saudi Arabia indicated that it received 134 cases of domestic violence between October, 2005, when the institution was established and the beginning of September 2006. The majority of these cases involve women over 26-years-old.
A recent scientific paper presented by Dar Himaya last month regarding the widespread phenomenon of domestic violence in Saudi Arabia, attributed the major social problem to rapid changes in lifestyle, methods of upbringing inherited from previous generations, conceptions and traditions, in addition to deviant behavior, psychological and mental illnesses, and drug abuse.
There were 47 cases involving children between one-month old and fifteen-years-old and 35 cases involving girls aged 16 to 25 years-old. Only three cases involved males aged from the same age group.
The women’s social supervision office in Mecca has recorded 46 cases of domestic abuse, the highest numbers of referrals of female victims of abuse to Dar Himaya, followed by the association of investigation and public prosecution that transferred 14 cases, the human rights organization that referred 10 cases, police stations that handed over 8 cases, as well as individual cases represented by the rehabilitation center and the charity association, totaling 134 cases received by Dar Himaya.
Dar Himaya allows the victims of domestic violence to stay for a maximum of 120 days, except in extreme cases in which case a request is necessary from the relevant authority. It operates on a number of levels to offer a safe environment for victims of abuse until their cases have been resolved. It offers temporary residence according to the specific needs of each case, guidance and advice, medical treatment, the assistance of related government and nongovernmental authorities to find solutions to their problems, and the continuous support and monitoring throughout their stay at Dar Himaya. Furthermore, it offers advice on housing and legal rights and obligations, and assistance so that women can continue their jobs and children can continue their educations at their own schools or alternative schools.
Two years ago, the Saudi Ministry of Social Affairs approved the forming of ‘the General Department for Social Protection’ that aims to “take precautionary measures and protect members of society who are subjected to abuse to ensure security for the victims and protect their interests”. Victims of abuse however have stated that “there are difficulties regarding the standards of procedures and ensuring protection as a result of inefficient mechanisms and the lack of qualified people employed in these programs.”