Saudi Arabia’s Council of Ministers outlawed domestic abuse in the home and workplace Monday, categorizing it as a punishable crime for the first time in the country’s history.
In addition to banning domestic violence, the law will also provide shelter for victims of abuse and protect the identities of those who report it.
Those who are found guilty of psychological or physical abuse could face up to $13,300 in fines and one year in prison.
This law protects “women, children, domestic workers and non-domestic workers," Khaled al-Fakher, secretary general of the government-funded National Society for Human Rights, said.
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The country’s first anti-abuse campaign also launched this year, featuring a woman wearing a Niqab veil with one black eye, urging Saudi’s to report cases of violence.
“Some things can’t be covered,” the poster reads.
While the passage of the law is one step toward justice, activists fear it will not be enforced.
Anti-violence group Equality Now spokesperson Suad Abu-Dayyeh recommended training programs for law enforcement officials, and suggested that women should be free of a male guardian, which is currently still a requirement.
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"Saudi women won’t make any progress until the government ends the abuses that stem from these misguided policies,” Farida Deif, an HRW women’s rights researcher, said