Saudi Arabia's first ever anti-domestic violence ad revealed

Saudi Arabia has just launched the No More Abuse campaign.Photo / King Khalid Foundation
Saudi Arabia has just launched the No More Abuse campaign.Photo / King Khalid Foundation

This arresting image of a Saudi woman, her bruised eye visible through her burqa, is the first ever anti-domestic violence advert in the oppressive kingdom.

In what could be a sign of long-awaited progress for the female population of Saudi Arabia - where all women must have a male guardian - the No More Abuse campaign is intended to encourage victims to report domestic violence.

The advert shows the female victim, who is clad in a burqa that masks all but her eyes, gazing into the camera above the message: "Some things can't be covered."
Beneath the caption are the words: "Fighting women's abuse together".

Women in the conservative Islamic kingdom are prohibited from voting and from driving, and are kept largely segregated from men in public places.

The advert is the work of the King Khalid Foundation, a charity established by the family of the late monarch, who ruled from 1975 until his death in 1982.

A translation of a statement on the foundation's website reads: "The phenomenon of battered women in Saudi Arabia is much greater than is apparent on the surface... is a phenomenon found in the dark."

It described a "comprehensive system to deal with violence and abuse of family in order to provide legal protection for women and children from abuse in Saudi Arabia."

Domestic violence is believed to be endemic in parts of Saudi Arabia, where women - regardless of age - live under the control of a male relative who acts as their guardian.

They require the permission of their guardian for everything from opening a bank account to accepting a marriage proposal.

The patriarchal system means many instances of abuse go unreported.

Earlier this month a report in a Saudi newspaper said the kingdom's religious police had lifted a ban preventing women from riding bikes and motorcycles in public places.

It said women would be allowed to ride bicycles and motorbikes in parks and recreational areas, provided they were accompanied by a male relative and dressed in the full Islamic head-to-toe abaya.

Saudi Arabia's strict interpretation of Islam means women must cover their entire body with a black cloak known as an abaya and headcovering, or hijab, leaving just the eyes and the hands exposed.

Conventions for dress and behaviour are all fiercely enforced by the notorious religious police, or mutaween, whose official title is the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice.

In 2009, the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap report ranked Saudi Arabia 130th out of 134 countries for gender parity.

- DAILY MAIL

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