Family Matters International LifeStyle Opinion

Saudi Arabia cracks down on abuse against women with prison term, up to $13,332 fine

Al Arabiya English 25 November 2020

A Saudi organizer at the Future Investment Initiative conference, FII, smiles as she welcomes participants, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Oct. 29, 2019.

Saudi Arabia announced new penalties for abuse against women on Wednesday that include imprisonment and hefty fines for any physical, psychological, or sexual assaults against women in the Kingdom.

The Saudi Public Prosecution Office has mandated a minimum jail sentence of no less than one month, and up to one year, for the act of attacking a woman.

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In addition, there will also be a minimum fine of 5,000 Saudi riyals – $1,333 US dollars – and a maximum fine of 50,000 Saudi riyals, or $13,332 US dollars.

The news coincided with the observance of the UN’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, commemorated every year on November 25.A Saudi woman, Fayrouz Al-Omari, works out at a gym, amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia September 24, 2020. (Reuters)

A Saudi woman, Fayrouz Al-Omari, works out at a gym, amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia September 24, 2020. (Reuters)

Women’s rights in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has made significant legal reforms for women over the past few years, including granting women the right to drive and the ability to apply for passports and travel freely without the permission of a male guardian.

Read more: Saudi Arabia put women’s empowerment at the ‘core of its agenda,’ says G20 chair

Saudi Arabian women have also greatly benefitted from economic legal reforms in the past three years, according to a World Bank report released in January, which concluded the Kingdom’s economy made the biggest progress globally toward gender equality since 2017.Saudi women apply for a job during Glowork Career Fair 2017 for Saudi women employments held at a hotel in the Saudi capital Riyadh, on September 28, 2017. (AFP)

Saudi women apply for a job during Glowork Career Fair 2017 for Saudi women employments held at a hotel in the Saudi capital Riyadh, on September 28, 2017. (AFP)

Amendments have been adopted in Saudi Arabia to protect women from discrimination in employment, to prohibit employers from dismissing a woman during her pregnancy and maternity leave, and to prohibit gender-based discrimination in accessing financial services.

Read more: Top 10 moments for Saudi Arabian women since Vision 2030

Saudi Arabia had a year of “groundbreaking” reforms in 2019 that allowed women greater economic opportunity in Saudi Arabia, the World Bank’s “Women, Business and the Law 2020” study found.

The Kingdom “equalized the retirement age for women and men at 60 years, extending women’s working lives, earnings, and contributions,” the report said.

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