Women sit at a cafe in a shopping mall in the Saudi capital of Riyadh. Image used for illustrative purposes Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: A fine of up to 50,000 riyals and one-year imprisonment for those who physically and psychologically abuse women in Saudi Arabia, the Public Prosecution warned. 'Anyone found guilty of abusing women physically or emotionally will face a fine of up to 50,000 riyals and a jail sentence to up one year,' the Public Prosecution said in a statement posted on its twitter account.

According to local media, these penalties will make anyone thinks twice before daring to abuse his wife, sister or any female relatives. The move comes as part of ongoing Saudi efforts to eliminate violence against women, and as part of the Kingdom’s reforms that give women more rights and freedoms.

Saudi women are gaining more rights and freedoms since Prince Mohammed Bin Salman took office as Crown Prince in 2017. In line with the Saudi Vision 2030 led by Mohammed Bin Salman, women were granted permissions to work, drive and travel and fully engage in all aspects of life, most notably the relaxing of the guardianship law that allows women to travel without male guardian’s consent.

Saudi Human Rights watchdog calls for stringent measures

Dr. Awwad Al Awwad, president of the Saudi Human Rights Commission (HRC), underlined the need for enhanced cooperation from all competent bodies as well as more stringent measures to eliminate all forms of violence against women.

Al Awwad made the statement to mark on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, which is celebrated worldwide each year on November 25, he said that protecting women’s rights and empowering them is a culmination of the political will and reform measures being pursued by the Saudi leadership.

He urged to report all violations against women to the commission and other concerned authorities. “HRC looks forward to reporting all cases of violence committed against women,” he said. He stressed the need to take more measures to enhance the protection of women’s rights, and raise public awareness about their issues and rights.

“This is essential to create an environment in which women can exercise their rights guaranteed by the Shariah and the law as well as to realize the aspiration of the wise leadership in accordance with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030,” he said. He noted that the Saudi Vision 2030 relies on women as an important and active partner in the process of nation-building and development.

Al Awwad underscored the need for more compliance with law enforcement in the protection of women’s rights, in line with the progress made in national legislation, regulations and relevant international agreements to which the Kingdom has joined, foremost of which is the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

According to this, the parties to the convention have to ensure effective protection of women’s rights through the competent courts and other public institutions in the country. Al Awwad emphasized that the Kingdom under the leadership of King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz, and Crown Prince Muhammed Bin Salman, puts the protection and empowerment of women as one of the Kingdom’s priorities.

“The Kingdom’s Vision 2030 stipulates that women are an important component of our strength, and we will continue to develop their talents and invest their energies and empower them to obtain appropriate opportunities so as to build their future and contribute to the development of our society and our economy.

As a result of this move, women received a major chunk of reforms, especially those related to the areas of human rights,” he said, noting that these included the issuance of many orders, decisions, and regulations that aim to protect, preserve and promote their rights.