Luma, who was allegedly raped and tortured to death by her father Fayhan Al Gamdi. Image Credit: COURTESY:Al Watan

Manama: As more cases reached the Saudi authorities about the abuse of children by their parents, several government services were launched to offer help.

The Saudi social affairs ministry set up a special directorate that will oversee 17 social protection committees throughout the country.

The ministry also set up a centre with hotline services that operated for around 16 hours a day.

In the health sector, 39 centres were established to provide care for children and more than 20 groups and agencies partnered to set up a hotline to support children.

However, more needs to be done to help tackle the ominous figures that have come to haunt activists concerned about the tragedies unfolding behind high walls and closed doors.

In November, Sana Sameer Al Huwaili, a psychology expert, said that around 45 per cent of children in Saudi Arabia faced physical or verbal abuse at home or at school.

“The figures are going up instead of coming down,” she said. “There is obviously a critical need to address cases of ill-treatment and neglect of children. Parents do need to modify their behaviour and attitudes and do need to learn the proper way to deal with their children regardless of their behaviour,” she said at a lecture reported in the local media.