"some things can’t be covered. fighting women’s abuse together." the first campaign against domestic abuse in the saudi kingdom has been initiated by the king khalid foundation with the help of the adverting agency memac ogilvy - riyadh.
the u.s state department’s most recent human rights report estimates that up to 50 percent of saudi wives suffer some kind of spousal abuse. saudi law does not criminalize domestic violence or spousal rape, and social repercussions can make reporting violence of any kind difficult.
the world economic forum ranks the country 131st out of 135 for its record on women’s rights, citing a total lack of political and economic empowerment. the country has a strong record on women’s health and education, however: on metrics such as enrollment in higher education, saudi arabia actually scores well above the global average.
some of those well-educated women are now leading the fight against domestic violence. one such woman is hayat sindi, who received her doctorate in biotechnology from cambridge in 2001 and was recently named, along with twenty nine other women, to the 150 member consultative body of the king’s shura council. (read more about her incredible story here)
though they still can not drive, and make up only 14% of the country’s workforce (needing the permission of their fathers or husbands), and while talk of domestic violence remains very much taboo, there appears to be at least a little room for optimism for the women of saudi arabia.
as sindi explains, when she went to england to study, her father thought she would bring shame upon the family. but when he died, she found newspaper clippings of her many accomplishments under the pillow of his bed.