The King Khalid Foundation hired Ogilvy to create this ad to raise awareness and action against “the phenomenon of battered women in Saudi Arabia”. The campaign page encourages citizen reporting.
Can it even hope to make a difference?
According to Jeddah-based psychologist and founding member of the Society for Protecting the Family, Samira Al-Ghamdi, the main problem lies in a social system that accepts the right of the male to govern unconditionally. She says that as long as there is confusion on the concepts of the rights and responsibilities of the head of family, things will remain the same and abuse cases will go largely unpunished and very often even undetected and unknown by the community at large.
Al-Ghamdi explains that Saudi society has a mixed set of beliefs that combines traditional laws and Islamic laws and that the whole is seen as Islamic law. As more abuse cases come to light, we have begun seeing some punishments — varying from jail sentences to executions. What is surprising is that the punishments do not seem to deter people from committing the same crimes. As Al-Ghamdi points out, the problem lies in the way society thinks. “Society clings to its ways and people refuse to change,” she says. “Too many people view the efforts to stop abuse of women and children as defiance of social rules that have been established for centuries.”
In such a situation, until society changes its ideas, we are bound to see more and more cases of abuse. We hope that we do not have to wait long before action is taken, not only to punish the abusers but also to understand what causes abuse and how it can be controlled and eliminated.
The KKF calls domestic violence “is a phenomenon found in the dark”, so perhapos any light shed on the problem is an improvement.