The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will reportedly see its first-ever anti-domestic violence advertisement, which is intended to encourage women to report abuse.
The ad is part of the No More Abuse campaign, begun by the country’s King Khalid Foundation.
According to the No More Abuse site, “The phenomenon of battered women in Saudi Arabia is much greater than is apparent on the surface,” it says. “It is a phenomenon found in the dark. We want to achieve justice for all women and children exposed to abuse in all parts of the Kingdom.”
It’s a watershed moment for the nation, which is known for its gender inequalities. According to Human Rights Watch, women in Saudi Arabia are still treated as minors under the guardianship system, which requires them to receive permission from their husbands, brothers or fathers in order to travel, study or work.
In fact, Saudi authorities use SMS to keep tabs on female citizens and report their whereabouts to their guardians.
Rates of abuse are difficult to determine in the country, because much like the U.S. or other countries, domestic violence often goes unreported.
While Saudi Arabia is currently ranked a discouraging 131st place out of 148 countries in regards to gender equality, some small triumphs have taken place in recent years.
King Abdullah is said to be focused on reform, which so far includes giving women the right to vote and run for office in municipal elections, as well as authorizing the country’s first two female athletes to compete in the recent Olympic Games.
What effect these ads will have on Saudi women is yet to be determined. Even in the U.S. it's difficult for women to report domestic violence and it's difficult for them to acquire adequate protection from it. No matter the culture, there are no quick fixes to ending abuse, but when a woman uses her voice, it can be a first step towards recovery.
Do you think that ads like these really do encourage women to speak up about abuse? Let us know in the Comments.