Saudi Arabia recently passed its first law against domestic abuse, just months after launching its first campaign against domestic violence. The campaign, launched under the sponsorship of the King Khalid Foundation, features a photograph of a woman wearing Niqab with a bruised eye and the caption ‘Not everything can be covered’ in Arabic. While the campaign made international headlines, we were interested to see how it was received in Saudi Arabia. In a study commissioned by Al Aan TV, 1003 online respondents in Saudi Arabia were surveyed using YouGov’s online panel.
The need for such a campaign is clear, with 74 percent of online respondents in Saudi Arabia agreeing domestic violence is widespread in society and 31 percent saying domestic violence is part of their culture. While 67 percent say it is never justifiable for a husband to hit his wife, 21 percent say it is acceptable for a man to hit his wife as long as it does not leave a mark.
The campaign encourages women to speak up if they fall victim to abuse, as traditionally domestic violence is not often spoken about in Saudi Arabia. Similarly, half of online respondents agree family problems should not be spoken about outside the home. That being the case, it is not surprising that 6 in 10 online respondents agree women who speak out against domestic violence face social stigma.
However, the majority (90 percent) of online respondents think the campaign will successfully encourage women facing domestic abuse to seek help. Unfortunately, 43 percent of respondents agree most women who are likely to be victims of domestic violence are unlikely to see the advert without the permission of their husband. Among online respondents who do not think the campaign will be successful, 53 percent say its failure is owed to the restriction of women’s movement, which will prevent them easy access to shelters and helplines.
Regardless, 81 percent of respondents agree women subjected to domestic abuse need more legal protection. Online respondents also highlighted their concern that more than governmental initiatives are required to tackle the issue of domestic violence in Saudi, with 76 percent agreeing support form civil society groups is essential in creating positive change.
The survey was commissioned by Al Aan and conducted by YouGov using the YouGov online panel. Data was collected from June 10th- July 10th 2013 among 1003 online respondents living in Saudi Arabia. The results are largely representative of the online population of Saudi Arabia.