Results of research conducted by the National Family Safety Program. 13% has suffered sexual violence, 53% are victims of neglect. Among child victims of abuse cases of depression and drug abuse are growing. Saudi expert: we need targeted programs, aid and specialized centers.
Riyadh (AsiaNews / Agencies) - 80% of children in Saudi Arabia have been the subject of violence at least once or various kinds of abuse. This has been revealed by a study prepared and published recently by the National Family Safety Program, which has examined cases involving at least 18 thousand children and young people.
The study confirms that the phenomenon of large-scale child abuse is taking place in the country where strict Wahhabi morals and Sharia (Islamic law) prevails, punishing offenses (including adultery and apostasy) with the death penalty.
The study, published by the Saudi daily Arab News, showed that 13% of young people have suffered sexual violence, 53% neglect by the family, and 80% subject to physical or psychological abuse. The study also shows that there is little knowledge on the subject of domestic violence, with only 2% of the 5,700 social workers having received special training to work with abusers and victims.
Maha Al-Munief, executive chairman of the program, points out that abuse in childhood lead to various types of physical and psychological problems, which over time become chronic.
Speaking at a debate organized by the Fund for the development of women in Dammam and entitled "Domestic Violence — From Silence to Legislation” said that 3% of children raised in healthy families start to consume drugs. This figure rose to 17% for children affected by violence. Depression affects 55 of "normal children", compared with 21% among those victims of violence.
Al-Munief also says that only 5% of victims of child abuse are able to obtain protection. At the same time, there is no program to respond to the causes of the violence and steps to be taken to counter them.
In the country there are 22 centers that deal with abuse of young people and others are in the planning phase, with specialized staff. To date nine sessions are available for police officers, judges, lawyers and other professionals, but the hope is that others will be implemented in the near future.
The Saudi scholar concluded by explaining that the programs of assistance and aid have so far involved 250 thousand children in various parts of the country. 60% of requests for help come from the children themselves, who denounce (between 5 and 10%), physical violence and 1% rape.