We have had a long litany of stories where we have criticized the Saudi Sharia system and the Kingdom’s treatment of religious minorities and women. So, when the Kingdom does something progressive, it is equally important to note it. This week, the Saudi cabinet passed a ban on domestic violence and other forms of abuse against women. That may seem a bit long in coming — by a few hundred years — but it is a major breakthrough for women given the Islamic clerics who still insist that beating your wife is ordained by God, as expressed in the Koran.
The Saudi government has been trying to liberalize aspects of Saudi politics and law but such moves often trigger opposition among the powerful Wahhabi clerics in the Kingdom.
This legislation, for the first time in the history of the Kingdom, makes domestic violence a punishable crime and provides treatment and shelter for victims of abuse. The penalties include a maximum of 12 months in jail and fines of up to $13,000. Moreover, both civilian and military employees are now required to report evidence of abuse.
It is a proud moment for the Kingdom, though much remains to be done for women and minorities.