He got away with a pledge

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Okaz

DISAPPOINTMENT was evident in her words when the woman told me, “He signed a pledge and got away.”

This woman called me many months ago seeking advice to resolve her family problem. She was weeping because she was brutally beaten up by her abusive husband. She wanted to put an end to her suffering and the resultant frustration, which was bleeding her out more than his beatings.

Every time I explained to her the legal recourse she had, she kept answering, “I did so in a previous instance of abuse, but it did not work.”

She contacted many numbers to complain after abuse by her husband became unbearable.

In some cases, officers turned her away saying that it was not part of their responsibility. Others summoned her husband, forced him to sign a pledge promising he would not repeat the abuse and then he was released.

She said each time he came back home victorious and became more aggressive than before. The pain, abuse and psychological suffering were repeated and she was losing the desire to live.

Honestly, there is nothing in the law that absolves an abuser who signed a document promising not to repeat his or her cruel behavior.

Those whoever have approved this procedure are in fact mitigating domestic abuse by turning it into a matter of misunderstanding in the family. As a result, the abuser will emerge victorious always, while the victim will experience real defeat. It looks as if we are trying to protect the beast, instead of saving the lamb.

A law is enacted after going through a chain of regulatory procedures, starting from the draft committee, the debate and vote in the Shoura Council, the Cabinet approval and finally the order from the supreme authorities. The whole process takes years from the moment the proposed legislation was tabled.

It is strange on the part of an official to put the law behind and then invent the ploy of signing a promise, allowing the culprit in a criminal offense to escape.

The main task of officials in any relevant department is to listen to the grievances of both parties to a conflict, document them and then transfer the case to the responsible authorities to issue a final verdict.

I do not deny the fact that some wives, daughters and even children will find themselves under great pressure put on them by their families or tribe to drop their complaints.

Here I believe that the case should move forward, instead of being withdrawn. When the case reaches the criminal court, then the victim should be given the choice to either drop the case for the sake of peace and to protect the family as part of their private right. The abuser, however, must face the public right and be held accountable, even if the punishment handed down was minimal. In any case, he should not be allowed to walk away scot-free.

Though we defend some of the departments in our country with regard to women who have escaped abroad, it does not mean we look away from the flaws in the procedures they follow.

Our departments should not wait until there is a hashtag on Twitter or an outcry on social media to begin acting. We should start moving the moment a call for help is made. We should enforce the law to protect children from abuse and harassment.

The system of punishment should be activated. The period stay in protection homes should increase from three days to two months and we must make sure that the victim does not return to his or her home unless there are strong guarantees that the abuse is not going to be repeated.


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