73% Saudis unaware of child protection law: HRC survey

73% Saudis unaware of child protection law: HRC survey

Dr. Mohammed Al-Khunaizi
Dr. Mohammed Al-Khunaizi

DAMMAM – About 73 percent of Saudi citizens who took part in a survey said they were not aware of the laws for preventing family violence and protection of children in Saudi Arabia, Al-Watan Arabic daily reported.

The result shows the authorities did not make adequate efforts to educate society on the two vital laws, it added.

The survey was conducted by the Human Rights Commission (HRC) for people who visit its website, which published the two laws. When asked about the new legislation, 27 percent of the participants said they had seen them while 73 percent said they were uninformed.

Dr. Mohammed Al-Khunaizi, a member of the human rights committee at the Shoura Council, said the HRC has a big responsibility to educate the public about such important laws through schools, universities and NGOs.

He said the courts, government departments and security agencies should also shoulder their responsibility in informing the public about such laws to ensure protection of women and children.

“The survey result shows HRC’s negligence in enlightening the public about the legislation. People are unaware of the law because the authorities have not made enough efforts to publicize them through the media. People should be informed about such laws as they form a pivotal part of their implementation,” he explained.

“We have noticed that people often think about laws only when they face a problem. Negligence of relevant authorities to publicize laws complicates the matter further,” said Al-Khunaizi.

He said there are at least four benefits in publicizing a new law: People will know about their legal rights; the government can implement the law without opposition; there will fewer complaints against the law enforcement authorities; and there will be a drastic drop in family violence cases.

“All advanced countries teach children about their rights at schools,” Al-Khunaizi added.

The HRC should publicize the laws related to human rights in order to bring down violations involving men, women and children. “Society will benefit when it has greater awareness about its rights and duties.”

Dr. Ibrahim Al-Shaddi, a member of the consultative committee of the International Human Rights Council, said: “It’s unfortunate that 73 percent of people who took part in the survey did not know about the two laws that protect children and prevent family violence.”

He added: “People’s ignorance of laws reflects the absence of a culture of protecting children’s rights within the family and society.” He emphasized the joint responsibility of the Ministry of Labor and Social Development, Ministry of Culture and Information and HRC in publicizing the laws and following up its implementation.

“The media should take part of the blame for not highlighting such important laws,” Al-Shaddi told Al-Watan.