I am very cautious about the new development about a new law in Saudi Arabia criminalizing domestic violence. I read a article on CNN mentioning that the new law was passed today criminalizing domestic violence against women, children and domestic servants. Human Rights Watch was very skeptical about the effectiveness of the law, especially in light of the system of male guardianship followed in Saudi Arabia. While I agree with the law, I am doubtful that it will be followed because of some restrictive interpretations of the Quran, the Islamic holy book, which give men the right of guardianship over his wife. As the CNN article mentioned, how could a woman escape her abusive relationship when she could not even drive?
Another reason for my hesitation is the effect the law would have on domestic servants. This problem is endemic in Saudi Arabia and abroad and is nothing short of human trafficking. Would these domestic servants be allowed to stay in a country where even persons born there, including myself, do not get any immigration benefits?
Regardless, it is too soon to know the full impact of the new law. I think many Middle Eastern countries could benefit from our Violence Against Women Act. I do think this is a step in the right direction. The problem will be enforcement, especially in a culture that does not give a woman her full rights.