The family affairs committee is currently studying new amendments to the domestic violence law and will draft a final report before submitting it to the National Assembly for approval. The domestic violence law has penalties that vary according to the type of violence, whether verbal, physical or financial, with jail sentences that range from one to three years in prison and fines.
No one can deny that domestic violence has become a global social and psychological phenomenon that affects most societies today, whether advanced or developing societies like ours. But such abuse is more pronounced in extremist societies because of the wrong social upbringing that considers women merely as sex objects or second class citizens. I believe that the status of women in a society and their activities in society are measures of the health of the process of socialization.
Economic factors, for example, have a role in the spread of domestic violence, such as poverty and unemployment, but despite the multiple reasons, the negative impact falls on the female victim. This may result in losing child custody, drug dependence and depression, which may lead to suicide. Violence has become an issue that does not only affect a small number of people or families, but has a significant impact outside the walls of the house. This is why it is important to find the right solutions.
Sociologists say family violence is abuse within the family environment and any form of violence – whether verbal, physical, psychological, social or economic. It seems clear to all that domestic violence appears to be increasing and the family affairs committee is trying to reach what they think is a solution to end this condition. It is good that they are paying attention to this issue, although a recent proposal on the subject seemed strange to the local community and even controversial!
One of the new suggestions to the law is to punish any husband who takes a girlfriend (a mistress), with imprisonment for a period of not less than one month and not exceeding one year, or fines! This suggestion was a hit on social media and everyone had an opinion on it – some were supporters while others were not.
This proposal raised a lot of irony for several reasons. I think this clause will destroy the family by putting the husband in prison. This will lead directly to divorce and displacement of children, so how can the law achieve the goal of family protection? Many also ask about a woman who takes a boyfriend. Sending the father to prison will not restore the family’s cohesion or provide safety to the wife or children, because this issue is a moral one. I don’t think the law will stop a man from taking a mistress, but will lead to more divorces and fake accusations against husbands.
I believe we need an integrated national strategic plan by concerned authorities to study this serious phenomenon and its negative impact with the participation of academic institutions and administrative and legal bodies.
I see that there are many solutions better than jailing a man for having a girlfriend. Family-oriented dialogue programs can play an important role in raising awareness about the seriousness of domestic violence and the need to enhance the role of women in society and respect the rights and priorities of children and everyone else, including the man.
Another solution is to encourage the opening of counseling centers for families in most areas and health centers, as in developed countries, with a hotline in more than one foreign language or at least English alongside Arabic. The final report of the family affairs committee has not being issued yet, so time will tell which direction it will take.
By Muna Al-Fuzai