The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has issued its first anti-domestic abuse advert.

The advert features a hijab-clad woman – with just her eyes visible through the slits in her veil – one of which is blackened and bloodshot.

The slogan simply reads: “Some things can’t be covered – fighting women’s abuse together.”

saudi arabia domestic abuse advert

Saudi Arabia's first anti-domestic abuse advert

The campaign is backed by the King Khalid Charitable Foundation and aims to “provide legal protection for women and children from abuse in Saudi Arabia.”

In literature for the advert, it admits “the phenomenon of battered women in Saudi Arabia is much greater than apparent”, and encourages Saudis to report cases of violence at locations around the Kingdom including Madinah, Najran, Makkah and Riyadh.

The campaign is progress indeed for a country where women are not permitted to drive, and where religious police only recently lifted a ban on females riding motorbikes and bicycles – as long as they wear the full-length veil and are accompanied by a male relative.

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The Gulf Kingdom is governed by Sharia law, and it is illegal for Saudi women to travel abroad without male accompaniment. They may only do so if their guardian agrees by signing a document know as a 'yellow sheet' at an airport or border crossing.

In November 2012 it emerged women were being electronically monitored with authorities using SMS to track them and inform their husbands of their whereabouts.

It was only in 2011 that women were given the right to vote and run for office in municipal elections in 2015.

The foundation backing the ad was established in 2001 by the family of the late King Khalid, who ruled from 1975 until his death in 1982.

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  • Honor Blackman

    <a href="http://www.womensaid.org.uk/page.asp?section=00010001001000060002&sectionTitle=About+the+ACT+campaign " target="_hplink"><em>Women's Aid</em></a> won an award for their domestic violence awareness campaign, which saw celebrities including Anna Friel, Fern Britton, Jemma Kidd and Honor Blackman made-over to appear as if they had been beaten.

  • Clare Wood

    In September the <a href="http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/media-centre/news/clares-law-pilot" target="_hplink">Home Office began piloting a Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme, known as Clare's Law</a>. It was so named to honour Clare Wood, who was strangled and set on fire by her ex-boyfriend. It proposes to give women "the right to know" if a partner has a history of domestic violence. The scheme came into being after campaigning to protect women from Michael Brown, the father of the murder victim.

  • Lauren Luke

    Self-taught make-up artist <a href="http://www.youtube.com/user/panacea81" target="_hplink">Lauren Luke</a> appeared before her YouTube subscribers in July looking battered and bruised. While the bruises were fake, <a href="http://refuge.org.uk/lauren/ " target="_hplink">the video, made in collaboration with UK charity Refuge sent a clear message to women across the globe: "65 per cent of women who suffer domestic violence keep it hidden. Don't cover it up." </a>http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=d-XHPHRlWZk

  • Keira Knightley

    Atonement actress <a href="http://www.womensaid.org.uk/domestic-violence-press-information.asp?itemid=2062&itemTitle=Keira+Knightley+stars+in+powerful+domestic+violence+campaign+for+Women's+Aid&section=0001000100150001&sectionTitle=Press+releases " target="_hplink">Keira Knightley starred in a 2009 Women's Aid ad</a> which saw her punched and kicked to the ground. Shot by Atonement director Joe Wright, the clip was deemed "too violent" and was censored before it was shown on TV.

  • Chris Brown

    An 'unofficial' campaign was carried out against singer Chris Brown, who found his latest album, <em>Fortune</em>, slapped with stickers reading: <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/14/chris-brown-warning-stickers-do-not-buy-this-man-beats-women-hmv_n_1884927.html" target="_hplink">"WARNING: Do not buy this album! This man beats women!"</a>

It was, according to Blessed Islam, a “key player in the introduction to the “Women and Child Abuse Prevention Law”, making it the first time legislation developed and proposed by an NGO has been adopted by the Kingdom’s government.

Domestic violence statistics in the country are hazy at best, due to a societal system which accepts the right of the male to govern unconditionally.

The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report in 2012 ranked Saudi Arabia 131st out of 134 countries for gender equality.

Back in 2008, Jeddah-based psychologist Samira Al-Ghamdi told Arab News: “Society clings to its ways and people refuse to change. Too many people view the efforts to stop abuse of women and children as defiance of social rules that have been established for centuries.”

Here's hoping she’s wrong and that this campaign will smooth the way for positive change.

LOOK: The 25 Best And 25 Worst Countries For Gender Equality

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  • 1. Iceland

    2012 score: 0.8640 In 2011, Iceland ranked #1 with a score of 0.8530.

  • 2. Finland

    2012 score: 0.8451 In 2011, Finland ranked #3 with a score of 0.8383

  • 3. Norway

    2012 score: 0.8403 In 2011, Norway ranked #2 with a score of 0.8404.

  • 4. Sweden

    2012 score: 0.8159 In 2011, Sweden ranked #4 with a score of 0.8044.

  • 5. Ireland

    2012 score: 0.7839 In 2011, Ireland ranked #5 with a score of 0.7830.

  • 6. New Zealand

    2012 score: 0.7805 In 2011, New Zealand ranked #6 with a score of 0.7810.

  • 7. Denmark

    2012 score: 0.7777 In 2011, Denmark ranked #7 with a score of 0.7778.

  • 8. Philippines

    2012 score: 0.7757 In 2011, the Philippines ranked #8 with a score of 0.7685.

  • 9. Nicaragua

    2012 score: 0.7697 In 2011, Nicaragua ranked #27 with a score of 0.7245.

  • 10. Switzerland

    2012 score: 0.7672 In 2011, Switzerland ranked #10 with a score of 0.7627.

  • 11. Netherlands

    2012 score: 0.7659 In 2012, the Netherlands ranked #15 with a score of 0.7470.

  • 12. Belgium

    2012 score: 0.7652 In 2011, Belgium ranked #13 with a score of 0.7531.

  • 13. Germany

    2012 score: 0.7629 In 2011, Germany ranked #11 with a score of 0.7590.

  • 14. Lesotho

    2012 score: 0.7608 In 2011, Lesotho ranked #9 with a score of 0.7666.

  • 15. Latvia

    2012 score: 0.7572 In 2011, Latvia ranked #19 with a score of 0.7399.

  • 16. South Africa

    2012 score: 0.7496 In 2011, South Africa ranked #14 with a score of 0.7478.

  • 17. Luxembourg

    2012 score: 0.7439 In 2011, Luxembourg was ranked #30 with a score of 0.7216.

  • 18. United Kingdom

    2012 score: 0.7433 In 2011, the United Kingdom ranked #16 with a score of 0.7462.

  • 19. Cuba

    2012 score: 0.7417 In 2011, Cuba was ranked #20 with a score of 0.7394.

  • 20. Austria

    2012 score: 0.7391 In 2011, Austria ranked #34 with a score of 0.7165.

  • 21. Canada

    2012 score: 0.7381 In 2011, Canada ranked #18 with a score of 0.7407.

  • 22. United States

    2012 score: 0.7373 In 2011, the United States ranked #17 with a score of 0.7412.

  • 23. Mozambique

    2012 score: 0.7350 In 2011, Mozambique ranked #26 with a score of 0.7251.

  • 24. Burundi

    2012 score: 0.7338 In 2011, Burundi ranked #24 with a score of 0.7270.

  • 25. Australia

    2012 score: 0.7294 In 2011, Australia ranked #23 with a score of 0.7291.

  • 111. Bahrain

    2012 score: 0.6298 In 2011, Bahrain ranked #110 with a score of 0.6232.

  • 112. Cameroon

    2012 score: 0.6291 In 2011, Cameroon ranked #119 with a score of 0.6073.

  • 113. Fiji

    2012 score: 0.6285 In 2011, Fiji ranked #109 with a score of 0.6255.

  • 114. Zambia

    2012 score: 0.6279 In 2011, Zambia ranked #106 with a score of 0.6300.

  • 115. Qatar

    2012 score: 0.6264 In 2011, Qatar ranked #111 with a score of 0.6230.

  • 116. Guatemala

    2012 score: 0.6260 In 2011, Guatemala ranked #112 with a score of 0.6229.

  • 117. Benin

    2012 score: 0.6258 In 2012, Benin ranked #128 with a score of 0.5832.

  • 118. Ethiopia

    2012 score: 0.6200 In 2011, Ethiopia ranked #116 with a score of 0.6136.

  • 119. Mauritania

    2012 score: 0.6129 In 2011, Mauritania ranked #114 with a score of 0.6164.

  • 120. Algeria

    2012 score: 0.6112 In 2011, Algeria ranked #121 with a score of 0.5991.

  • 121. Jordan

    2012 score: 0.6103 In 2011, Jordan ranked #117 with a score of 0.6117.

  • 122. Lebanon

    2012 score: 0.6030 In 2011, Lebanon ranked #118 with a score of 0.6083.

  • 123. Nepal

    2012 score: 0.6026 In 2011, Nepal ranked #126 with a score of 0.5888.

  • 124. Turkey

    2012 score: 0.6015 In 2011, Turkey ranked #122 with a score of 0.5954.

  • 125. Oman

    2012 score: 0.5986 In 2011, Oman ranked #127 with a score of 0.5873.

  • 126. Egypt

    2012 score: 0.5975 In 2011, Egypt ranked #123 with a score of 0.5933.

  • 127. Iran

    2012 score: 0.5927 In 2011, Iran ranked #125 with a score of 0.5894.

  • 128. Mali

    2012 score: 0.5842 In 2011, Mali ranked #132 with a score of 0.5752.

  • 129. Morocco

    2012 score: 0.5833 In 2011, Morocco ranked #129 with a score of 0.5804.

  • 130. Côte d'Ivoire

    2012 score: 0.5785 In 2011, Côte d'Ivoire ranked #130 with a score of 0.5773.

  • 131. Saudi Arabia

    2012 score: 0.5731 In 2011, Saudi Arabia ranked #131 with a score of 0.5753.

  • 132. Syria

    2012 score: 0.5626 In 2011, Syria ranked #124 with a score of 0.5896.

  • 133. Chad

    2012 score: 0.5594 In 2011, Chad ranked #134 with a score of 0.5334.

  • 134. Pakistan

    2012 score: 0.5478 In 2011, Pakistan ranked #133 with a score of 0.5583.

  • 135. Yemen

    2012 score: 0.5054 In 2011, Yemen ranked #135 with a score of 0.4873.