29/08/2013 11:10 BST | Updated 29/10/2013 05:12 GMT

Saudi Arabia Passes First Ban On Domestic Violence

Saudi Arabia's cabinet has passed a ban on domestic violence and other abuse for the first time

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A ban on domestic violence and other abuse has been passed by Saudi Arabia’s cabinet, for the first time in the Kingdom’s history.

Physical, psychological and sexual abuse or the threat of abuse will be treated as an offence punishable by prison and fines, Al Arabiya reports.

The new law also covers abuse in workplaces.

“All civilian or military employees and all workers in the private sector who learn of a case of abuse — by virtue of their work — shall report the case to their employers when they know it,” Arab News reported the cabinet as saying in a statement.

“The employers shall report the case to the Ministry of Social Affairs or police when they know it.”

Violence against women and children in the home have largely been regarded as private domestic matters until now.

Saudi Arabia's first anti-domestic abuse advert was issued in April

A women’s rights activist told the BBC the new law was a positive and long overdue step.

Suad Abu Dayyeh, from Equality Now, said the police and courts would need training on how to implement the law in a country where male guardianship has always been the norm.

In April the Kingdom 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.”