The first domestic abuse ad ever to run in Saudi Arabia was a watershed moment for woman’s rights in a country with a history of gender inequality.
The ad featured a powerful image of a burqa-clad woman with one black eye staring bleakly out. Beneath her gaze in small type was written in Arabic “some things can’t be covered” followed by phone numbers for local domestic abuse shelters.
The ad was created by international ad-agency Ogilvy and promoted by the King Khalid Foundation, a charity that focuses on issues of advocacy and developing Saudi Arabia’s non-profit sector. It ran in 2013 in the April 17 and 18 editions of Saudi national newspapers.
The ad instantly sparked a nationwide conversation on domestic abuse and woman’s rights in a country where strict gender roles are seen as a pillar of Islam.
Less than three months after the ad ran, legislation sponsored by the King Khalid foundation outlawing any form of abuse in the home or workplace passed the Saudi Council of Minister’s.
Today, those convicted of domestic abuse in Saudi Arabia can face up to a year in prison and a fine of up to 50,000 Saudi riyal (about $US13,300).
Though it’s improving, Saudi Arabia is still ranked 130 out of 142 countries when it comes to the gender gap.
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