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ALGERIA CRIMINALIZES DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

By Abdus Sattar Ghazali

 

Algeria has criminalized domestic violence against women under a legislation that would, among other things, safeguard married women’s financial interests and create harsh punishments for men who attack women. But the move wasn’t without controversy.

 

Under the new law, husbands found guilty of beating their wives could face up to 20 years behind bars or even life sentences, depending on the severity of a woman’s injuries, according to the Agence France-Presse.

 

Between 100 and 200 women are reportedly killed each year in Algeria because of domestic violence.

 

Worldwide, nearly 40 percent of all murders of women were committed by their partners, according to a 2014 report from the World Health Organization. Many countries do not have laws against domestic abuse. In Algeria, there were over 7,000 reported cases of violence against women in 2011. However, experts say the number is likely far higher because many victims do not report their abuse. The majority of domestic abuse cases involved husbands as the aggressors.

 

The law also safeguards the financial interests of married women and introduces the concept of harassment, the AFP said adding: the law also provides for imprisonment of up to two years for any husband acting to "dispose of the assets or financial resources" of his wife.

 

Worldwide, nearly 40 percent of all murders of women were committed by their partners, according to a 2014 report from the World Health Organization. Many countries do not have laws against domestic abuse. In Algeria, there were over 7,000 reported cases of violence against women in 2011. However, experts say the number is likely far higher because many victims do not report their abuse. The majority of domestic abuse cases involved husbands as the aggressors.

 

The new law was also met with disapproval from the human rights group Amnesty International, which said a certain provision in the law that would give perpetrators clemency should the survivors of domestic violence choose to pardon them could set a dangerous precedent. “The provision fails to confront the reality of the power relations,” the group was quoted by the Press TV as saying. “A failure to withdraw [the clause] could expose women who come forward to report domestic abuse to serious risks of violence or coercion to force them to withdraw a complaint.

 

Algerian Justice Minister Tayeb Louha emphasized that the "koranic verses protect the honor of women and do not permit" violence against them. "Violence against women in our society exists and is growing," he was quoted by the AFP as saying.

 

The United Nations defines violence against women as "any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life."

 

An analysis of WHO with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the Medical Research Council, based on existing data from over 80 countries, found that globally 35% of women have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence. Most of this violence is intimate partner violence.

 

Worldwide, almost one third (30%) of all women who have been in a relationship have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by their intimate partner, in some regions this is much higher. Globally as many as 38% of all murders of women are committed by intimate partners.