Algeria: Protect Women from Domestic Violence and Prosecute Abusers!

  • by: Julie S.
  • target: President Abdelaziz Bouteflika

It is the duty of police and the judicial system to ensure the safety of women who want to leave abusive relationships. Sadly, the Algerian government does little to protect victims of domestic violence.

In 2016, 8,000 complaints of violence against women were reported in Algeria. This number likely underestimates the true incidence of abuse, given the results of a survey by the State Ministry for the Family and the Status of Women, which found that nearly 10% of Algerian women experienced frequent physical violence in their homes.

Ahmed Benchemsi, Advocacy and Communications Director of Human Rights Watch, describes the numerous hurtles an Algerian woman named Salwa was forced to endure when attempting to flee from her violent husband.

Salwa's husband beat her for many years. She told HRW representatives that she decided to leave him following a brutal incident in which he stripped her naked, beat her with a broom, and cut her breasts with scissors.

Salwa complained to the police, but they initially refused to interrogate or arrest her husband and decided to close the case. He was later punished only by a small fine and suspended sentece. When Salwa attempted to file for divorce, the request was originally rejected on the grounds that she "hadn’t adequately proved that her husband had 'harmed' her." According to Salwa, "The state didn’t do anything for me. I was almost dead and the court ordered me to go back to him."

Please sign this petition requesting that the Algerian government pass comprehensive legislation to protect victims of domestic violence – by granting government aid to shelters where victims can receive the physical and emotional support they need, by ensuring that police and courts investigate and prosecute abusers, and by providing restraining orders to keep abusers away from their victims. These recommendations have been provided by Human Rights Watch representatives, and if realized, would protect the thousands of women suffering from domestic abuse in Algeria.

Dear President Bouteflika, I am deeply concerned regarding the lack of government services to protect women from domestic violence in Algeria. In 2016, police recorded 8,000 complains of violence against women in Algeria. This number likely underestimates the true incidence of abuse, given the results of survey by the State Ministry for the Family and the Status of Women, which found that nearly 10% of Algerian women experienced frequent physical violence in their homes. Ahmed Benchemsi, Advocacy and Communications Director of Human Rights Watch, describes the numerous hurtles an Algerian woman named Salwa was forced to endure when attempting to flee from her violent husband. Salwa’s husband beat her for many years. She told HRW representatives that she decided to leave him following a brutal incident in which he stripped her naked, beat her with a broom, and cut her breasts with scissors. Salwa complained to the police, but they refused to interrogate or arrest her husband and decided to close the case. Even with the help of an attorney, Salwa’s husband was punished by only a fine and suspended sentence. When Salwa attempted to file for divorce, the request was rejected on the grounds that she “hadn’t adequately proved that her husband had ‘harmed’ her.” “The state didn’t do anything for me. I was almost dead and the court ordered me to go back to him,” Salwa said. I request that the Algerian government pass comprehensive legislation to protect victims of domestic violence – by granting government aid to shelters where victims can receive the physical and emotional support they need, by ensuring that police and courts investigate and prosecute abusers, and by providing restraining orders to keep abusers away from their victims. These recommendations have been provided by Human Rights Watch representatives, and if realized, would protect the thousands of women suffering from domestic abuse in Algeria. Thank you for your consideration. [Your comments] Sincerely, [Your name]
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