On Sunday, Saudi Arabia's public prosecution office announced it's going forward with legal action against a man who beat his wife in public last month.
The defendant was arrested early in February after a video of him hitting his wife at the entrance of their residence went viral online. In the footage, the woman can also be heard screaming for help as her husband forces her back into the building.
According to Okaz newspaper, the husband was charged with "assaulting his wife in public and locking her in their home." He now faces a criminal trial in which he's going to be prosecuted under the kingdom's anti-domestic abuse law.
Just days after the incident took place, several local media outlets claimed the man wasn't abusing his wife in the footage but was just trying to take her back inside their home.
At the time, a source also spoke to Rotana's Ya Hala program and shared details of the case. They explained that the victim is a 20-year-old woman who's married to the abuser. The source added that the woman is "mentally unstable," but didn't elaborate on her exact illness.
They also revealed that the couple's neighbors filmed the assault after they heard the wife screaming for help. The footage then went viral and subsequently lead to the husband's arrest.
News of the man's indictment in the assault is now making the rounds online. Many said the decision marks a positive change in the way domestic violence cases are dealt with in the kingdom, and sends a message to abusers that their violence will no longer go unpunished.
"He deserves this and she's going to get her rights back"
Many hailed the public prosecution's decision
Some were perplexed by the news, given how the case was reported earlier
"This news is bizarre. Just months back they claimed he didn't beat her up and explained that she had a mental illness. He was then let go and people were attacking those who filmed the footage."
Domestic violence laws in Saudi Arabia
This is because many victims live with families who normalize gender-based violence and are often forced to remain silent about what they endure.
Activists also constantly criticize the way the country's courts deal with cases that do end up being reported. In their criticism of the country's legal system, they accuse it of not properly applying domestic violence laws and cultivating a misogynistic environment that further discriminates against women.
Domestic violence continues to be a taboo issue in the kingdom. However, in recent years, brave victims of abuse have gone public with their stories.
The kingdom's authorities have also been working on developing several action plans to support victims.
In 2014, Saudi Arabia expanded its Protection Against Abuse laws to ensure they covered anyone who isn't given their rights at home, including the right to get identification papers, education, and health care.