In 1990, Saudi Arabia officially recorded its first case of child abuse in the kingdom. Four years later, the kingdom set up a program for reporting incidents of child abuse at one hospital. A governmental committee to oversee the protection of children's rights in Saudi Arabia was also formed that same year.
Yet, insignificant legislation and poor enforcement of laws have made things more difficult for children suffering any form of abuse — be it physical, emotional, or psychological. Still, authorities in the kingdom have been taking more action against perpetrators of abuse, who are reportedly "highly educated parents" in 70 percent of cases of child abuse in Saudi Arabia.
There is nothing educated about abuse, and there is no justification in the world that would make it OK. One Arab father thought he could justify violently beating his daughter while teaching her to walk by blaming it on the fact that the girl's mother had left him alone with four kids.
Saudi authorities have since arrested the man - now identified as Yousif Alqutai, a Palestinian resident of Saudi Arabia - after the video of him beating his daughter went viral on Arab Twitter over the weekend. In it, the man could be seen beating his daughter in an attempt to force the baby girl to stand up. He grabbed her by the neck, slapped her across the face multiple times, and held her from the ears.
The man has since released an apology video, claiming the video was shot "a long time ago" as he pleaded for forgiveness.
"As you can all see now she is perfectly fine. I tried to teach her to walk and now look by the grace of God she walks by herself," he said in the follow-up video.
Alqutai attempted to justify his abuse by blaming his wife, who he claimed left him with their four children, which led to his so-called "break down."
"I've been taking care of my four children for the last two weeks. They are not abused now. They are all fine. It's an old video and I have repented to God. Back then I was going through psychological problems," he said.
*The video is available online but we choose not to share such graphic content in line with our ethical standards.
A police spokesman in Riyadh said its criminal investigation team began looking for the culprit immediately after the video began making the rounds online, according to Saudi Gazette.
"The man, a Palestinian national in his 40s, has been identified as the culprit and he was arrested from the Casablanca neighborhood, south of Riyadh city. We will provide necessary care to his four children, in coordination with the concerned authorities," the spokesman said.
Khaled Aba Khail, spokesperson for the Saudi Ministry of Labor and Social Development, also tweeted about the incident, confirming that the Violence Reporting Center had been looking into the video and coordinating with authorities to identify the man.
"The Saudi child protection system and its executive regulations will be applied on him," Aba Khail wrote.
Twitter users had a lot to say
"The man who abused the child must be crazy and in a poor psychological state as he tried to justify his actions by saying the girl's mother had left them. He was attempting to teach her to walk in a way that could have damaged her ears and head. I wish for his hands to be paralyzed as he shouldn't be the father responsible for this girl.
If her mother is bad intentioned, must you be an animal, too? He doesn't deserve to raise these kids, neither he nor the mother"
People were especially outraged at his failed attempt to justify his actions
"The man's justification is just unacceptable. He should be held accountable for his actions and punished as well."
Abuse is common, but no excuse is acceptable
"How many women live with violent husbands and fathers who violently beat and torture their children under the pretext of 'raising them'? In such cases, the husband is not mentally OK and the mother remains silent either because she fears divorce or she is a supporter of the saying 'the shadow of a man is better than the shadow of a wall' or she is dead because there is no way a living mother could let this happen."