In the face of unimaginable abuse and stagnant systems that don't do enough to protect victims, many Saudi women are left with no other option but to turn to social media.
Nearly every week, the case of a woman being mistreated by her father, brothers, or husband makes the rounds on local Twitter. In most cases, the virality of a story is what it takes for authorities to take serious action.
On Monday, a new victim resorted to exposing her abusers on the platform in hopes that her voice and pleas for help are heard. Named Amal, the woman appeared in several videos, saying she had been subjected to years of relentless abuse at the hands of her own brothers.
In one of the clips, her daughter films her struggling to drive on a highway while her face appears to be clearly battered, bloodied, and bruised.
"I suffered abuse for over seven years and never shared it online like other girls, I never said anything. They told me to report it to authorities and I did but no one did anything for me. My abusers always got out using bribes and connections," she said in another video.
Amal relayed several incidents that saw her own brother beat her and bash a car she'd rented without insurance so she'd have to pay for reparations. She stressed that though she turned to authorities several times, no action was ever taken to protect her.
"After my brother attacked me three weeks ago, he got sent to jail but was bailed out after half an hour," she explained. The woman's story quickly caught people's attention on Twitter and her videos trended under a hashtag titled "Save Amal."
As usual, there were some who tried to discredit the abused woman's story, accusing her of lying and "making things up." However, the majority of those tweeting via the hashtag had the woman's back and called on authorities to immediately get on the case.
Many called on officials to act fast
"The lives of women here are unprotected"
"Stop the violence"
The implementation of domestic violence laws are falling short in the kingdom
Saudi Arabia criminalized domestic violence in 2013 following an organized media campaign. In the past few years, local authorities have 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. In 2016, the country also set up a domestic violence reporting center. In its first three days, the center received 1,890 domestic violence reports.
Despite all that, domestic abuse cases continue to be on the rise and an increasing number of victims say no action is taken even when they report violent incidents.
Some attribute the skyrocketing number of cases to the fact that perpetrators know they won't be prosecuted for offenses.
Others believe the country's male guardianship system is to blame. Those include Reem, a Saudi social activist who previously spoke to StepFeed and highlighted this specific issue.
"The main reason for the rise in domestic abuse cases lies in the fact that Saudi women are still governed by the kingdom's male guardianship system, which basically renders them helpless in such situations. A victim of abuse can't report violent incidents without permission from a male guardian (usually, a husband, father or brother). So it's like you're asking a victim to bring her abuser in to a police station and have him report himself."
To many, no real change will begin to happen before abusers are held accountable and punished for violating laws and abusing women.