Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Arabian Peninsula

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Arabian Peninsula

Article excerpt

Bahrain Women Launch Project to Fight Child Abuse

According to the Jan. 29 Gulf News online, the Bahrain Women's Society (BWS-with the support of the U.N. High Commission on Human Rights-has launched "Be Free, a project aimed at fighting child abuse in the Gulf state. At a press conference, BWS Vice-- President Dr. Sorour Qanouni called for "a generation free from abuse and neglect." While precise statistics on the number of abused children in Bahrain are hard to come by, she noted, a recent BWS study of 175 households showed that almost 60 percent had experienced "some kind of abuse." The project, which is being supported emphatically by Sheikha Hala al-Khalifa (wife of Bahrain's crown prince), involves 15 activists working on a voluntary basis. Nor is the abuse they seek to identify and combat limited to physical or sexual abuse, Qanouni remarked. She defined "child abuse" as "any action that endangers or harms a child's physical or emotional health and development," especially emotional abuse that includes yelling, name-calling, and derision. BWS hopes to educate children and parents on the types of abuse and how they can be avoided, as well as providing counseling and support for abused children and working to enhance anti-child abuse laws in Bahrain and the region. Plans include a special center for abused children, scheduled to open by December 2003, which will offer a 24-hour help line that children can call for advice.

Saudi Arabia to Limit Expats, Create jobs for Nationals

According to a report in the Feb. 5 Saudi Gazette, nearly three million expatriates employed in Saudi Arabia could be fired in the next decade in an attempt to create more jobs for citizens. On Feb. 2, Saudi Interior Minister Prince Naif Bin Abdul Aziz announced that the number of foreign workers and family members will be reduced to 20 percent of the Saudi population by 2013, a predicted drop of 8 percent-or around 2.5 million expats.

In addition, each foreign nationality will be limited via quota to a maximum of 10 percent of the total expatriate population. The system will particularly affect foreigners from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Egypt, Sudan and Syria-whose numbers all exceed the new limit.

The move, stated Manpower Council Secretary-General Abdul Waheed al-Humaid, is intended to prevent "an economic and social catastrophe" in a country where 90 percent of working-age women and 20 percent of working-age men are currently unemployed-about half the Saudi national workforce. …

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