(1 Jan 2017) LEAD IN:
Violence against women in Algeria has dropped according to official figures.
But women’s rights groups say much of the problem goes unreported and domestic abuse is still a serious problem.
Violence against women is down in Algeria – that’s according to the General Board of National Security.
It has released its annual report which has documented 7,000 cases brought to court in 2016, a significant drop from 9,000 cases reported the year before.
But women’s rights organisations believe the true figure could be much higher as many women don’t lodge a complaint with the authorities.
Zahida has been a victim of domestic violence during her 20 year marriage.
She wants to keep her identity hidden for her own safety.
“My husband was so violent, he used to beat me, I even went to the hospital,” she says.
Nacira has also survived humiliating abuse at the hands of her husband.
“My husband used to take my salary, if I did not give him the money he used to beat me. The doctor gave me a medical certificate of 22 days of sick leave. My left eye is still marked,” she says.
“When he beat me, he always told me to keep it secret, because I have eight brothers. So when my brothers were asking me about my injury I always told them it’s just an accident. Sometimes my husband also left me outside the house, and chained me like a dog until the morning.”
Both women have now left their husbands and started divorce proceedings and claims for compensation.
In their fight they are helped by Anisa Bouzorine.
She represents The Association for Protecting Women and Children’s Rights, which was created in 1997 to assist abused women and help them to claim their rights from the courts.
Bouzorine says that it’s time for society to understand that everyone has a responsibility to stop this phenomenon and no one has the right to destroy a woman’s life.
“Women need protection,” she says.
“We still have many cases of violence from husbands.”
In 2015, the Algerian Parliament voted in a law to criminalise violence against women. It states that if a husband beats his wife he can receive a jail sentence of between one and 20 years. In cases of murder, the tariff is life.
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