Saudi Arabia has adopted a law that criminalises domestic violence, usually targeting women and children, in a decision hailed by activists.
The law, approved by the cabinet on Monday, is aimed at protecting people from "all forms of abuse" and offering them shelter as well as "social, psychological, and medical aid," according to its text.
Violators face penalties of one month to one year in prison and/or a 5000 riyal to 50,000 riyal ($1330-13,300) fine.
The measures – which are unprecedented for the ultra-conservative kingdom – concern "any sort of physical or psychological violence," said the social affairs ministry\’s website.
Women are the main victims of domestic violence with "98 per cent of physical violence committed by men against women," it said.
Saudi Arabia, which applies a strict version of Islamic sharia law, imposes many restrictions on women, based on laws and traditions that empower male guardians.
On Sunday, Saudi authorities freed a 50-year-old woman who had been held captive in a room for three years by her relatives over a family dispute.
The legislation was hailed by Saudi human rights activists who said they were waiting to see it implemented.
"The law represents a turning point in the field of human rights protection in the kingdom and mainly offers protection to women," said Mufleh Qahtani, the head of Saudi Arabia\’s National Society for Human Rights.
"Domestic violence must be dealt with in a special way … as the victim and the aggressor often live under the same roof when it comes to a man and his wife or a father and his children.