A CALL went out yesterday for tougher punishment to combat crime against women.
Shura Council member Faisal Fulad said more should be done to ensure the safety of women and penalise those who harass or abuse them.
"Most of the time those involved in physical abuse acts, especially rape, get away without a genuine punishment," he said.
"Community police, a pioneer policing scheme, should be used to halt violence against women by enabling its members to intervene in cases in which women are abused."
Mr Fulad, who is also a human rights activist, said 42 per cent of the local population is made up of women.
"There are 212,107 Bahraini women and 81,033 expatriate women in the country," he said.
Mr Fulad was yesterday responding to Interior Minister Shaikh Rashid bin Abdulla Al Khalifa, who was present at the council's weekly meeting to answer a question by Mr Fulad on procedures taken by the ministry to limit violence against women.
Many civil societies, said Mr Fulad, were ready to support an awareness programme in co-ordination with the ministry to limit violence against women.
"Lectures, seminars and meetings should be held to combat such abuse and ensure that women are protected," he said.
Shaikh Rashid said 2,443 violent acts and 2,065 verbal abuse cases affecting women have been reported in Bahrain from 2001 up to the end of last year.
He said the ministry was taking strict measures to halt such abuse and protect women.
"We are planning to establish a shelter for abused women. A new facility at the women punishment unit will also be built, where a social supervisor will be present to look into problems facing women prisoners."
Meanwhile, Labour Minister Dr Majeed Al Alawi told the 40-member council there was no minimum wage in Bahrain because of the absence of a law governing wages.
"The ministry is keen on increasing wages through having continuous meetings with those concerned to ensure that packages being offered to employees are fair - without being forced to impose a minimum wage," he said.
Dr Al Alawi said he was answering a question by the council's financial and economic committee chairman Jamal Fakhro.
The council also discussed a written report by Transportation Minister Shaikh Ali bin Khalifa Al Khalifa on developments and future projects at the Bahrain International Airport.